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Nose his worth: France skipper Mbappé takes to social media to downplay injury

By Paul Myers - RFI
France © France 24
TUE, 18 JUN 2024 LISTEN
© France 24

France skipper Kylian Mbappé displayed his fighting spirit to an anxious nation on Tuesday with a call for designs for a face mask that he can wear for the rest of his team's Euro 2024 campaign to protect his broken nose.

Mbappé was left sprawling on the turf at the Düsseldorf Arena after his face smashed into the shoulder of Austria defender Kevin Danso while challenging for a ball in the air in the Austria penalty area.

Action swiftly moved away from the Austria box but Mbappé remained grounded prompting the Austria goalkeeper Patrick Pentz to summon urgent medical care.

France team doctors who raced on to the pitch to tend their star striker stemmed the blood gushing from his nose over his hands and onto his shirt.

They led him off to administer further treatment on the touch line. 

After the game, which France won 1-0, Mbappé was taken to Düsseldorf's university hospital where tests confirmed that he had suffered a broken nose but he would not need surgery.

Mbappé took to social media during the early hours of Tuesday morning – partly to allay concerns that he might miss the rest of the tournament due to the injury –  but also to enhance the image of a team playing for an inclusive nation.

"Any ideas for a mask?" read the message on social media.

Suggestions ranging from masks with faces of leading French politicians such as President Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen immediately flooded the platform.

In 2022, Macron was among many who persuaded Mbappé to spurn a move to Real Madrid and remain at Paris Saint-Germain.

Le Pen – who leads the far-right Rassemblement National (RN) – is believed to have been the target of Mbappé's disquiet when he called on young people in France to go out and vote in the general elections in order to halt what he described as the extremes at the gates.

On a lighter level, the masks of Donatello – a character from the cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – allude to the ribbings Mbappé received from his PSG teammates who claimed he looked like the character.

Status

“Mbappé will undergo treatment in the coming days," said a French football federation statement on Tuesday. “A mask will be made so as to allow the number 10 of the French team to consider resuming competition after a period devoted to treatment.”

With Mbappé restored to the team's training camp, questions will continue over how long team doctors want to keep him from the action.

France's next game in Group D takes place on 21 June in Leipzig against the Netherlands who opened their campaign on Sunday with a 2-1 victory over Poland in Hamburg.

A win would guarantee progress to the last-16 knockout stages while a draw would probably suffice in order to advance as one of the four best third-placed teams from the six groups.

France boss Didier Deschamp, who is seeking to become the first man to win both the World Cup and European championships as a player and coach, moved quickly on Tuesday to promote the need for esprit de corps while underscoring the importance of Mbappé who will start his career at Real Madrid in August.

"If the news isn't good, we'll continue to fight without him," said the 55-year-old Frenchman. But obviously, the French team with or without him ... this is not the same thing. I hope he can be there."

France end their group stage matches with a tie against Poland on 25 June. The knockout stages begin on 30 June – the first round of polling in France's general elections.

Return

Mbappé's injury eclipsed a sparkling return to the France team for N'Golo Kanté after a two-year absence due to a loss of form and persistent injuries.

The 33-year-old moved from the Premier League outfit Chelsea to the Saudi Pro League club Al-Ittihad in June 2023. And there were raised eyebrows when Deschamps included the 2018 World Cup winner in his squad.

But Kanté, who won the 2021 Champions League with Chelsea, vindicated Deschamps' faith.

Alongside Adrien Rabiot, Kanté dazzled with his omnipresence, munificence and perceptive passing that brought him the man-of-the-match award.

"He has the tactical intelligence, the ability to win the ball back and then go forward," beamed Deschamps. "That's why I recalled him. He shone. And he was well partnered by Rabiot."

With his midfield solid and defence unbreached, Mbappé's absence might force Deschamps – who is renowned for his obdurate pragmatism – into a formation that grinds down the opposition rather than sending out a team counting on the flashes of fantasy that emanate from Mbappé's gilded boots.

As Mbappé nurses his nose, his boss will have to sniff out the alternatives.

Which team do you think has the higher chance of winning the 2024 elections?

Started: 02-07-2024 | Ends: 31-10-2024

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