Kylian Mbappe: France struggle without striker but Didier Deschamps 'unconcerned'


Top Moments: Netherlands and France Tie 0-0

BBC Sport reporter at the sports arena in Leipzig, Germany

All eyes were on Kylian Mbappe as he sat on the sidelines for France's Euro 2024 match against the Netherlands, making it difficult for him to conceal his feelings.

The young striker, who injured his nose in France's first game, seemed a bit frustrated at times. He even put his head in his hands and stood up to cheer on his teammates.

However, he was not in the desired position - on the field - and the French team really felt his absence in a match that ended in a draw with no goals, despite having many opportunities.

"I am not worried," France coach Didier Deschamps commented on his team's inability to score without Mbappe.

This is just how things work sometimes. You might have many opportunities but fail to score, while other times, you'll find yourself scoring easily.

I would feel concerned if there were no opportunities. Being effective in professional football is crucial and it is an area we can improve upon.

France Struggles Without Mbappe

France has a team with a lot of skill in every position, but the numbers show that they struggle when Mbappe is not on the field.

They haven't been able to win any of the last seven games without the striker playing from the beginning in the last two years - they drew five and lost the other two.

France is almost guaranteed a spot in the next round of the tournament. They just need a tie in their next game against Poland. However, in the two games they have played so far, they have only managed to score one goal.

Ronald Koeman, the manager of the Netherlands, probably felt a sense of relief when he saw that Mbappe was on the sidelines, even though he may not openly admit it.

France had been victorious in both matches when these teams played each other in the qualifying rounds. Mbappe was responsible for scoring four out of the six goals for his team in those matches.

"It's always a new experience," Koeman commented on the challenge of playing against France without Mbappe.

The situation is not the same for us as it is for the France national team. We are discussing a player who is among the top in Europe and possibly the entire world, so naturally, there is a distinction.

However, Deschamps believes it is important to look at the overall situation and thinks that both Mbappe and the French team will gain from him not playing just four days after his nose injury.

He participated in a training session on Thursday while wearing a mask, and Deschamps had indicated that everything was going well for Mbappe to be able to play.

However, the manager stated after the game that if it had been an important match, he may have hesitated before deciding whether or not to play him.

"It's crucial for me to consider his emotions and well-being. He's dealing with a bruise and has to wear a mask, which might also affect his vision."

Additionally, we must consider the potential danger involved, but as time goes on, we are seeing improvement in his condition.

I thought it was smarter to leave him on the sidelines.

Griezmann Misses Big Chance

Without Mbappe available, it was now up to Antoine Griezmann to rise to the occasion.

During the press conference before Thursday's game, he expressed his disappointment with his performance in the first match against Austria, indicating that he believed he could have done better.

Griezmann didn't have his best performance against the Netherlands, it's a game he probably wants to forget.

The Atletico Madrid striker had several of France's top scoring opportunities. He missed a close-range shot in the first half, even though the pass from Adrien Rabiot wasn't perfect, and then sent another good opportunity off target shortly after.

During the latter part of the game, he was found by the remarkable N'Golo Kante and seemed like he would score, but unfortunately, his first touch let him down and his weak shot was saved by the goalkeeper.

However, even though the finishing is worrying, Deschamps believes that Griezmann brings a lot to the team.

"Antoine's position is not set," he said. "The more times he touches the ball, the stronger he plays."

He is a player who freely shares the ball during football games, but at times this can lead to him not thinking clearly as he should.

He doesn't have a specific position, he can move forward when we want him to play closer to the opponent's goal.

Kante Shines In France Squad

Despite facing some challenges in attack, France has found a silver lining in the standout performances of Kante.

The ex-Chelsea player returned to playing for his country's national team after not being selected for two years. He has been the best player in France's first two matches.

"N'Golo is probably still out jogging somewhere," Deschamps quipped an hour after the match with the Netherlands ended.

"However, his contributions go beyond that. He has the ability to advance the ball up the field effectively. This is crucial for our midfield to have diversity and keep our opponents guessing."

Kante is clearly relishing his return to playing for his national team.

He emphasized the significance of returning to play for his country's team, especially in a prestigious event like the Euros.

"I was determined to put forth my best effort in these games."

France has played two matches so far, and there have been both good and bad aspects to their performance.

However, since they are almost guaranteed a spot in the knockout stage, they still have plenty of time to reach their maximum potential, including Mbappe.

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