France scare over Kylian Mbappe’s broken nose as Didier Deschamps handles adversity ahead of Netherlands clash

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Austria v France: Group D - UEFA EURO 2024
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France are up and running at UEFA Euro 2024 after a 1-0 victory over Austria to open Group D with three points. But the win came at a cost with Kylian Mbappe suffering a broken nose which forced him off late on in Dusseldorf on Monday. The French captain inspired his team to their triumph with a scintillating moment of brilliance, which resulted in Maximilian Wober putting through his own net as halftime approached. However, a second-half miss and a late clash of heads with Kevin Danso ensured that Mbappe’s fitness is now a more major worry.

“Kylian’s nose is not fine at all,” said head coach Didier Deschamps moments after the final whistle. “We will see, but obviously it is the biggest negative to take from this evening” he added of the broken nose which will see him now require a mask to play on. “Kylian Mbappe has suffered a broken nose,” confirmed the French Football Federation via a statement issued via the French press overnight. He is back in camp with the rest of the squad and will undergo treatment in the coming days without undergoing immediate surgery. A mask will be constructed in order to enable the French team’s No. 10 to consider resuming competition after a period of treatment” 

Aside from the drama around Mbappe and his latest fitness concerns on top of the rustiness from his final few months with Paris Saint-Germain — which many believe has left him lacking crucial fitness ahead of this tournament — it was more or less textbook France under Deschamps. Like at UEFA Euro 2020, Les Bleus’ win was a narrow one secured by an own goal with Wober replacing the then-unfortunate Mats Hummels in handing the French their first success of the campaign and a 100th win under their serial winner tactician. 

Deschamps has made an art form out of grinding out results in major international tournaments and although Euro 2020 did not go according to plan, this could mirror the 2022 World Cup which saw France grow into the competition as they progressed along. The quality and strength in depth possessed by the two-time winners is unrivaled in this edition, but it regularly takes them time for the individual and collective excellence to truly blend with the gradual momentum which often makes them difficult to stop as they hurtle towards the business end. 

N’Golo Kante stepping back into midfield as if he had never been away was notable as Deschamps often likes to build around familiarity and is unlikely to ring too many changes against the Dutch with a possible knockout round berth already there for the taking as early as possible. Olivier Giroud also came on so has now played in his seventh major international tournament to level Hugo Lloris, Thierry Henry and Lilian Thuram but he could be required to play more than just the role of history maker if Mbappe’s nose injury threatens his meaningful future involvement. 

Much will depend on the next few days ahead of the trip to Leipzig to face Oranje, but it is already building up to be a critical game and Deschamps relishes embattled situations such as this which is not dissimilar to the physical losses early in the 2022 World cup which galvanized France. What usually comes next is a more convincing showing against higher quality opposition which reassures everybody that Les Bleus are favorites for a reason before an opportunity to potentially rotate players in the final group game with a view to the round of 16. 

There are few with as strong tournament pedigree as Deschamps but it is not always beautiful viewing for the neutral which is what happened again here. That said, Mbappe did underline how important individual brilliance remains to this extremely talented side which is nowhere near its frightening full potential after game one.

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