France win Euro 2024 opener


France, considered one of the frontrunners for the Euro 2024 title, kicked off their campaign with a less-than-convincing 1-0 win against a spirited Austria in Düsseldorf. The match, overshadowed by pre-tournament discussions of French politics, saw Kylian Mbappe endure a mixed performance, scoring the winning goal indirectly but also missing several key chances and sustaining a late injury.

The win puts France level on points with the Netherlands in Group D, after the Dutch edged out Poland 2-1 the previous day. However, Didier Deschamps’ men will need to improve significantly if they are to live up to their championship aspirations.

Austria Push France

Austria, under the guidance of German coach Ralf Rangnick, surprised many with their aggressive pressing game, making life difficult for the 2022 World Cup runners-up. The Austrians, boasting eight Bundesliga players in their starting lineup, displayed impressive organization and nearly snatched the lead themselves.

Skipper Marcel Sabitzer set up a golden opportunity for Christoph Baumgartner midway through the first half, but France’s goalkeeper Mike Maignan made a crucial save. This miss proved costly as France took the lead just two minutes later.

Mbappe Gets Lucky, Squanders Chances

Ousmane Dembele found Mbappe in space on the right, and the French captain used a stepover to get past his defender. His intended cross, however, took a wicked deflection off Austrian defender Maximilian Woeber, looping into the far corner for an own goal.

Mbappe had a chance to double the lead before the break but was again denied by Pentz. The second half started in similar fashion, with Mbappe blazing a clear-cut opportunity wide after being played in by Adrien Rabiot. This miss kept Austria in the game, and they continued to threaten an equalizer.

Mbappe Injury and Time-Wasting Controversy

Late in the match, Mbappe collided with Kevin Danso in the penalty box and needed treatment for a bloodied nose. His actions after the incident caused some controversy. He initially came back on but then went down again, drawing a yellow card for time-wasting before being replaced by Olivier Giroud.

Looking Ahead

Despite the unconvincing win, France will be relieved to have secured three points. They now face a crucial clash against the Netherlands on Friday, while Austria take on Poland earlier the same day. Both teams will need to improve their performance if they are to progress further in the tournament.

This match highlighted the talent gap between the two squads, with France boasting the likes of Mbappe and Griezmann. However, Austria’s tactical approach and never-say-die attitude exposed some weaknesses in the French team. Deschamps will need to find a way to get Mbappe firing on all cylinders and ensure his team is more clinical in front of goal if they are to challenge for the Euro 2024 title.

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By- Sahiba Suri

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