Sweden 0-1 France: Five talking points as Kylian Mbappe's goal secures unconvincing win for Les Bleus | UEFA Nations League 2020/21

France huffed and puffed, but won all three points against Sweden
France huffed and puffed, but won all three points against Sweden

France toiled to a hard-fought 1-0 win against Sweden in Stockholm to start the new season of the UEFA Nations League by securing all three points.

Kylian Mbappe was the difference-maker on the night after the Paris Saint-Germain ace scored a wonderful solo effort in the 41st minute to seal his 14th international goal.

The match was low on goalmouth action as chances were at a premium, and the teams struggled to assert themselves offensively. There were only three shots on target from both sides combined, a reflection of the game's listless and languid nature.

Antoine Griezmann rounded off the sordid affair with an appalling penalty kick right at the death.

Without further ado, here are the major talking points from the Sweden-France match:

#1 Mbappe magic makes the difference

France's golden boy was at it again!
France's golden boy was at it again!

Kylian Mbappe has to be the best young player in the world right now. While he continues to pull up trees in his club career, the PSG starlet's importance to the France national team cannot be underestimated.

In what was his first appearance for Les Blues in more than a year (he missed five games last year due to injuries), Mbappe marked his return with a quality strike which eventually proved to be enough for the visitors.

After storming into the area on the right flank, he brilliantly whizzed past two of his markers before rifling home beyond Olsen from an acute angle.

There was, however, a bit of good fortune in the build-up as the ball appeared to bounce off the legs of both Mikael Lustig and Robin Quaison before his attempt.

Yet, the 21-year old's trickery, balance and eagerness cannot be denied. His overall performance may have left a lot to be desired but he made no mistake when an opportunity showed up. That's what separates him from the ordinary.

#2 Sweden amp up the pressure in the dying embers, but to no avail

Sweden woke up from their slumber too late as France sealed the win
Sweden woke up from their slumber too late as France sealed the win

Sweden tried their damnedest but struggled to hit the broadside of a banjo as they failed to conjure good chances. France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris wasn't tested enough, though he did make a vital intervention in the first half by rushing off his line to deny Berg from close range.

If that wasn't bad enough, the hosts went completely off the boil after the break. There was no real urgency in their play as they seemed to wait for an opportunity to show up rather than attempting to force one. In the final few minutes, however, they woke up from their slumber.

Suddenly, it was Sweden who were dominating the ball and showing real intent. Even though clear-cut opportunities were still hard to come, Emil Forsberg lashed a venomous shot that was brilliantly saved by Lloris, just minutes after seeing John Guidetti's effort sail narrowly wide.

Each missed the target deep into the stoppage time despite coming close as the Swedes attempted to find a smash-and-grab equaliser. It was, however, too little too late as France successfully weathered the storm to preserve the lead and eventually claim all the points.

#3 Dayot Upamecano redeems himself after a rocky first half

Dayot Upamecano's debut for France was not so straight-forward
Dayot Upamecano's debut for France was not so straight-forward

RB Leipzig's Dayot Upamecano earned his first cap with France on Saturday as he started in the new-look backline, with Didier Deschamps banishing his usual 4-2-3-1 set-up for an experimental 3-4-3. However, the night didn't start well for the youngster.

The centre-back went into the books in just the second minute for conceding a foul on Albin Ekdal, before giving away a free-kick in the 13th minute through another mistake as he hauled down Berg in haste.

The pressure of his senior debut was clearly getting on Upamecano's nerves as he lacked confidence on the ball and gave away possession cheaply. However, he returned from the break as a much better player.

For whatever reason, the 21-year-old looked more settled in the second half as his passes were more assured and accurate while his positioning was perfect too. He communicated well with the backline and was also sending across a few crosses forward to instigate an attack.

#4 Griezmann's woeful penalty summed up gutless night for French strikers

Both Giroud and Griezmann had a night to forget for France
Both Giroud and Griezmann had a night to forget for France

Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud have been at the heart of France's recent success, combining to terrific effect in the attacking vanguard and amassing plenty of goals.

The two stars were paired up again on Saturday to lead the line for France, but neither impressed. In fact, this was one of those rare occasions where both players had an absolute stinker.

Giroud was completely isolated upfront, devoid of service and uninterested in getting himself involved in the proceedings. He made only 38 touches in the match, the least amongst the French XI, while also failing to muster a single effort on target.

His counterpart, on the other hand, had initially dropped deep to get involved in creation but soon took up his natural position upfront, though he failed to cause any trouble for the Swedish defence. His last piece of action, however, perfectly summed up their woeful night.

Anthony Martial won a penalty in extra-time after being brought down inside the area by his Manchester United team-mate Victor Lindelof. Griezmann stepped up to take the spot-kick and vacuously blazed it into row Z.

#5 Back to the drawing board for Deschamps

France manager Didier Deschamps has plenty to reconsider and reflect upon
France manager Didier Deschamps has plenty to reconsider and reflect upon

France manager Didier Deschamps tried to experiment with the line-up a bit, and you can tell that he wasn't satisfied with the end product. His team toiled for large spells of the match and besides Mbappe's match-winning goal, there were little positives to be drawn from the night.

With both strikers having been extremely underwhelming, maybe he could try starting the in-form Wissam Ben Yedder in place of any one of them against Croatia.

Another question that arises is why Eduardo Camavinga was not subbed on. With N'Golo Kante having minimal impact, Deschamps could've given the highly-rated youngster some minutes towards the end but the Rennais star was instead left to watch from the sidelines.

Meanwhile, Anthony Martial was a bright counterpoint to France's sordid attack, even winning the penalty kick after embarking on an amazing solo run. Starting him might inject some much-needed energy and vigour into the vanguard in the next match.

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Edited by Rachel Syiemlieh
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