Kylian Mbappe is 19 years old.
I know young players have succeeded in World Cups before. But I think it’s important to just stress that again. He’s 19 years old. Age of a college freshman here in the states. A time when most people are figuring out who they are, learning how to be a person. For soccer players, it’s a time to learn how to play the game, figure out how to succeed within a team. It’s a time to grow.
We all better hope Mbappe doesn’t have a lot of growing left to do, because if he does, no one in soccer is going to be able to stop him.
Mbappe completely took over the France vs. Argentina Round of 16 World Cup game on Saturday, scoring two and directly leading to the first goal with a combination of technique, creativity, and the sort of pace that’s kind of hard to wrap your mind around. It was all on display.
Here’s his first goal, with a touch to break down the defense I can’t stop screaming about.
And here’s the second, which like, OK, what are you supposed to do about this?
Mbappé AGAIN!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 30, 2018
The 19-year-old gets his second of the game to put France up 4-2. pic.twitter.com/1mY2fN2MBc
He’s unstoppable. He’s too much for them. He’s too skilled, too explosive, too dynamic. They don’t have an answer.
Back in the first half, it started with one bad touch from Argentina’s Ever Banega. They happen, bad touches do, though usually when you’re 80 yards away from your goal, they’re not that big a deal.
When you’re playing against Kylian Mbappe, however, they are a big deal.
France got their first goal off a penalty kick that was created by nothing more than a few touches from Mbappe and the type of pace that is generational. This is Thierry Henry in his prime pace.
Look at this thing:
I mean, how does a penalty come from this? Banega took a bad touch outside France’s box, then Mbappe stepped into the ball, took one big touch forward, and that was it.
I watched him accelerate and started yelling at the TV before he reached half field. It was so obvious what was coming. One touch beat three Argentina midfielders. The next touch got him into the other half. The final touch around Marcos Rojo and that was it — Rojo had no choice but to tackle him. Like, form tackle. American football tackle. Penalty, Griezmann converts, and it’s 1-0 France.
Griezmann puts France ahead!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 30, 2018
Mbappé draws a penalty for Les Bleus and Griezmann puts it away to make it 1-0. pic.twitter.com/pzj63fhQi0
Minutes later, Paul Pogba took a quick free kick from his own half, and again it was to Mbappe, and again Argentina could do nothing. The pass was basically Tom Brady to Randy Moss, just on a soccer field. Pogba fired in a ball 50 yards over the top, Mbappe beat the entire Argentina defense with his speed, and got taken down right outside the box for what probably should have been a red card.
Pogba couldn’t convert the free kick, but France found what was working. Argentina was playing Messi as a False 9, and brought on midfielders to try and glut things up and slow down France.
That was fine for France. Argentina could bring on all the midfielders they wanted to. France just went over the top, and the 19-year-old beat them all. Even when France couldn’t play it over the top, it didn’t matter. Mbappe just ran through them.