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Mbappe wants to write own script ahead of blockbuster Ronaldo clash

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 4 Jul 2024

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Kylian Mbappe is determined to write his own script when he has the “honour” of facing Cristiano Ronaldo in the Euro 2024 quarter-finals.

France will take on Portugal for a place in the last four on Friday, having overcome Belgium 1-0 in the last 16 via a late Jan Vertonghen own goal.

Portugal, meanwhile, beat Slovenia on penalties after Ronaldo missed a plethora of chances in a goalless draw, seeing an extra-time spot-kick saved by Jan Oblak.

Ronaldo has had more shots (20) than any other player at Euro 2024, accumulating a total expected goals (xG) figure of 2.75 but failing to score.

At each of his previous 10 major international tournaments (World Cup or European Championships), he got off the mark before the end of the group stage.

The battle between Mbappe and Ronaldo is sure to turn heads on Friday, with the former also enduring a frustrating tournament, suffering a broken nose in Les Bleus’ first group match and only scoring from the penalty spot against Poland on matchday three.

Many have touted Mbappe as something of a successor to Ronaldo since he sealed his move to Real Madrid, but the France skipper is determined to be his own player.

“It’s an honour, everyone knows the admiration I have for him,” Mbappe said of Ronaldo at Thursday’s pre-match press conference.

“We are always in touch. He will remain a legend of the game but we hope to beat him tomorrow.

“Do I envy him? You have to know how to appreciate what he is and what he has been. He is a unique player, his CV speaks for itself. We have respect for him.

“He’s unique! There is only one like him. I just want to follow my passage. I hope that I will write a big page at Real but it will be different to his.”

France lost to Portugal on home soil in the Euro 2016 final, with Eder netting an extra-time winner as Ronaldo gave instructions from the sidelines after going off injured.

Didier Deschamps refused to be drawn on whether the Selecao have regressed since then, saying: “They were strong. That was eight years ago but it was painful.

“I don’t know if they are stronger or weaker, but we’re in the quarter-finals. All the best teams are there. They are one of the best teams in Europe. It will be a great game.”

France are yet to score a goal from open play at this tournament, only netting via an Mbappe penalty and two own goals, leading to criticism from the media at home.

Les Bleus’ total of 67 shots has only been bettered by Spain (82), Portugal (73) and Germany (72), but they have underperformed their xG figures by a greater margin (-3.94, three goals from 6.94 xG) than any other side at the tournament.

Asked about that criticism, Deschamps said: “That is a popular craze now. There are people who may not be happy but I have seen other people happy.

“It would be more exciting to win 5-4, for sure. The critics are there to do their job, they have always been part of my daily life. It doesn’t stop me from living.”

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