Kylian Mbappe: What went wrong for France captain at Euro 2024?

  • Kylian Mbappe and France were eliminated from Euro 2024 by Spain in semi-finals
  • Les Bleus captain only scored one penalty in five games
  • Mbappe was hampered by a broken nose and face mask
Mbappe had a poor Euro 2024
Mbappe had a poor Euro 2024 / ANP/GettyImages

Euro 2024 was supposed to be another international stage for Kylian Mbappe to flex his muscles and power France to a piece of major silverware. However, their dreams were shattered by a dominant Spain in the semi-finals on Tuesday night.

Les Bleus were dogged by criticism of their playing style under Didier Deschamps throughout the tournament, only scoring their first goal from open play in the final-four defeat to La Roja.

While Mbappe has enjoyed two successful World Cups in his career so far, his efforts at the two European Championships he has participated in have both resulted in disappointment, managing only one goal from nine appearances in total at UEFA's flagship international tournament.

So where did it go wrong for the new Real Madrid forward this year?

The busted nose...

France v Austria - EURO 2024
Mbappe suffered a nasty nose injury / Anadolu/GettyImages

France were far from impressive in their first Group D match against Austria, getting over the line thanks to a 38th-minute own goal from Max Wober.

Mbappe was largely subdued during the encounter, hitting the target with only one of his four shots, and suffered a major injury blow when he collided with Kevin Danso. France later confirmed he had broken his nose.

The injury saw the 25-year-old miss the next group game against the Netherlands. It ended goalless, but when Mbappe next emerged he was far from comfortable...

...and the face mask

Kylian Mbappe
Mbappe wasn't a fan of his mask / BSR Agency/GettyImages

Plenty of professional footballers have been forced into wearing face masks due to awkward injuries.

Stars like Victor Osimhen, Son Heung-min, Harry Kane, Josko Gvardiol and Robert Lewandowski have all sported protective equipment in recent years with varying degrees of discomfort, but Mbappe made no secret of his distaste of the appliance.

He said: "As soon as I can take it off, I'm going to take it off. Now I have no choice, I'm not going to play without it. It's annoying. You saw that I changed five times but there weren't all the photos, I changed more than that. My competition is going to be like that and it won't be an excuse because I can only play like that, I have to say thank you to the mask."

Manager Deschamps had previously revealed: "Despite everything he has gone through, a week after the blow, it was complicated. I thought he was quite good on his feet with the mask. He needed to get used to it. But when he sweats, that sticks in his eyes and he needed to wipe his eyes.

"He's hungry to play and the game would have done him some good, especially given what we're going to be doing [next]."

Lack of creative midfielders behind him

Jeremy Doku, Adrien Rabiot, Ngolo Kante
France's midfielders were too similar during Euro 2024 / Richard Sellers/Allstar/GettyImages

Functionality and pragmatism is very much the name of the game in international football. The best national teams often show their class by grinding their way through the group and knockout stages, so having a little bit of grit and stability in midfield is undeniably crucial.

However, there's little doubt that Deschamps went too far in trying to ensure his defence was adequately protected.

Antoine Griezmann was poor by his own high standards but when he was dropped for the semi-final against Spain, Deschamps decided to field a midfield three of N'Golo Kante, Aurelien Tchoaumeni and Adrien Rabiot, none of whom are particularly well renowned for their creativity.

They weren't able to play the sprawling passes Mbappe, who has expressed regret at not being able to play with Paul Pogba, loves to gallop onto, taking away a major part of his attacking arsenal.

His own woeful finishing

Kylian Mbappe
Mbappe had a poor tournament by his own admission / Markus Gilliar - GES Sportfoto/GettyImages

However, Mbappe can't purely blame a lack of midfield adventure for his lack of goals at Euro 2024.

He ended the tournament with one penalty to his name but couldn't take any other of his chances, underperforming his total xG for the tournament (2.9) by 1.9. It's hardly a massive swing but the statistics do show just how errant he was in front of goal.