Austria v France: Mbappe will never go against the collective, assures Deschamps

By Sports Desk June 15, 2024

Kylian Mbappe will always put the team first and is ready to lead from the front as France prepare to open their Euro 2024 campaign against Austria, says Didier Deschamps.

Having scored 44 goals in his final season with Paris Saint-Germain before sealing his long-awaited move to Real Madrid, Mbappe will captain his country at a first major tournament, following Hugo Lloris' international retirement.

Les Bleus are among the favourites but the same was true when they crashed out in the last 16 at Euro 2020, losing to Switzerland in a penalty shoot-out.

Mbappe failed to score at that tournament, but his coach is certain he is in top condition ahead of Monday's game in Dusseldorf.

"He is always at the centre of things. That won't change," Deschamps told The Athletic of Mbappe. 

"He will not do anything that goes against the collective interest. It won't be any problem. He is in very good shape, very happy, and concentrated on working hard. 

"The most important thing is that he has the greatest possible freedom. My objective is to put him in the best conditions, and put the team in the best conditions, so that he can be as effective as possible."

Asked about Mbappe's leadership qualities, Deschamps continued: "He speaks but he is not there to be overbearing. 

"If you are not with him, you don’t see how he is with his partners on a daily basis. He has always been part of a collective project, even if he is an extraordinary player who is able to make a difference on his own."

Opponents Austria have been touted by some as a potential surprise package after impressing in their first qualification campaign under Ralf Rangnick, finishing just one point behind Belgium.

"If we're complete, then we're a team that is very hard to beat," the former Manchester United boss said. "We're able to compete with anyone at a high level. 

"We saw that during friendlies against Germany and Italy [both 2-0 wins], but also during the qualifiers against Sweden [2-0 and 3-1 victories]. 

"We're not going to the Euros just to participate. We have faith in ourselves and believe we can qualify for the next round."

PLAYERS TO WATCH 

Austria – Marcel Sabitzer

Sabitzer was involved in six goals in seven appearances during Euro 2024 qualifying (four goals, two assists), the most of any Austria player.

The Borussia Dortmund man also created the most big chances (four) and accumulated the highest expected assists figure (1.6 xA) of any Austrian.

France – Kylian Mbappe 

Across the last three major international tournaments (2018 World Cup, Euro 2020 and 2022 World Cup), Mbappe has scored 12 goals. Harry Kane is the only European player to match that tally.

However, all of those goals have come at World Cups. He failed to convert any of his 14 shots at Euro 2020 and also missed the decisive spot-kick as France lost to Switzerland on penalties. He will be desperate to atone at this tournament, starting on Monday.

MATCH PREDICTION – FRANCE WIN

France enter Euro 2024 as one of the favourites, with the Opta supercomputer giving them a 19.1 per cent chance of lifting the trophy before the tournament began. They are expected to live up to that billing here.

Les Bleus have reached the final at three of their last four major tournaments, being losing finalists at Euro 2016 and the 2022 World Cup and winning the 2018 World Cup.

They plundered 29 goals in their eight qualifiers, with 14 different players getting on the scoresheet for them (excluding own goals) – the largest spread of any nation. 

With the likes of Ousmane Dembele, Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann – who has 18 goal contributions at major tournaments since the start of Euro 2016 (11 goals, seven assists) – supporting Mbappe, they should have too much for Austria.

Austria have only won one of their last 10 matches against France in all competitions (two draws, seven defeats), triumphing 3-1 in a 2010 World Cup qualifier in September 2008.

The teams have, however, managed one win apiece from their two previous tournament meetings. Austria claimed a 3-2 victory at the 1934 World Cup, and France won 1-0 at the 1982 competition.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Austria – 15.5% 

France – 65.8%

Draw – 18.7%

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