Blanc: Mbappe & Hazard are phenomenons!

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The 1998 World Cup winner has warned France not to expect too much of the Paris Saint-Germain teenager too soon

Former France boss Laurent Blanc has hailed Kylian Mbappe and Eden Hazard as “phenomenons”.

The pair will go head to head in the World Cup semi-final on Tuesday, when France will tackle Belgium in St Petersburg.

Both players have been key as their respective sides have won through to the final four, with Mbappe notably shining against Argentina, while Hazard has impressed with a string of excellent displays, the latest of which came in the 2-1 victory over Brazil in the quarter-final.

Blanc has been particularly impressed by the 19-year-old Frenchman but has warned that it is too early to expect too much from him consistently.

“My opinion’s not changed on him for 10 months: he’s a phenomenon,” he told Le Parisien. “That’s not to say he’ll make us win all the time. He’s young. He’s still going to misfire sometimes – as little as possible, I hope for him and the France team.

“We must be patient with young players. But he’s got more than talent.

“He’s a guy who can scare defenders. The whole team benefits from the fear that the opposition have for him. That’s good for the collective. 

“At 19, you can’t have everything. It’s not possible. I hope that he won’t be perturbed. I hope we’ll see the fullness of his talents for a long time.”

Sounded out as a possible alternative to Maurizio Sarri for the Chelsea job, Blanc does not believe France will have it easy against Belgium.

“They’ve got a phenomenon of their own with Eden Hazard,” he pointed out.

“They’ve a very effective system, especially on the counterattack. Brazil were victims of that.

“They’ve players who stick to the game plan. It’ll be complicated because they’ve made a very good impression. Their attacking trio is excellent.”

Eden Hazard Belgium 2018

Former France striker Thierry Henry will find himself on the other side of the fence for the midweek encounter and Blanc admits he finds it strange to see his former international colleague in the opposing dugout.

“I find it a little bizarre,” he said. “It surprised me, but it’s like that.

“For Thierry, having seen the quality of Belgium’s attackers, he must be very happy because he’s got a lot to work with.”

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Meanwhile, Blanc sees France as a team capable of emulating the feat of his generation in 1998. 

“Yes. I said it!” he replied when asked if Les Bleus can go all the way. “Everyone I meet on the street says that we’re going to win the World Cup. It was only two or three months ago no one believed it was possible. 

“France have shown they’re capable, but the hardest part starts now.”

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