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Euro 2024: Mbappe and France on a mission to become favorites

France forward No. 10 Kylian Mbappe holds the ball during the MD-1 training session at the Paul Jans Stadium in Dusseldorf on June 16, 2024 on the eve of the Euro 2024 Group D football match against Austria. ball.

France forward No. 10 Kylian Mbappe holds the ball during the MD-1 training session at the Paul Janes Arena in Dusseldorf on June 16, 2024 on the eve of the Euro 2024 Group D match against Austria. . | Image source: AFP

Kylian Mbappe and France have reached the finals of the past two World Cups but go into Monday’s Euro 2024 clash with Austria on a mission they have suffered in recent continental tournaments disappointment.

France won the World Cup in Russia in 2018, with the then-teenage Kylian Mbappe announcing his place on the global stage, but the 2022 final is set to end after an epic battle with Argentina in Doha. , only lost in a penalty shootout.

They also won the UEFA Nations League in 2021, but France have failed to win the European Cup since Didier Deschamps took over as coach in 2012.

In 2016, runners-up as hosts, they were beaten in the final by Portugal in extra time at a sweltering Stade de France, leaving them with painful memories of the last European Championship three years ago.

Deschamps’ side were eliminated in the last 16 of the postponed Euro 2020, squandering a 3-1 lead before losing to Switzerland on penalties.

Mbappe missed the decisive goal and the 25-year-old, who has just signed for Real Madrid, will now hope to make amends by leading his country to glory in Germany.

France have won the European Championship twice, most recently in 2000 with the then 31-year-old Deschamps as captain.

“No matter what happens, he has left an indelible mark on the French national team,” Mbappe said of Deschamps in an interview with France’s Ouest newspaper.

“Now, if he wants to make more history, we need to do something this summer because the European Cup is the only thing he is missing as a coach.

“After that, he’s going to check every box.”

France are arguably the best candidates to lift the trophy on July 14 in Berlin, the same Olympic Stadium where they lost on penalties to Italy in the 2006 World Cup final.

The Netherlands and Poland are also drawn in Group D after meeting an improved Austria in Dusseldorf on Monday.

– Find the form –

France haven’t been entirely convinced in their last few games, including a goalless draw with Canada last weekend.

Still, there are explanations for this and hopefully the Blues can find their best form in Germany.

Deschamps has been making tactical adjustments, which always take time to digest.

He has experimented a bit with Antoine Griezmann in the position, but it feels like the Atletico Madrid man will once again assume the midfield role he excelled in at Qatar.

Things are different on the French left, with Theo Hernandez likely to play in an advanced role behind Marcus Thuram.

The Inter Milan striker will start on the wing, with Kylian Mbappe starting in the center and 37-year-old Olivier Giroud no longer starting.

– Kante returns, Saliba has a chance –

Then there’s the return of N’Golo Kante, now 33 and playing in Saudi Arabia.

He missed the 2022 World Cup through injury but was recalled by Didier Deschamps after a two-year absence and is set to start against Austria.

His experience and that of Giroud will be crucial for a young squad made up of 11 players aged 25 or under.

“I’m full of excitement, nostalgia and desire. The main goal is to have the best tournament possible,” Giroud said as he prepares for his final major tournament.

“The 2016 final is still in my mind. It was a tournament I dreamed of winning.”

Several French players have spoken in recent days of upcoming elections in which the far-right could win in the country’s parliament.

These elections will take place during the tournament and Deschamps’ squad – the majority of whom are from immigrant backgrounds – can expect regular questions on the subject.

The coach hopes his players won’t be distracted by that, but rather motivated by a desire to win and bring a divided country together.

There is no doubt that France has the players to go all the way and surpass the electric Mbappe.

There are doubts over their centre-backs but Arsenal’s William Saliba is aiming to establish himself in the squad after a brilliant season in England.

Griezmann is inspiring, while Ousmane Dembélé is a nightmare for right-wing backs.

“We are all relaxed. Our ambition has not changed. Just because we are calm doesn’t mean we will win the European Cup, but we will do our best,” winger Kingsley Coman said.

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