On one side was the top scorer in European football over the past two seasons, a goal-scoring machine. On the other, the man on his way to becoming the greatest scorer in the history of the World Cups. The ease with which Kylian Mbappé scores goals, compared to the difficulties encountered by Robert Lewandowski, only reinforces how the Frenchman is a striker of another level, who has already learned, at the age of 23, how to make a difference in the most important tournament in world football. .
With the two goals he scored in yesterday’s game (4) for the round of 16 of the Qatar Cup, Mbappé reached nine in his career. In just 11 games, he has already equaled Messi, who needed 23 games to reach this mark, and left behind stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Maradona and Luís Suárez. At the age of 23, and with a possible three more World Cup games to play, the Paris Saint-Germain star deserves to be considered the biggest name of the World Cup so far.
After being the protagonist of the French title in 2018, the PSG striker has been leading the French in the quest for the third championship. There are five goals in four games, only three of them as a starter, despite not being the team’s center forward, the reference player in the area waiting for the assists of Dembelé, Griezmann, Theo Hernandez and others. In the French national team, that role belongs to Giroud, who has three goals in the Cup.
Mbappé has been used as a striker on the left, with ample freedom to enter the area. So far in the Cup, he has scored two striker goals. One, head on, against Australia. Another, appearing on the second stick to push the ball with his thigh into the goal. Against Denmark, that’s how he decided the match.
Against Poland, he repeated what he had already done against the Danes, entering the area on the left. In the first phase game, the goal came out after a little table with Theo. Yesterday, it was through the same region of the field that he scored his fourth goal in the Cup. Szczesny waited for the cross kick, and it came in the opposite corner, at the angle. In the fifth, showing his enormous resource, Mbappé reversed. He opened for the right leg and thrust in at the farthest angle.
And in the story?
Mbappé’s performance in World Cups is already on par with the two greatest scorers in the competition’s history, but the Frenchman leaves them all behind in one item: precocity. And it is what makes it possible to project that the throne of world football is within reach of the furious Frenchman who demolishes defenses with admirable ease.
Mbappé is only 23 years old (he will be 24 on the 20th), and there is an incredible coincidence in his numbers with the two players with the most goals in World Cups, the German Miroslav Klose (16 goals overall) and the Brazilian Ronaldo (15 goals marked).
The three strictly tie in the number of games it took to reach the 9 goals that Mbappé reached today: in addition to the Frenchman, there are also 11 games for Klose and Ronaldo.
Ronaldo, however, was 25 years old in his 11th game, in the 2002 World Cup, and Klose was already 28 years old when he scored 9 goals and 11 games, in the World Cup he played at home, in 2006, in Germany.
Compared to Pelé for his precocity in the French title campaign in 2018, when he was just 19 years old, Mbappé continues to sustain debates that place him alongside the greatest number 10 of all time
The “King” of Football, who is going through a delicate moment of health, had two World Cup titles at just 21 years old, won in the 1958 and 1962 editions. Mbappé is in the fight for his second title at 23, and his performance will be debated in the wheels of lovers around the world from now on for one simple reason.
Pelé, in Brazil’s second championship, in 1962, played in just two matches, until he was injured in the game against Czechoslovakia, still in the first phase.
Mbappé, if he reaches the double this year, will most likely be in the condition of protagonist in the two campaigns, something that not even Pelé obtained at the beginning of his so glorious career.
The ‘ET’ that came before Mbappe
It is clear that Mbappé’s projection in the performance with Pelé still has chapters to write, but a player from the past who seems unreachable is fellow Frenchman Just Fontaine, who scored just 13 goals in just one Cup, that of 1958, when France was eliminated in the semifinal, precisely for Pelé’s Brazil.
Fontaine’s average was a staggering 2.17 goals per game (13 goals scored in 6 games in the 1958 campaign, a record for a single edition). Another example of a scorer from those times is the Hungarian Sándor Kocsis, with 11 goals in 5 games in the 1954 World Cup, in Switzerland.
In addition to the generational issue, both Fontaine and Kocsis were relegated to the past because they played only one World Cup each. Mbappé is already participating in his second, despite still being at the beginning of a career that is increasingly out of the ordinary.
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