body-container-line-1

Masked Mbappé expected to return for France against Poland at Euro 2024

By Paul Myers - RFI
General News © Hassan Ammar/AP
MON, 24 JUN 2024 LISTEN
© Hassan Ammar/AP

France skipper Kylian Mbappé is expected to defy a broken nose and wear a face mask so he can feature in his side's final pool match at the European championships in Germany on Tuesday evening.

Mbappé, 25, sat out last Friday's 0-0 draw against the Netherlands as he continued his recovery from the injury he sustained during the closing stages of France's opening day win over Austria on 18 June.

The stalemate in Leipzig left France and the Netherlands with four points each after two games in Group D but the Dutch top the pool as they have scored more goals.

While France play Poland, the Netherlands – seeking a first European title since 1988 – will take on  Austria in Berlin.

Should Poland beat France and Austria overcome the Netherlands, France should still be able to qualify for the last-16 knockout stages as one of the four bestthird-placed teams.

"It's no secret that Kylian wants to play against Poland," said France midfielder Aurelién Tchouaméni. "He's starting to get used to the mask. It's not going to change that much for him. We know he'll be ready when he'son the pitch."

Change

In the game against the Netherlands, the France boss Didier Deschamps anointed Antoine Griezmann skipper and pushed him into the front line alongside Marcus Thuram. Deschamps drafted Tchouaméni into the midfield alongside Adrien Rabiot and N'Golo Kanté.

Griezmann spurned two good chances to score. But the bright spot for Deschamps came in the shape of Kanté who, for the second consecutive game, was deemed man-of-the-match.

Deschamps was subjected to a barrage of criticism after he recalled the 33-year-old who had been absent from the France squad for two years due to a loss of form and a series of injuries that led Chelsea to offer him to Al-Ittihad in the Saudi Pro League.

But he bossed the midfield again injecting sobriety when France were under pressure and added  urgency to their attacks.

"N'Golo was simply brilliant," beamed Deschamps after the Netherlands tie.

And the 55-year-old will be hoping that some of Kanté's elan finds its way to Mbappé who has yet to score at a European championships.

Second phase

If France were to claim the pool, they would play the runner-up from Group F in the last-16.

Second place would give them a clash against Group E's second team and a slot as one of the four best third-placed teams could bring a match against the winner of Group E.

As Mbappé tends his nose, his England counterpart Harry Kane, was attempting to nurse expectations ahead of his side's final Group C game against Slovenia on Tuesday.

England – who lost to Italy in the final at Euro 2020 –  entered the tournament as one of the favourites for the crown.

But the squad appears burdened with the tag. A stolid 1-0 victory over Serbia was followed by a dreary performance in the 1-1 draw with Denmark.

Nevertheless, England top the group with four points from the two games. 

Improvement

"Before the tournament if you'd have said, you would be pretty much qualified after two games, you know, we would have taken it for sure," said Kane who scored in the game against Denmark to extend his feats as hiscountry's leading marksman.

"But I think we can be honest with ourselves that we haven't played the way we've wanted to play.

"But the good sign is that we've still picked up results, whilst doing that. But yeah, I think Tuesday is important just for the feeling of the group.

"Of course we want to finish top as well and just kind of take that momentum into the knockout stages."

Second place in Group C would avoid a clash with hosts Germany who finished top of Group A on Sunday night following a 1-1 draw with Switzerland. Niclas Füllkrug equalised in second-half-stoppage-time to cancel out Dan Ndoye's first-half opener.

Switzerland, as Group A runners-up, will take on whoever finishes second in Group B. With Spain confirmed as winners of the pool, Switzerland could face defending champions Italy, Croatia or Albania.

Switzerland will discover their opponents on Monday night after Spain play Albania in Düsseldorf and Italy take on Croatia in Leipzig.

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

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

body-container-line