The Qatar World Cup might only have started over a week ago, but the Golden Boot race is already getting quite heated. The prestige of being the top scorer of a World Cup edition is one of the best achievements in the career of any aspiring footballer.
It’s extra hard to score goals in such a tightly-contested tournament and the World Cup helps separate good footballers from the truly elite ones. In this edition, there have already been over 55 goals scored in the competition.
But only a handful of players have scored multiple goals and stand away in the Golden Boot race. One of the players to lead the tally, for the time being, is France forward Kylian Mbappe.
Playing in his second World Cup edition, the PSG star has been the focal point of his side’s attack in the absence of the injured Karim Benzema.
He’s already scored 3 goals and provided an assist in the opening two games.
That included a match-winning brace in his side’s 2-1 win over Denmark on Saturday. After winning his debut World Cup with France, the Frenchman is determined to repeat those heroics this time around.
But Mbappe’s goals have not been the only good thing about him. He has been a menace for the defenders, with his pace and clever movement making opposition players fear him.
It’s gone to the point that coaches are instructing particular players to man-mark Mbappe and follow his every single movement in an attempt to keep him quiet.
The 23-year-old has been forced to use unusual methods to keep defenders guessing and ensure he can’t get bullied in the World Cup matches. He used a really clever move to leave a Denmark defender Rasmus Kristensen looking silly during the game.
Kristensen, who was playing as their right wing-back, was tasked to keep an eye on Mbappe.
The Danish defender realized that he couldn’t match Mbappe’s pace, so he try to predict the forward’s moving pattern and ended up embarrassed in one moment.
As the ball was about to be played to the PSG forward, he decided against going the way where Kristensen was directed to move.
Mbappe signalled his teammate to make a late pass to him, before which he pulled off a brilliant little feint to leave Kristensen scrambling down on the ground.
Kylian would go on to stay in his spot in the left wing and make some space for left-back Theo Hernandez to move into the final third without too much pressure on him.
But his brilliant bit of skill serves as an example of how clever his in-game reading ability is and how he’s learnt to perfectly anticipate the opposition defender’s movement before committing to something.
Mbappe produced a memorable performance in the win over Denmark, showing impressive character to break the opposition’s resolve and ensure that France qualified for the Round of 16.
In doing so, France became the first defending champions to make it out of the group stages of the World Cup since 2006.
Mbappe realizes that he will need to be at his very best to help France reclaim their World Cup trophy and become the first national team to have won back-to-back World Cup editions in the 21st century.