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‘We will try to minimize his influence’ – Luis de la Fuente ready to face Mbappe in Euros semifinal

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(Photo by Jasmin Walter - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

Spain coach Luis de la Fuente has issued a strong warning to his team ahead of their Euro 2024 semi-final clash against France on Tuesday. De la Fuente emphasized that despite Kylian Mbappe’s recent struggles, the France forward remains an ever-present threat.

“His level at 50% is 100% for anyone else,” De la Fuente remarked during Monday’s pre-match press conference, highlighting the unique danger Mbappe poses even when not at his best. The Spain coach is keenly aware that writing off Mbappe based on his recent form would be a grave mistake.

Kylian’s Form at Euro 2024

Mbappe’s performance at Euro 2024 has been underwhelming by his lofty standards. The forward has managed to score just once in the tournament, a penalty in France’s final group game against Poland. This goal came from a total of 20 shots, a conversion rate that falls well short of his usual efficiency.

Compounding his challenges, Mbappe has been playing with a mask since breaking his nose in France’s opening game against Austria. The injury and the subsequent mask have seemingly hindered his ability to perform at his peak level. Despite these setbacks, his potential impact on the game remains significant.

A Stark Contrast to World Cup Form

Mbappe’s struggles at the European Championship are in stark contrast to his impressive record at the World Cup. In the global tournament, he has netted 12 goals from 39 shots, showcasing his ability to rise to the occasion on the biggest stage. This disparity underscores the unpredictable nature of his performances in different competitions.

Spain’s Strategy Against Mbappe

Aware of Mbappe’s potential to change the game in an instant, De la Fuente has formulated a strategy to neutralize the French captain’s influence. “He can beat someone in two moves. He is a genius and a superstar,” De la Fuente acknowledged, while expressing his confidence in Spain’s ability to manage Mbappe’s threat.

“We are going to try to minimize his influence. We have the tools to do it regardless of who is on the pitch. I have blind faith in my team to get to the final,” De la Fuente asserted, reflecting his belief in Spain’s tactical preparation and defensive capabilities.

Key Matchup: Spain’s Defense vs. Mbappe

The semi-final clash will likely hinge on how effectively Spain can contain Mbappe. Spain’s defense will need to be at its best to thwart his advances and prevent him from creating scoring opportunities. Given Mbappe’s knack for unpredictability, the Spanish defenders will have to remain vigilant and disciplined throughout the match.

It should be remembered that Spain’s starting right-back Dani Carvajal received a red card in their last game against Germany and is out of the semifinal clash. News from Spain is that the veteran Jesus Navas will start in his place.

Spain’s confidence, as echoed by De la Fuente, suggests they are ready for the challenge. The team’s ability to implement their defensive strategy against one of the world’s most talented forwards will be crucial to their chances of reaching the Euro 2024 final.

Luis de la Fuente’s comments serve as both a warning and a rallying cry for his team. Kylian Mbappe, despite his recent form, remains a formidable opponent capable of turning the game in an instant. Spain’s success will depend on their ability to contain him and leverage their collective strengths to secure a place in the final. The stage is set for a thrilling encounter between two of Europe’s footballing giants, with the spotlight firmly on Mbappe and Spain’s defense.

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