• Thursday, July 18, 2024
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Euro 2024: Mbappe benched as France play goalless with Netherlands


Kylian Mbappe was left on the bench as France and the Netherlands played to a goalless draw in their second Group D match of Euro 2024.

The French captain sat out the entire match after breaking his nose in France’s opening 1-0 win over Austria just four days back. France clearly missed their star player as they failed to capitalise on several scoring opportunities.

Xavi Simons had a goal controversially ruled out for the Dutch, while Antoine Griezmann missed two excellent chances for France. The draw leaves both teams level on four points at the top of Group D of Euro 2024, one point ahead of Austria, who defeated Poland 3-1 earlier on Friday.

In the final group matches on Tuesday, France will face Poland, while the Netherlands will take on Austria. France had won both qualifying meetings against the Netherlands, with Mbappe scoring four of France’s six goals in those encounters.

“We are talking about one of the best players in the world, so of course that is different for both teams,” said Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman, acknowledging the advantage of not facing the Real Madrid forward.

France coach Didier Deschamps suggested that his decision to leave Mbappe out might have been different if the match had been a knockout game, but he did not want to risk his captain with qualification for the next round almost secured.

“With each day he’s getting better, and if it had been a decisive game this evening, I would have thought twice about him playing or not,” said Deschamps.

“We are getting to a point that is better for him. After what happened, I thought the wiser decision was to keep him on the bench.”

The Dutch, backed by a vocal orange-clad majority at Leipzig Stadium, nearly capitalised on French uncertainty within the first minute. Jeremie Frimpong’s explosive pace got him clear on goal, but his shot was turned behind by French goalkeeper Mike Maignan.