Thursday, June 1, 2023

France 4-0 Netherlands: What Did We Learn As Kylian Mbappe Inspires Les Bleus To A Major Qualifying Statement In Paris?

Tom Dunstan in Editorial, European Championships 25 Mar 2023

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Opening their European qualifying marker with a major statement on Friday night, France cruised their way to a 4-0 romp against the Netherlands in Paris.

While Les Bleus might have suffered World Cup final heartbreak out in Qatar over the winter, Didier Deschamps’ men certainly laid down what could be a crucial marker on home soil.

Opening the scoring after just two minutes as Antoine Griezmann got France off to a flying start, the former European champions really couldn’t have wished for a better display here.

Storming their way to a 3-0 half-time lead as Kylian Mbappe and Dayot Upamecano helped Deschamps’ side make a real statement, it was their new skipper who will certainly steal most of the headlines.

With Mbappe eventually leaving Paris with yet another international brace to his name, there is no doubt that France’s performance on Friday night would have been heard around Europe.

Not really having to get out of third gear, France would have been expecting more from a Dutch squad who gained a string of plaudits following on from their World Cup adventure.

In what was a real showdown between two European heavyweights, what did we learn from Les Bleus’ Group B romp in Paris?

Deschamps silences his critics

Left heartbroken in the Middle East a few months ago as they were forced to watch Argentina lift a first world crown since 1980, many were wondering how France would respond on Friday night.

Coming agonisingly close to being crowned back-to-back world champions and writing themselves into the history books, some felt that it was time for Deschamps to step aside.

However, with the French Football Federation making it clear over the winter that they felt Deschamps was still the man to take Les Bleus forward, the 54-year-old couldn’t have dreamed of a more perfect response here.

With the FFF doubling down on their approach and rewarding Deschamps with a new contract back in January, France have certainly proven that they are still one of world football’s greatest powerhouses.

Showing no signs of a post-World Cup hangover here and opening 2023 with what was a famous display in Paris, it won’t be a surprise to many that the European icons are tipped as a runaway pick to claim top-spot in Group B.

Now not tasting a single qualifying defeat on home soil since way back in 2010, France will look to make another statement on Monday night when they travel to Dublin.

The Mbappe reign is off to a flying start

With it announced over the festive period that Hugo Loris would be retiring from international football, France certainly hosted a string of viable options who were all waiting to snap up Les Bleus’ captain’s armband.

However, while some might have questioned whether it had come too early for Mbappe to take over full-time responsibilities, the PSG superstar opened his reign with another stellar display on Friday night.

Putting in a Man of the Match display and leaving Paris with yet another international brace to his name, the 24-year-old has proven why he is ready to be the man to spearhead Deschamps’ new era.

Although Mbappe might have failed to drag Les Bleus to a second consecutive world crown out in the Middle East, the ex-Monaco starlet did make more World Cup history.

Becoming just the second player in history to bag a World Cup final hat-trick, Mbappe appears to be relishing the early tenure of his reign as France’s new skipper.

Mustering 19 domestic strikes this season and sitting level with Lille’s Jonathan David in the race for this year’s Ligue 1 Golden Boot, Mbappe has only underlined his status as the new poster boy of French football.

Koeman’s second tenure could be a short one

While the Netherlands might have been disappointed after only collecting a World Cup quarter-final ticket out in Qatar over the winter, Friday’s guests had gained a string of admirers.

However, while the European icons might have enjoyed a remarkable resurge under Louie van Gaal over recent times, many in their camp were left worried when the ex-Manchester United boss announced his retirement.

Making the shock call to reappoint Ronald Koeman and with the former Barcelona boss returning to the dugout back in January, Holland appear to have come crashing back down to earth in some style.

Although the Oranges might have traveled to Paris on Friday night potentially smelling the chance to cause a real qualifying upset, Koeman will know that he is already facing a huge amount of scrutiny.

Putting in what will be remembered as a nightmare first-half display here, their hammering in France is also the joint-worst defeat they have ever suffered at the hands of Les Blues.

While Holland might still have plenty of time to avoid another major qualifying collapse, Koeman knows that he will not have an abundance of time on his side.

Match Report

France: Maignan, Kounde, Konate, Upamecano, Hernandez, Tchouameni, Rabiot, Coman, Griezmann, Mbappe, Kolo Muani

Subs: Fofana, Giroud, Thuram, Diaby, Camavinga

Netherlands: Cillessen, Timber, Geertruida, Van Dijk, Ake, Taylor, De Roon, Wijnaldum, Simons, Depay, Berghuis

Subs: Blind, Malacia, Klaassen, Weghorst, Malen

Goals: Griezmann (2′), Upamecano (8′), Mbappe (21′, 88′)

Yellow Cards: France: Konate, Upamecano, Hernandez, Rabiot – Netherlands: Geertruida

Red Cards: N/A

Referee: Maurizio Mariani


Tom Dunstan

Formerly of The Independent, Tom has spent the past six years as one of our senior writers and betting experts. Alongside working with numerous publications from across the globe, Tom also graduated from the University of Falmouth in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Digital Media.
Spending almost the past decade working in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada, he has also spent time featuring in sports radio. Tom can be followed on Instagram - @iamtomdunstan



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