Didier Deschamps expects Kylian Mbappe to continue breaking France records but knows a Republic of Ireland generation inspired by teenage talisman Evan Ferguson pose a threat.
Les Bleus thrashed the Netherlands 4-0 in their opening Euro 2024 qualifier and will be confident of claiming another three points in Dublin on Monday.
New captain Mbappe hit a double against the Dutch, taking him to 38 international goals and fifth on France’s all-time scoring charts – just three shy of the great Michel Platini (41).
Mbappe has scored half of those in his last 16 outings, as many as in his first 51 games, Deschamps suggests there is no limit for the 24-year-old.
“It’s Kylian, he’s full of ambitions. When he reaches one, he has another to reach,” Deschamps said at a press conference.
“He reached and exceeded quite a few very early on. He has that in him. He has a driving role compared to the whole group.
“He will do everything to get there, he will need the others, but it’s Kylian.”
Safely landed in Dublin pic.twitter.com/s7BegHhmwp
— French Team (@FrenchTeam) March 26, 2023
France have won their last four qualifying matches, for both the World Cup and Euros, by an aggregate score of 16-0.
Les Bleus have not managed five qualifying victories without conceding since doing so between November 1981 and December 1984, but they face an Ireland side buoyed by a young prospect of their own.
Ferguson scored on his first international start in a 3-2 win over Latvia and could become the first Ireland player to net in consecutive appearances before turning 19.
The Brighton and Hove Albion striker has been a hot topic of discussion, with Deschamps acknowledging the danger the 18-year-old might offer.
“It goes back to [Euro] 2016. I remember that we were trailing 1-0 [in the round of 16 before winning 2-1] and that it was complicated,” Deschamps said.
“But there is a new generation with Ferguson. It is always very difficult to compare.”
Some great moments for this young Irish team
Focus: Monday pic.twitter.com/0kTD0hy2qs
— Ireland Football (@IrelandFootball) March 23, 2023
Ireland have lost just three of their last 30 Euros qualifying games (W14 D13) and are unbeaten in their last 14 on home soil (W8 D6), including play-off fixtures.
That strong home form is a factor Deschamps knows France must deal with.
He continued: “They are a technical team. From what I have seen, they use less direct play and long balls. It will be a different game, with the crowd pushing as well.
“It’s a high level and it’s up to us to do no less.”
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