Soccer-France aim to continue recent superiority over Dutch, with or without Mbappe


Soccer Football - Euro 2024 - Group D - Austria v France - Dusseldorf Arena, Dusseldorf, Germany - June 17, 2024 France's Kylian Mbappe in action REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo

LEIPZIG, Germany (Reuters) - France may need to plan for the absence of Kylian Mbappe in the game against the Netherlands on Friday which will likely decide who will top Group D, after their captain suffered a broken nose in the opener, while the Dutch are up against recent history.

Mbappe went off injured in Monday's 1-0 win over Austria and will need a protective mask when he does return to action. If he sits out Friday's game, the Netherlands will be relieved not to have to face the French forward again.

In the Euro qualifying phase, the two nations were also drawn in the same group, with the French coming out on top in both meetings, in which Mbappe scored four goals.

The Dutch are, in fact, his favourite opponent, having netted five times in six games against them, and the first of his 47 international goals also came against the Netherlands back in 2017.

"Obviously, the French team with or without him, this is not the same thing. I hope he can be there," Deschamps said after the Austria game.

For Mbappe, the setback is yet more Euro heartbreak. He has never scored at a Euro finals tournament, and in 2021, Mbappe's penalty was saved in the shootout with Switzerland which saw France exit at the last 16 stage.

Mbappe may yet get the chance to put things right in Germany, but for now, if France manager Didier Deschamps does need to do without his most creative and dangerous player, he may turn to a man with plenty of tournament experience.

Olivier Giroud replaced Mbappe on Monday, as he did in their last friendly game against Canada, but the striker is struggling with an adductor injury which kept him out of training on Tuesday.

"I'm not thinking about myself in that moment. I'm thinking of Kylian, of the team," Giroud said after the Austria game.

"In any case, we don't know what will happen for the next match."

This is Giroud's seventh major tournament with France, and the team's all-time leading scorer would dearly love to go out on a high having said that this would be his last.

The Netherlands are well aware of the strength of this French squad - with or without Mbappe - but given his record against them, his probable absence would only be seen as a positive.

Ronald Koeman's side also won their opening game, but had to come from behind to defeat Poland 2-1. and were guilty of missing an array of chances. They will need be more clinical in front of goal when they get the opportunity against France.

The Dutch will try to ignore recent history and instead look to the spirit of 1988, when the Netherlands won the Euros in West Germany, their only major title.

(Reporting by Trevor Stynes; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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