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Kylian Mbappe reveals World Cup ‘obsession’ ahead of England quarter-final

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Kylian Mbappe has labelled the World Cup his “obsession” following his star turn in France’s round of 16 win over Poland.

The PSG star was in electric form on Sunday, scoring two goals and creating another in Les Bleus’ comfortable 3-1 win. In scoring two the 23-year-old broke Pele’s record for most goals at World Cups before the age of 24, bested Diego Maradona and Cristiano Ronaldo’s eight goals at World Cups, and went joint level with Lionel Messi with nine – getting to that tally in 12 less games than the Argentina star.

Speaking to the press after the win, Mbappe admitted that his season to this point has been geared around being 100% ready for the tournament in Qatar.

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“Of course, this World Cup is an obsession for me, it’s the competition of my dreams. I have built my season around this competition and around being ready both physically and mentally for it.

“I wanted to come here ready and so far things are going well, but we are still a long way from the objective we set and that I set.

Harry Symeou hosts Andy Headspeath, Toby Cudworth & La Liga TV presenter Semra Hunter to look back on the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa – join us!

If you can’t see the podcast embed, click here to download or listen to the episode in full!

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“The only objective for me is to win the World Cup which means now to win the quarter-final,” said Mbappe, who also set up the opening goal against Poland for Olivier Giroud.

“That is what I am dreaming of. I didn’t come here to win the Golden Ball. That is not why I am here. I am here to win and help the French national team.”

France’s reward for beating Poland is a quarter-final showdown with England on Saturday night. Gareth Southgate’s side secured their last place in the last eight with a comfortable 3-0 win over Senegal, delivered through goals from Jordan Henderson, Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka.



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Man Utd’s fixture list up to Carabao Cup final including Barcelona & Leeds clashes

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Manchester United reached their first final under Erik ten Hag by securing safe passage through the Carabao Cup semi finals at the expense of Nottingham Forest.

The Red Devils have enjoyed a brilliant run of form after their infamous defeats to Brighton and Brentford to start the season. They’re firmly in the Champions League qualification mix and remain alive in the FA Cup and Europa League.

However, their commitments in cup competitions means Ten Hag faces a tough February as he tries to balance the playing time of a squad that has recently been struck by injuries to key players.

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Here’s United’s truncated schedule leading up to the Carabao Cup final, including some juicy derbies and European fixtures.

Michael Olise, David De Gea

Olise denied Man Utd with a late free kick last time out / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

Fresh from sealing their spot in the Carabao Cup final against Newcastle, United are back into Premier League matters when they host Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Saturday 4 February in a 15:00 GMT kick off.

The two sides duked it out earlier a few weeks ago in their first meeting of the season as a late Michael Olise free-kick earned Palace a point after Bruno Fernandes’ strike just before half time.

Manchester United and Leeds are fierce rivals and the tension between the two teams has risen again following Leeds’ promotion to the Premier League.

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The Red Devils have scored 15 goals in the four meetings in that time, only failing to win once when they were held to a goalless draw in April 2021. The fixture was originally postponed following Queen Elizabeth II’s death in September and will take place on Wednesday 8 February at 20:00 GMT.

Fred, Anthony Elanga

Fred and Elanga struck at Elland Road last season / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

That fixture rearrangement means the two Uniteds will face each other twice in four days.

In this fixture last season, two headless chickens went at it as Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds were downed 4-2 by Ralf Rangnick’s Man Utd. Goals from Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes had the visitors 2-0 up before two goals in two minutes from Rodrigo and Raphinha squared things up.

Substitutes Fred and Anthony Elanga gave the Red Devils all three points. However, they would win only three more league games before the end of the season.

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The stakes are really upped in mid February when Man Utd travel to Barcelona to face the Catalan giants at Camp Nou in the Europa League knockout play-off round.

It’s Barça who hold the edge in recent meetings, having won the past four games between the two sides.

Once they return home from the trip to Catalonia, United have a home game against Leicester to contend with.

The Foxes have endured some turbulent form this season but have mostly been a mess at the back, though the sides were only separated by Jadon Sancho’s strike they met back in September.

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Lionel Messi

A lot has changed since United and Barça last met in 2019 / Etsuo Hara/GettyImages

The return leg of the Europa League knockout play-off round will determine who between United and Barça continue in the continent’s secondary club competition.

United’s last win over Barça came at Old Trafford in 2008 when Paul Scholes scored the only goal of a Champions League semi final tie to send his side to final in Moscow.

Two of the most improved sides this season meet in the Carabao Cup final in late February when Newcastle face Man Utd.

Both sides are eyeing up Champions League qualification and each sit in the top four currently and this meeting could be an opportunity to land a significant psychological blow.

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Player ratings as Catalans pull clear in La Liga

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Barcelona survived a late scare against Real Betis to secure a 2-1 win and at least temporarily extend their lead at the top of La Liga to eight points before Real Madrid play on Thursday night.

Barça went into the game at Benito Villamarin knowing they had the opportunity to start pulling away from their fierce rivals in Madrid. But it took until well into the second half for the breakthrough to come, with Raphinha and later Robert Lewandowski eventually netting.

An own goal from Joules Kounde in the closing stages threatened to make it a difficult end for Xavi’s team, but they managed to see it out. Betis midfielder William Carvalho, who had already been substituted with an hour played, was then sent off for dissent at the game’s conclusion.

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Betis were actually the first to threaten in the contest, seeing Luiz Henrique only narrowly miss an early chance when his shot was deflected just wide by Alejandro Balde.

