Euro 2024: Deschamps ‘unconcerned’ as France struggle without Mbappe

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Mbappe

All the cameras were on Kylian Mbappe as he took his place on the bench for France’s Euro 2024 game against the Netherlands and, with such attention, it was hard for him to hide his emotions.
The 25-year-old striker, who broke his nose in France’s opener, occasionally looked frustrated, at one stage had his head in his hands and also stood to shout out encouragement to his team-mates.
But he was not where he wanted to be – on the pitch – and Les Bleus badly missed him in a goalless draw where they missed numerous chances.

“I am not concerned,” France boss Didier Deschamps said about his side’s failure to score in Mbappe’s absence.
“It is just the name of the game. Sometimes you have countless chances and don’t hit the back of the net and sometimes it is the other way round.
“I would be worried if there were not any chances. Efficiency at high-level football is important and it is something we can work on.”
France wasteful without Mbappe
France are a side filled with talent in all areas of the pitch, but the statistics of how they fare without Mbappe will be concerning.
They have now failed to win any of the past seven games without the striker in the starting line-up in the past two years – drawing five and losing the other two.
While France are all but through to the knockout stage – they need only a draw in their final Group D game against Poland to guarantee a last-16 place – they have played two matches at this tournament and scored just one goal.
Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman may not admit it, but he must have been relieved to see Mbappe on the bench.
France had won both meetings when these sides met in qualifying, with Mbappe scoring four of his team’s six goals in those games.
“It is always different,” Koeman said of what it is like to face France without Mbappe.
“It is different for us and different for the France national team, we are talking about one of the best players in Europe and maybe the world, so of course that is different.”
Deschamps, though, feels there is a bigger picture to consider, and believes both Mbappe and France will benefit from him not being risked just four days after his broken nose.
He took part in training on Thursday wearing a mask, and Deschamps had suggested “everything was moving in the right direction” for Mbappe to be available.
But after the match the manager said: “If it had been a decisive game I may have thought twice about him playing or not.
“But it is important for me to think about how he is feeling, he has a bruise, he has to wear a mask and that may change his vision too.
“There is also the risk we would be taking and with each day passing we are getting to the point where he is better as well.
“I felt the wiser decision was to keep him on the bench.”
Griezmann fails to grasp opportunity
With Mbappe out, this was the chance for Antoine Griezmann to step up.
In Thursday’s pre-match news conference, he lamented his performance in the opening game against Austria – clearly feeling he should have been more involved.
Griezmann was just that against the Netherlands, but not in the way he would like to remember.
Most of France’s best chances fell to the Atletico Madrid striker. In the first half, he missed from close range, albeit the ball from Adrien Rabiot was not the best, before sending a decent opportunity wide soon after.
In the second half, he was picked out by the impressive N’Golo Kante and looked certain to score, but a poor first touch proved costly as his prodded effort was saved.
But despite the concerning finishing, Deschamps feels Griezmann has plenty to offer the team.
“Antoine doesn’t have a fixed position,” he added. “The more touches of the ball he has the better he is.
“He is someone who is generous with his football and sometimes his generosity means he doesn’t have a clear head as he should have.
“There are no fixed positions for him, he can play higher when we need him higher up the pitch.”
Kante displays the big plus for France
While there may be attacking concerns for France the big positive for them so far have been the performances of Kante.
The former Chelsea player made a surprise return to international football after a two-year absence when he was called up to Deschamps’ squad, and he has been the standout player in France’s two games so far.
“N’Golo is still out there running I think,” joked Deschamps, one hour after the game against the Netherlands had finished.
“But it is not all he does, He is able to really project us up the field [and it] is important with the rest of our midfield we have that variety and we are not that predictable for our opponent.”
Kante is clearly enjoying being back in the international fold.
“It is always important when you come back to play for your national team, especially in a competition as important as the Euros,” he said.
“I wanted to give my all in these games.”
Two fixtures down and there have been positives and negatives for France.
But with their place in the knockouts all but assured, there is still plenty of time for them, and Mbappe, to get up to full speed.



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