Tuesday, December 12, 2017

He made his mark on history – Mbappe looks forward to Buffon battle

Kylian Mbappe is looking forward to facing one of the world’s best goalkeepers Gianluigi Buffon in the semi-finals of the Champions League as Monaco prepare to host Juventus in Wednesday’s first leg.

Despite the 21-year age gap between the pair, both are seeking to win the competition for the first time in their careers, with Buffon a runner-up with Juve in 2002-03 and 2014-15.

Mbappe heads into the semi-final in blistering form – the 18-year-old has scored five goals in his last five appearances, including a brace against Borussia Dortmund in the previous round – and the teenager is keen to test himself against the experienced Buffon.

“He is a goalkeeper who has made his mark on history, one of the best in the world,” Mbappe told the UEFA website. “I’m glad I’ll play against him.

“You work every day to play against players like him. When you do, you want to give your best to beat them.

“Juventus are a great club. Everybody knows their history, the great players who played there, the great players who still play there. They’re a great team, and they eliminated Barcelona, who were also among the favourites.

“They showed they have what it takes to win the competition. But we also have qualities and we’ll do everything we can to get to the final.”

Mbappe’s 14 Ligue 1 goals look set to fire Monaco to their first title since 2000 and the striker hailed coach Leonardo Jardim for giving him a free role alongside Radamel Falcao in attack.

“I think I’m the luckiest player in our squad because I’m at the start of my career and get to play alongside a top striker like Radamel,” added Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year nominee Mbappe.

“He’s made his mark on the history of the game and scored a huge number of goals. We play a 4-4-2 with two attackers – and [Jardim] plays Radamel, who is a striker, whereas I am more of a winger up front.

“I like to move around more on the pitch, and the coach gives me the freedom to do that. I am free to go right, left or in the centre. It’s something I really like so I thank the coach for that.

“In this team there are plenty of quality players and we all make an effort for one another – that’s why we have many different scorers.

“We really want to win something together and to do that, we cannot just rely on individuals, we must do it together. It’s the best way when you want to win trophies. We are all competitors, and competitors want to win.”

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