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Euro 2024: With masked Mbappé likely playing, France out to maintain dominance over Netherlands

LEIPZIG, Germany (AP) — Former champions France and the Netherlands clash in their second match at the European Championship. France won seven of the teams’ last eight meetings including home and away victories in qualifying. This buildup has been overshadowed by speculation about whether France star Kylian Mbappé can play after breaking his nose in the opening win over Austria. Kickoff is at 9 p.m. local (1900 GMT) on Friday. Here’s what to know about the match:

Match facts

— Mbappé broke his nose when his face collided with Austria defender Kevin Danso’s shoulder on Monday. Blood stained his white France jersey. He’ll need to wear a mask if he plays.

— If he does play, the France captain will hope to finally score at a European Championship at the sixth attempt. Mbappé has 47 goals in 80 games for France, including 12 in qualifying for the Euros, but he’s yet to score in five games at the tournament.

— France and the Netherlands are level on three points in Group D. The Dutch came from behind to beat Poland 2-1 and France needed an own goal to beat Austria 1-0.

— France defeated the Netherlands 4-0 at home and 2-1 away in qualifying. The Dutch were group runners-up.

— Dutch forward Xavi Simons will be back in Leipzig, where he played last season on loan from Paris Saint-Germain. The 21-year-old Xavi scored eight goals in 32 Bundesliga appearances to help Leipzig finish fourth. The German club hopes he’ll be back next season. He has already played 15 games for the Netherlands.

— The Netherlands won Euro ’88 with current coach Ronald Koeman in the team alongside the brilliant trio of Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten and Frank Rijkaard, who played together for AC Milan.

— The Dutch won their three group games in the last edition, then lost to the Czech Republic in the round of 16.

— France won Euro ’84 as host, then — with Didier Deschamps as captain — Euro 2000 after he captained the team to the World Cup title as host in 1998. Deschamps took over as France coach in 2012 and led France to another World Cup title in 2018.

— Other group members Austria and Poland play earlier Friday in Berlin.

Team news

— Deschamps sounded optimistic on Thursday that Mbappé will be available. The France captain trained with the rest of his teammates on the eve of the match while wearing a blue, white and red face-mask. "Everything is evolving in the right direction,” Deschamps said. “We’ll do all we can to ensure that he’ll be available tomorrow.”

— Netherlands midfielders Frenkie de Jong and Teun Koopmeiners were ruled out with injuries before the tournament. Koeman had no new injury worries on the eve on the match.

By the numbers

— Altogether, France has won 15 of the teams’ 30 previous meetings, with the Dutch winning 11. The Dutch have scored more goals in those games, 57 to 53.

— In the last four major tournaments — World Cups and European Championships — France has reached the final in three. The exception was at the pandemic-delayed Euros in 2021, where Deschamps’ team went out to Switzerland on penalties at the first knockout stage after squandering a two-goal lead with nine minutes remaining.

— France defeated Gibraltar 14-0 for a new European Championship qualifying record and the country’s biggest win.

What they’re saying

“All the people walking the streets in orange, and of course, here in the stadium, fantastic, beautiful. I’ve always dreamed of this and so far, it definitely hasn’t disappointed.” — Netherlands goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen.

“I can’t predict everything, but I have a good feeling. Our preparations have been good. We’ve got 26 players who are all in good shape. So, for us this much is a challenge. This (France) team has been playing together for a long time. They played more international matches than we have. The three points against Poland give us a bit of breathing space. We can be calm now.” – Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman.

“Our last meetings against the Netherlands go back a bit, but I remember our solidity, our ability to make the differences in attack. We knew how to be efficient, and we’ll need to do that again on Friday. Above all, we’ll have to have the same intensity as we did against Austria. It’s an essential ingredient to go as far as possible in this competition.” — France midfielder Adrien Rabiot.

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AP Euro 2024: https://apnews.com/hub/euro-2024

Ciarán Fahey, The Associated Press