A month after facing each other over two legs of the Champions League semifinal, Mason Mount and Luka Modrić will once again go head-to-head with the eyes of the world watching, this time in England’s opening match at the 2020/1 European Championships. The stakes are slightly lower in this case, it being just a group match, but it’ll be an occasion to cherish nonetheless — certainly for the young Chelsea man, for whom this will be the first competitive match at a major tournament with the senior national team.
Then again, if there’s one thing we know about Mount, it’s that he won’t be cowed by the big occasion — or even the big temperatures, with the forecast calling for almost 30°C (86°F) for the 2pm kick-off at Wembley on Sunday.
“We’ve played a lot of football some of us but I think when you’re coming into a major tournament playing for your country all of that goes out the window — that tiredness in the legs, the long season, you don’t really worry about that. All you’re worrying about is doing well, going far in the tournament, and performing to the best of your ability and, as I said before, making the nation proud watching at home and everyone getting together and supporting us. That’s the most important thing.”
“[...] when you’re playing football and it’s the heat of the moment — literally — in the game, the pressure’s on, you’ve got to kind of put that at the back of your mind. Obviously it’s going to be tough at two o’clock, it’s going to be a tough game, but we’re ready and I think a lot of the boys have had experience in the past of dealing with this, playing in heat or any other circumstance. We’re ready and I don’t think it will play a big part in the game.”
-Mason Mount; source: Football.London
Mount and Chelsea emerged victorious against Modrić’s Real Madrid on our way to winning the Champions League. Similar success is far from guaranteed with England, though Mount now has even more experience in terms of facing one of the greatest midfielders of the modern game.
“He has always been a player that I have looked up to. Ever since he has been in the Premier League with Tottenham, I have watched him quite closely. Playing against him, it was weird because I had watched him so much, I kind of knew his moves and what he was going to do.
“It helps being a fan of a player and then playing against him because you know what he likes to do. The experience of playing against him helps because you want to be in these big games and learn how to handle the pressure and big moments. Them two games [against Real Madrid] were massive in our run and I gained a lot of experience from the two games.”
-Mason Mount; source: Goal
England and Croatia both reach the semifinals of the 2018 World Cup, and similar success will surely be expected this time around. Sunday’s match is a chance to set the tone then, and start the tournament on the front foot. Mount and his fellow Chelsea cohorts Ben Chilwell and Reece James will surely be ready — though so will be Mateo Kovačić on the other side.
Should be a fun one to watch!