Belgium’s Nacer Chadli has praised France’s Kylian Mbappe ahead of Tuesday’s World Cup semifinal in St. Petersburg.
The West Bromwich Albion man, who scored a dramatic late winning goal to seal a 3-2 victory over Japan in the last 16, started the quarterfinal success against Brazil and is likely to start against Les Bleus with Thomas Meunier suspended.
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Chadli admitted that the Paris Saint-Germain star’s meteoric rise is perhaps only equalled by that of Lionel Messi.
“What Mbappe is doing at his age, I have never seen before,” said the 28-year-old. “Except, perhaps, Messi.
“Mbappe is hard to stop — he is fast, has plenty of quality, and he is very technical.”
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Speaking with beIN Sports France, Belgium captain Eden Hazard confessed that he is now watching videos of Mbappe, who used to do the same with the Chelsea man’s performances.
“We have spoken a few times over the phone,” Hazard said. “Kylian told me that he watched my videos when he was younger.
“I am not sure if I pass for an old guy, but … I am not too old. Now, it is me watching his videos from time to time, and I have a lot of respect for him and what he is doing.”
Chadli is looking forward to the France showdown and revealed that the win over Brazil means that Roberto Martinez’s men fear nobody else at this World Cup.
“It is always special to play against France,” said Chadli. “When you beat Brazil, you have no need to fear anybody else — we are playing to win the World Cup.”
“We respect everybody, but if we play with fear we will not be able to beat France — the game against France is the most important match of our lives”
Thomas Vermaelen also spoke with the media at a news conference on Sunday and is expecting a difficult match against the French.
However, the Barcelona man believes that he and his teammates should be proud whatever the result against Didier Deschamps’ men.
“France are one of the favourites to win this World Cup,” Vermaelen said. “It could be a difficult game. The France match will be one of the biggest in my career.
“We can be proud of what we have done already, but we want to go further now and not give up — we have to believe in our chances and hopefully win it.
“Our ambition goes further than reaching the semifinals!”
The winner of Tuesday’s encounter at Krestovsky Stadium will face the winner of Wednesday’s other semifinal between England and Croatia.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.
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