Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Mbappé’s availability concerns looms as France face Poland


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DORTMUND, June 24: Will he or won’t he? Kylian Mbappé’s availability for France remains the subject of much contention heading into the team’s Group D closer against already-eliminated Poland in the European Championship.
Mbappé 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, despite France coach Didier Deschamps having sounded optimistic his star forward could play while wearing a face mask. Mbappé has since featured in a behind-closed-doors match against a local team, so he might be ready to return.
France needs a point to guarantee a place in the round of 16 but probably has done enough already to advance, at least as one of the four best third-place finishers. The French are tied on four points with the Netherlands, with Austria a point back in third ahead of its match against the Dutch.
Poland lost its opening two games — to the Netherlands (2-1) and Austria (3-1) — and was the first team to be eliminated from this year’s tournament.
Poland captain Robert Lewandowski, who turns 36 in August, missed the game against the Dutch after failing to recover sufficiently from a thigh injury and was a 60th-minute substitute against Austria. This could be his last-ever European Championship match.
For France, much depends on Mbappé’s availability. Antoine Griezmann played further forward against the Netherlands in Mbappé’s absence, allowing Aurélien Tchouaméni to come in and bolster the central midfield. If Mbappé returns, Griezmann will likely drop back into midfield, with either Tchouaméni or Adrien Rabiot missing out.
“It’s no secret that he’s really looking forward to the next game, and as far as the mask is concerned, he’s starting to get used to it.” — Tchouaméni said about Mbappé.
Poland coach Michal Probierz has announced that Wojciech Szczęsny will be replaced as goalkeeper for the final group match, with Lukasz Skorupski or Marcin Bułka coming in. Szczęsny has already said he will be retiring from international football after the Euros. (AP)


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