Pedri had a chance for Barça at the other end not long after, but his touch in the penalty area wasn’t sharp enough and Rui Silva in the home goal got down to pick the ball off his toe.

Silva again denied Pedri after the restart, but Raphinha broke the deadlock in the 65th minute. The Brazilian, whose debut season hasn’t been a rip-roaring success, tapped in from close range after excellent work from Balde down the left flank.

Lewandowski’s ultimately decisive second was from only a little further out, pounced on by the Pole after Ronald Araujo flicked on Raphinha’s cross.

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That cushion was enough for Barça and ensured that Kounde’s own goal mattered little in the end.

GK: Silva (6); RB: Ruibal (7), CB: Pezzella (6), CB: Felipe (6), LB: Abner (6); CM: Rodriguez (6), CM: Carvalho (5); RM: Henrique (7), AM: Fekir (6), LM: Canales (6); ST: Iglesias (6)

Subs: Guardado (6), Juanmi (6), Rodri (6), Jose (5), Sabaly (6)

GK: Ter Stegen (6); RB: Kounde (6), CB: Araujo (7), CB: Chistensen (7), LB: Balde (8); CM: De Jong (7), CM: Busquets (8), CM: Pedri (7); RW: Raphinha (8), ST: Lewandowski (7), LW: Gavi (7)

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Subs: Fati (5), Torres (N/A), Kessie (N/A)

Player of the match – Alejandro Balde (Barcelona)



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Player ratings as Mbappe injury mars routine win

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Paris Saint-Germain’s 3-1 win over Montpellier in Ligue 1 on Wednesday night was marred by Kylian Mbappe limping from the field with a suspected hamstring injury.

The Frenchman wandered off down the tunnel after just 21 minutes, which will no doubt concern PSG’s supporters less than two weeks before the Parisians are due to lock horns with Bayern Munich in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Mbappe’s absence didn’t affect the result of the game, as Fabian Ruiz, Lionel Messi and Warren Zaire-Emery bagged second half goals for PSG, but the Frenchman did have a rather eventful night despite being on the field for less than a quarter of the game.

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After Sergio Ramos was hauled down in the area, Mbappe saw his ninth minute penalty saved by Montpellier goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte, only for VAR to determine that he’d come off of his line too soon.

But Mbappe missed the second spot kick as well, with Lecomte again denying him, before he sunk to the turf 10 minutes later clutching his hamstring.

Messi had a goal chalked off by VAR for offside before the half-time interval as PSG dominated, and it was deja vu eight minutes after the break when Achraf Hakimi also had an effort ruled out by the officials.

PSG weren’t to be denied though, and they took the lead through Ruiz after some good smart build-up play involving Vitinha, Hakimi and Mbappe’s replacement, Hugo Ekitike.

Spanish midfielder Ruiz then produced a sublime assist for Messi’s goal 15 minutes time, linking up nicely with Ekitike before sliding a perfectly weighted pass through to the Argentine. He, inevitably, did the rest by dinking the ball past the impressive Lecomte.

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Montpellier scored in stoppage time to reduce the arrears when PSG could, and should, have been out of sight, and almost levelled the game when the visitors were caught dozing moments later.

Zaire-Emery, aged just 16, sealed the deal to become PSG’s youngest ever goalscorer, but the main worry for Christophe Galtier will be whether Mbappe is fit to face Bayern when the Champions League returns to the Parc des Princes on Valentine’s night.

Warren Zaire-Emery is PSG's bright new star

Warren Zaire-Emery is PSG’s bright new star / PASCAL GUYOT/GettyImages

GK: Gianluigi Donnarumma – 6/10 – Statuesque as Arnaud Nordin pulled a goal back for Montpellier late on. Didn’t have much to do.

RB: Achraf Hakimi – 7/10 – Denied a fantastic goal by the assitant referee’s flag. There are few better full-backs to watch than Hakimi when he’s in full flow.

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CB: Marquinhos – 7/10 – Passing accuracy was on point and seemed to be in full control until a late blip almost cost PSG dear.

CB: Sergio Ramos – 6/10 – Was doing pretty well, even winning a penalty, before an unfortunate clash of heads ended the Spaniard’s night.

LB: Nuno Mendes – 6/10 – Still working his way back to full fitness but got a good hour and a bit under his belt.

DM: Danilo Pereira – 6/10 – Slipped into the back four after Sergio Ramos went off injured – a role he’s becoming increasingly familiar with.

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RCM: Carlos Soler – 6/10 – A little quiet compared to those around him and was often outduelled.

CM: Vitinha – 7/10 – Again impressive in the heart of midfield, playing a key role in PSG’s opening goal.

LCM: Fabian Ruiz – 8/10 – Was in the right place at the right time to give PSG the lead, and then produced a fantasticly weighted pass for Messi’s goal.

ST: Lionel Messi – 8/10 – Denied by VAR in the first half but showed his class to put the game beyond Montpellier. The lead orchestrator of all things good, as per.

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ST: Kylian Mbappe – 4/10 – Missed two penalties and went off injured. Not a night for Mbappe to remember.

Substitutes

SUB: Hugo Ekitike – 7/10 – Gave PSG an outlet up front, and his hard work and endeavour allowed PSG to break the deadlock.

SUB: Renato Sanches – 6/10 – Helped PSG control proceedings after coming on for the injured Ramos.

SUB: Warren Zaire-Emery – 7/10 – Took his goal superbly to become PSG’s youngest ever goalscorer. A real talent.

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SUB: Juan Bernat – 6/10 – A steady but unspectacular 20 minutes or so for the former Bayern Munich man.

Player of the Match: Fabian Ruiz (PSG)





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