PLAYER RATINGS | France 1-0 Austria: Les Bleus win but lose Kylian Mbappé

PLAYER RATINGS | France 1-0 Austria: Les Bleus win but lose Kylian Mbappé

UEFA Euro 2024, Group Stages, 17/06/24

France began their Euro 2024 campaign with a narrow 1-0 win over Austria thanks to a Max Wöber own goal, however, Kylian Mbappé’s departure with a suspected broken nose is a big blow for Les Bleus.

The two sides largely neutralised each other in the first half and chances were very much at a premium. As usual, the main source of threat came down the left but not necessarily from Kylian Mbappé. Instead, it was Theo Hernandez, with his under-lapping and over-lapping runs that caused a relatively settled Austria defence the most problems.

It was one of the AC Milan defender’s runs that contributed to Les Bleus’ best chance of the half. He combined with Adrien Rabiot, who put the ball through to Mbappé. The soon-to-be Real Madrid forward opened his body, indicating a shot to the far corner, but he instead dragged the shot to the near post. Patrick Pentz telegraphed it, tipping the ball around the corner.

But it was Austria who had the best chance of the half and it fell to Christoph Baumgartner. He latched onto Marcel Sabitzer’s knock-down within the France penalty area but he couldn’t beat Mike Maignan, starting in a major tournament for the first time, when one-on-one.

They were made to rue that miss just seconds later. Mbappé floated across the front line and found himself on the right-hand side. He put a ball back into the box, which was then inexplicably diverted into his own net by Max Wöber. No country has benefitted from as many own goals in the history of the Euros.

It was a relatively flat affair in the first half with few moments of tension but that changed in the second half. Mbappé began the half by missing what for his own standards, was a sitter. One-on-one with Pentz, everyone expected the net to bulge but he curled wide, to his belief and that of everyone watching.

The big flashpoint came late in the half. Mbappé headbutted Kevin Danso’s shoulder, suffering a suspected broken nose. Deschamps wanted to make the change but the referee didn’t oblige. Mbappé took matters into his own hands. Unauthorised, he walked back onto the pitch, forcing the referee to stop play. Deschamps was furious, the Austria fans too. The captain was shown a yellow as he trudged down the tunnel. Will we see him against the Netherlands? His substitute, Olivier Giroud, missed a late chance but France held on to begin their Euro 2024 campaign with a win.

France player ratings

Mike Maignan – 7

Going into major tournament as France’s No.1 for the first time, Maignan was composed in goal and at times brave. An error-free performance is the perfect way for the AC Milan shot-stopper to begin his tournament.

Théo Hernandez – 7

France’s main source of threat with his under-lapping and over-lapping runs, which were particularly threatening in the first half. He would have had an assist had Griezmann kept up with the play and he was not exposed defensively. In the absence of his brother, Lucas, a very accomplished performance.

Dayot Upamecano – 5
William Saliba – 6

Starting for the first time for France in a major tournament, he did most things right and showed the right amount of aggression when pushing up into the midfield. His attempted over-the-shoulder volley, which went straight to an Austria player in a dangerous position perhaps constitutes one of the “things” that Didier Deschamps infamously “doesn’t like”, as does his missed challenge late in the game, but overall, he can be happy.

Jules Koundé – 5
Adrien Rabiot – 6
N’Golo Kanté – 8

On his big re-introduction onto the European stage, Kanté showed that he still has it. It was a strong, disruptive performance from the midfielder, who now plies his trade in Saudi Arabia, whilst he also had the vision in the final third to make the difference and create threatening situations. He certainly still has something to offer this France team. Aurélien Tchouaméni will be fit to start against the Netherlands but can he displace the returning and reinvigorated Kanté?

Antoine Griezmann – 5
Kylian Mbappé – 5

A mixed bag to say the least. It’s a game that he will remember for two moments: a huge missed chance and a bloodied nose. He lacked his usual clinical edge but showed some good link-up with Hernandez in particular before being substituted with a suspected broken nose late in the match.

Marcus Thuram – 4
Ousmane Dembélé – 6

GFFN | Luke Entwistle