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France vs Netherlands: 5 Talking Points, UEFA Nations League 2018/19

Robin Bairner
Modified 20 Dec 2019, 17:41 IST

World Cup winners France made a happy homecoming in Paris on Sunday, defeating the Netherlands 2-1 thanks to goals from Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud.

It was not a straightforward encounter for the world champions, though, as Ryan Babel surprisingly got the guests back on terms during the second half.

However, the individual and team quality of Didier Deschamps’ men shone through in the end as they moved to the top of League A Group 1.

#1 Kylian Mbappe is already France’s go-to man

France v Croatia - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Final
France v Croatia - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Final

Kylian Mbappe had the honour of scoring the world champions’ first goal after lifting the trophy at Russia 2018 – but perhaps that should have come as little shock given his double in the 4-2 win over Croatia in Moscow. His strike on Sunday was an altogether more straightforward affair, tapping home from close range after good work from Blaise Matuidi.

Once again, it was an elite display from the teenager, whose performances continue to make him a leading contender for the Ballon d’Or. He had it all in this game, cheeky flicks to bamboozle opponents, the blistering turn of pace that has become such a trademark, and of course the wherewithal to get into goal scoring positions, despite playing out on the flank.

His goal was a case in point, timing his run perfectly into the box to steer him from close range.

In the second half, when France were sitting back, he was the perfect outlet to launch counterattacks and on several occasions nearly added to his personal tally or helped others have chances to open theirs. And when Les Bleus needed a goal after being pegged back, he was the player that they primarily sought for their inspiration.

Already, he has become France’s go-to player, more so than more experienced stars like Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba.

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Published 10 Sep 2018, 02:50 IST
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