Mbappé moving in ‘right direction’ for France return against Netherlands

<span><a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Kylian Mbappé;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Kylian Mbappé</a> wore a custom-made mask at training before <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:France;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">France</a>’s match with the <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Netherlands;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Netherlands</a> on Friday.</span><span>Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images</span>

Didier Deschamps has suggested Kylian Mbappé could feature against the Netherlands on Friday, in a surprise turn of events after the France captain suffered a broken nose against Austria on Monday. Mbappé has not required surgery and while doubts remain over his involvement in the rest of the group stage, Deschamps insists “everything is going in the right direction”.

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The France manager confirmed a custom-made mask will be fitted so that Mbappé can return but it is unclear if he will risk his captain. Mbappe was limited to non-contact exercises at training on Wednesday but trained again on Thursday before France’s meeting with the Netherlands in Leipzig. The Real Madrid forward wore a mask in his country’s tricolour colours and emblazoned with his initials.

“I can confirm that Kylian is feeling better,” Deschamps said at his pre-match press conference. “Everything is going in the right direction after this major shock he had, with the consequences, of course. Yesterday [Wednesday] he was able to go out and do some activities. It is the same case tonight [Thursday]. It has evolved in the right direction to ensure that he can be available tomorrow.”

Asked whether Mbappé would wear a mask, Deschamps replied: “Kylian will be wearing a mask, yes, we don’t really need to know the details about this mask … I think you have enough moles to find out where the mask is coming from anyway.”

Much of the discourse surrounding the France team has centred on the upcoming political vote after the president, Emmanuel Macron, called a snap election, with several players, including Mbappé, asked for their opinions, but Deschamps insists it has not been a distraction.

“Before the first game [against Austria], at the first press conference seven and a half of the eight questions were not about football,” he said. “Maybe people are trying to use this, use Kylian to drive debate. It is not creating disruption in the group. Things are happening as best as they possibly can. Kylian is with the team. Within the group we are calm.”

Antoine Griezmann, who could captain France in the absence of Mbappé, said it was important not to compare the 25-year-old with other decorated players. “I think Kylian is living his own career, what Cristiano [Ronaldo] is doing is unprecedented but you need to see them as two separate people and stop trying to compare different players, even Leo [Messi] as well,” Griezmann said. “Everybody has their own style of play, their own place in history.”


Asked about Mbappé’s condition, Griezmann said he is improving. “Kylian is doing well, the swelling has gone down on his nose,” the 33-year-old said. “We’ll see in the last minutes how he is feeling. We are in the competition now and we are ready to continue. We want to win the trophy.”

Griezmann added: “Having one of the best players in the world on the pitch or not definitely changes things. We will see how it goes but we always have to adapt to each match and that is what I love to do. It doesn’t matter what the tactical choices are, we always have to adapt. That is what makes us stronger. We know it’s going to be a physical game. We have to make sure we turn up.”

Meanwhile, the Netherlands could welcome back the Ajax striker Brian Brobbey, who missed their opening-round victory over Poland. Ronald Koeman must decide whether to promote Burnley’s Wout Weghorst to his starting lineup after his late winner in Hamburg. Weghorst could replace Memphis Depay.

France have won seven of their past eight meetings with the Netherlands. “Maybe I’ve just been lucky,” Deschamps said, smiling. “Our first objective is to create issues for them on the pitch and then to limit their offensive play. We expect to have the ball more than the opponent – that is what we hope – and we have to make them suffer as well, that’s my objective.”