Connect with us


France’s ‘luck’ continues as Mbappe struggles with mask

Kylian Mbappe reacts after France miss a chance against Belgium

Appearing to adjust his mask a couple of times during France’s last-16 win against Belgium, it was clear Kylian Mbappe is not yet comfortable wearing it.

But he is not the only one in France’s forward line looking uncomfortable as the side once again failed to deliver in front of goal.

Instead it was a Jan Vertonghen own goal in the 85th minute, when Randal Kolo Muani’s strike deflected off him, that was enough to send Les Bleus into the quarter-finals of Euro 2024.

That took their tally in Germany to three goals, none of which have been scored from open play.

France had 19 shots against the Belgians but just two were on target and ultimately it was a touch of fortune that saw them through.

Goals, or the lack of, has been an issue raised regularly in France press conferences after games in Germany, but once again boss Didier Deschamps was defiant when faced with criticism of his side’s efficiency in attack.

“If it is a deflected goal, even if it is an own goal, someone had to shoot,” Deschamps said. “It ended up in the back of the net.”

Scoring stats don’t make for good reading

Football in its simplest form is entertainment, and scoring goals plays a big part in that.

Speaking to one France fan before Monday’s match in Dusseldorf, he complained that they were too boring, and the statistics make it hard to argue with that.

Of the teams remaining in the tournament they are the lowest scorers with just three goals. That’s seven fewer than hosts Germany who, rather than scraping through, seem to be building momentum with every game.

None of France’s three goals have come from open play.

It was an Austria own goal that gave them victory in their first game of the tournament, an Mbappe penalty against Poland was their second before Vertonghen’s own goal became their third.

While Deschamps would not acknowledge it as a problem, he accepted it is something that needs to improve.

“We have always got the capacity and capability to score more,” he said. “I know it is a bit tricky for us since the beginning of the Euros, but we have had the chances.

“We need to push the destiny to make sure things go our way, but we don’t want it to be a psychological barrier.”

France were perhaps fortunate to face a Belgian side that appeared to pay them too much respect and were far too cautious for long periods of the game.

Heading deeper into the competition, and potentially facing more confident sides, they will arguably need their attackers to start delivering.

“Part of me thinks sometimes in football you create your own luck but I don’t think they are going to have much more luck,” former England midfielder Izzy Christiansen said on BBC Radio 5 Live.

“They have to go and own it now. Whoever they do end up facing in the quarter-finals, they have to go and own it.”

‘Mbappe has to get used to the mask – it could be for a few months’

Deschamps has tried a number of approaches to get his forward line firing, from benching Antoine Griezmann to tweaking the formation.

But the 55-year-old knows that getting Mbappe comfortable with wearing a protective mask on his broken nose could help significantly.

The incoming Real Madrid striker has scored 48 goals in 82 appearances for France and an incredible 256 goals in 308 appearances at his last club Paris St-Germain.

Against Belgium the movement was there, shifting his body quickly to open up space, but then the finish was left wanting, often going a few metres above the goal when in normal circumstances the ball would be hitting the back of the net.

“He is getting used to it,” stressed Deschamps.

“Sweating can still bother him. It can get in the eyes. But it’s complicated for his vision, it’s 10ths of a second, but it’s important.

“He’s going to have to get used to it because he might wear it for a few weeks or even a few months.”

France will hope Mbappe will be able to get more comfortable with the mask quickly to ensure they are firing on all cylinders when the quarter-finals begin.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply


Must See


More in Football