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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 17 July 2024

Deschamps may gamble on Mbappe: Goal-shy at Euro so far, France desperately want their captain to return to full fitness

The striker — who broke his nose in France's opener against Austria — donned a mask to take part in a practice match on Saturday against the under-21 side of German club Paderborn in which he scored twice and set up two other goals

Our Bureau, Reuters Dortmund Published 25.06.24, 10:55 AM
France’s Kylian Mbappe

France’s Kylian Mbappe File image

France will try to finally get the goals flowing against already-eliminated Poland as they seek to finish top of their Euro 2024 group on Tuesday, but questions remain about the availability of key forward Kylian Mbappe.

The striker — who broke his nose in France's opener against Austria — donned a mask to take part in a practice match on Saturday against the under-21 side of German club Paderborn in which he scored twice and set up two other goals.

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France have so far failed to find the net themselves in Germany — they beat Austria in their opener courtesy of an own goal and drew 0-0 with the Netherlands — so coach Didier Deschamps will be tempted to bring Mbappe back against Poland.

"I think he wants to play the next match. His mask? He's getting used to it. He might like to play without it, but the doc isn't going to give him the choice! When he's on the field he will bring us a lot of things," teammate Aurelien Tchouameni said.

Netherlands sit top of Group D, having scored more goals than the French. The group winners will face the second-placed team in Group F, a spot held now by Turkey, while the runners-up will face whoever comes second in Group E where Romania, Belgium, Slovakia and Ukraine are all on three points.

Should France finish in third place, they could face England or Spain in the last-16.

On paper, Poland look like easy opponents for France — they are the only team at Euro 2024 already certain to be heading home having lost to the Netherlands and Austria.

The Dutch face trickier opposition: in-form Austria who will be hoping for a top-two finish in the group themselves.

But Poland coach Michal Probierz has said he wants to use the France match to draw a line under his side's disappointing form and get them ready for their World Cup qualifiers.

Mbappe sat out the 0-0 draw with the Netherlands which left Deschamps ruing France's failure to turn opportunities into goals.

"The only regret I have, regarding the number of chances we saw, is the fact that we didn't win," he told reporters.

The last time the two countries met, France cruised past Poland in a last-16 match at the World Cup in Qatar in 2022 with Mbappe scoring twice in a 3-1 win.

The game in Dortmund may mark the end of the international career of Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny. Captain Robert Lewandowski will probably be taking his European Championship bow at the age of 35.

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