Kylian Mbappe started off as new France captain on the best foot. He scored two goals and assisted one as France beat Netherlands 4-0.
Despite rumors that Atletico Madrid player Antione Griezmann was dissatisfied after Mbappe was named captain, Mbappe rejoiced with his teammates including Griezmann.
Recall that reports had it that Griezmann was unhappy as Mbappe was named captain ahead of him, but it seemed like it was just rumor as both of them were as cool as ever in the match.
Mbappe however cleared the air regarding the captaincy issue, he said: “I spoke with Antoine because he was disappointed not to be captain.”
“That makes sense. It is an acceptable reaction. He spent more than 10 years in the French Team. He’s the most important player of the Deschamps era. I am not his hierarchical superior.”
“He has an experience that I don’t have. This is someone who is valued and loved by the whole group. We’re going to be him and I, hand in hand to try to make the France team shine at the world level.”
“We be side by side, and if he has something to say to the group, even I sit down and just listen.”
Hugo Lloris was replaced as the longtime captain of France by Kylian Mbappe, and the new era got off to a flying start as the superstar of Paris Saint-Germain set up the pink-haired Antoine Griezmann to score within the first two minutes.
The second goal was scored by Dayot Upamecano in the eighth minute, and Mbappe added his name to the score sheet to make it 3-0 before the halfway point of the first half.
Two minutes before Memphis Depay of the Netherlands had his stoppage-time penalty saved by goalie Mike Maignan, Mbappe decisively sealed the victory.
The French team, led by Didier Deschamps, displayed merciless efficiency over the Dutch team, who was missing several important players due to an illness that spread throughout their roster.
They can at least comfort themselves by knowing that their next match is Monday’s encounter against Gibraltar at home, which was their least toughest assignment in qualifying from Group B.
The French team will then play the Republic of Ireland in Dublin, but considering that the top two teams from each group advance, it will take an extraordinary event for them to fail to qualify for the Euros in 2024.
France had not played since being defeated by Argentina in the World Cup final on penalties little over three months prior.
Lloris and center-back Raphael Varane retired; they were honored on the Stadium de France field prior to kickoff; Ousmane Dembele was out injured; and Olivier Giroud started on the bench. As a result, Deschamps’ team made four changes from that contest.
Maignan from AC Milan started in goal while Ibrahima Konate from Liverpool took over in the center of defense. Kingsley Coman and Randal Kolo Muani, two players who came off the bench in the Doha final, also started the match.
For a variety of reasons, the Netherlands, led by Ronald Koeman, were without Cody Gakpo, Matthijs de Ligt, Sven Botman, Denzel Dumfries, and Frenkie de Jong.
They were completely defeated 4-0 by France in a stunning opening.
Since assuming the armband, Mbappe has pledged to play a unifying role for his nation, however he also acknowledged Griezmann’s disappointment at being passed over by Deschamps for the captaincy.
Kylian Mbappe typically shaped to shoot toward the far corner when he received the ball on the left side of the area.
It was telling that he didn’t in the second minute, instead to play a square pass for the advancing Griezmann to finish on the first attempt.
The second was then set up by Griezmann, who was once again playing in the midfield position that he so expertly mastered at the World Cup.
The Bayern Munich defender Upamecano had an easy finish after Dutch goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen mishandled his whipped free-kick from the right.
The third goal had a touch of true polish to it because Kolo Muani absolutely ignored Aurelien Tchouameni’s through ball, which confused the Netherlands’ defense and allowed Mbappe to get past the goalkeeper.
With just 30% of the control and a 3-0 lead, Koeman substituted Wout Weghorst of Manchester United for Ajax midfielder Kenneth Taylor just before halftime.
Before halftime, only a superb Cillessen save on a Konate header kept France from adding another goal, and substitute Moussa Diaby later had a goal disallowed.
But two minutes from time, Mbappe put the game away by pouncing on a loose ball and sending a shot through Jurrien Timber’s legs and into the bottom corner.