EURO 2024: France's shaky victory against Rangnick

Kylian Mbappé had long since disappeared into the dressing room with a bleeding nose when the French had just about mastered the tricky feat of strength against Ralf Rangnick’s Austrians.

But there are big concerns about the title contender’s superstar and captain, and Mbappé may even have broken his nose in the 1-0 (1-0) match. “I don’t know anything specific about Mbappé yet. That’s the darkest part of the evening,” said France’s national coach Didier Deschamps.

The vice world champions had to give it their all in a physical match, and Antoine Griezmann also suffered a laceration on his head. So much for not focusing on the European Championship! France can also fight, but they were also lucky. An own goal by Gladbach’s Maximilian Wöber (38th minute) gave the French, who were accompanied by a political debate about the shift to the right at home, an important opening victory.

But the Equipe Tricolore is worried about its leader. Mbappé sustained the injury shortly before the end in a tackle when he hit Kevin Danso’s shoulder with full force with his nose during a header attempt. Mbappé had to be substituted as a result. “It looks as if his nose is broken. That’s obviously annoying,” said Michael Ballack as an expert on MagentaTV.

Political debate determined the preparation

“I’m relieved, but also satisfied with the way my boys played. We could have made the breakthrough earlier. My team played well as a team. Sometimes we lacked a bit of precision,” added Deschamps.

Thanks to the victory, the 1984 and 2000 European champions are not under the great pressure they feared before Friday’s heated duel with the Netherlands. The preparation for the match was overshadowed by the debate about the new elections in France. On Sunday, Mbappé described the situation at home after the shift to the right in the European elections as an “important moment in the history” of France. There are things that are “far more important” than the match on Monday. This raised doubts as to whether the vice-world champions would take the start of the European Championship and the tournament as such seriously.

But the political debate announced by captain Mbappé did not take place before the game and the favorites started with a lot of momentum. The top stars repeatedly showed off their immense speed and class. The bold Austrians, who were considered dark horses, are still confident despite the defeat. “We had our moments, but we didn’t finish it cleanly. The performance was decent. It was the first game, we have two more. Now we have to win the game on Friday,” said Bayern’s Konrad Laimer.

Baumgartner had the lead on his feet

It was only during the first half that the ÖFB team found ways to pose a threat to France, but it wasn’t until the 37th minute that they had their first chance. And what a chance it was! Captain Marcel Sabitzer, who became Austria’s record player at European Championships with his eighth European Championship appearance, passed to Christoph Baumgartner. The Leipzig player was suddenly completely free in front of the rushing Mike Maignan and the French keeper from former champions AC Milan brilliantly cleared the ball for a corner, which referee Jesús Gil Manzano from Spain did not award for some unknown reason.

This blatant mistake had consequences. Shortly afterwards, Gladbach’s Wöber nodded a Mbappé cross into his own net in an extremely unfortunate manner. The Équipe Tricolore deserved to take the lead at half-time, but they kept the increasingly passionate Austrians in the game. This was also down to the French superstar himself. Ten minutes after the restart, the lightning-fast Mbappé first ran away from former Fortuna professional Kevin Danso at his old stomping ground and then also from Wöber, but he blasted the ball rather unassumingly wide of the goal.

The extremely unlucky Wöber was relieved shortly afterwards by Rangnick and replaced by Gernot Trauner from Feyenoord Rotterdam. With a total of three substitutions after an hour of play, the ÖFB team boss tried to make a statement once again. The injured David Alaba from Real Madrid – who was only on the bench at the European Championships – also brought no luck. “Of course I would help the team on the pitch. It hurts a little. But of course I also want to help the team in the role that I have played for years,” said Alaba on ARD.

Unlucky Austrians

Especially since the 65-year-old Rangnick, despite all his coaching experience, was breaking new ground in Düsseldorf. “It’s my first European Championship and my first time at a tournament with the national team. And there’s always something special about a start like this. That’s why it’s really something special,” said the long-time Bundesliga coach on MagentaTV. His team did bring the energy he had hoped for onto the field as the game went on. But Austria remained unlucky and the gap in performance within the team proved to be too great on Monday.

But it was a hard-fought victory for France. First Griezmann suffered a cut on his head after a check from Wöber, then Mbappé was hit. To make matters worse, the star striker was shown a yellow card after the referee refused to allow the French to make substitutions. Mbappé returned to the field and immediately fell to the ground.

By Editor

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