Mbappé ‘getting better every day’ and wants to play against Poland at Euro 2024, France coach says

DORTMUND, Germany (AP) — France superstar Kylian Mbappé appears closer to making a return at the European Championship.

The Real Madrid-bound striker sustained a broken nose in France’s opening 1-0 win over Austria and didn’t come off the bench for the 0-0 draw with the Netherlands on Friday.

France coach Didier Deschamps didn’t give much away on Monday when pressed if Mbappé was available for the Group D closer against Poland on Tuesday, when he would have to wear a protective mask. The French are already sure of a place in the round of 16 after Albania’s loss to Spain on Monday, but can finish anywhere from first to third in their group.

“He’s getting better every day — yesterday, he was in our training session, the bruise has actually gone down and he’s getting used to playing in a mask,” Deschamps said of Mbappé, before adding with a smile: “He wants to play, he’s raring to go. He wanted to play against the Netherlands and wants to play tomorrow against Poland.”

Without referring to anyone specifically, Deschamps said he hadn’t yet “got the go-ahead from the medical team” when it came to selecting his starting lineup for the match at Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion.

“I need to chat with different players, let’s say,” Deschamps said, smiling again.

A bigger clue was perhaps given by one of Mbappé’s teammates.

“We all know what Kylian’s qualities are,” midfielder N’Golo Kante said. “The reasons we weren’t able to hit the back of the net maybe was a lack of efficiency and maybe the fact that Kylian will be here tomorrow will help us score goals and win the game.

“It is a huge advantage to have him on the team.”

Kante said Mbappé was “great, decisive and dangerous” in practice on Sunday.

“I think he feels well,” Kante added, “and I hope this translates on the pitch tomorrow.”

Mbappé wore a mask on Saturday when he played in a behind-closed-doors match against a local team from Paderborn, the German city where the France squad is based. He has worn the mask each day in training, too.

Deschamps said the mask is limiting Mbappé’s vision but wouldn’t describe it as a “constraint.”

“Breathing, no; the way he sees, yes,” Deschamps said.

Deschamps added it wouldn’t impact on where Mbappé might play in the team.

“Contact will be contact, regardless of where you play,” he said. “Whenever you got those one-on-ones, it’s about his field of vision. But everything depends on the situations and where he is positioned. But it’s not huge. We’re talking about a tenth of a second — for Kylian, a tenth of a second is 30 meters!

“Yes, it’s maybe hindering (him) but it’s something he will get used to.”

Poland captain Robert Lewandowski said things might not come easy for Mbappé, as he’s worn a protective mask himself after breaking his cheekbone and nose while playing for Bayern Munich in 2015.

“It’s nothing nice,” he said. “It’s tough, especially for strikers to move around in the penalty box.

“I remember well that I had problems reacting and seeing the ball and opponents these few milliseconds (slower) than I would normally do. It was slowing me down. It was a tough challenge. It’s not very pleasant but of course the health is most important.”


AP Euro 2024:

Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up