4 things we learned from France's win over Austria: Mbappe's replacement, Kante's resurgence & more

  • France beat Austria 1-0 in their opening Euro 2024 game
  • An own goal was the difference between the two sides
  • Kylian Mbappe broke his nose in the win
Les Bleus began with a win
Les Bleus began with a win / Jean Catuffe/Getty Images, Franco Arland/Getty Images, Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

It wasn't the prettiest of performances, but France managed to kick start their Euro 2024 campaign with a 1-0 win over a spirited Austria side on Monday.

The solitary goal came courtesy of Austria's Maximilian Wober, who headed a Kylian Mbappe cross into his own net on the stroke of half-time.

So what did we learn from Les Bleus' nervy win? And what did the game tell us about their chances of going all the way and winning Euro 2024?

Kylian Mbappe's injury worries

Kylian Mbappe
A sore one / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

The slow motion replays of Mbappe's face connecting with Kevin Danso's shoulder made the whole of Europe collectively wince. And judging by the fact that his nose was contorted in 20 different directions afterwards, it's no surprise that the France captain suffered a broken nose during the incident.

Despite the gruesome nature of the injury, and copious amount of blood which burst out of the forward's nose, the French FA have confirmed that Mbappe won't require surgery, meaning he will not be ruled out the remainder of Euro 2024, though is still expected to miss their next game against the Netherlands.

Mbappe will wear a mask when he does return to action, and is already asking for suggestions on designs.

Olivier Giroud needs to start

Olivier Giroud
Time to start the big man? / Marvin Ibo Guengoer - GES Sportfoto/GettyImages

In ideal world, France don't have to rely upon a now 37-year-old Olivier Giroud to knit together their attacking lineup.

But judging on the performance against Austria, we don't live in an ideal world and France need to start Giroud up front.

The towering forward has long been the man that's made everything come together in the final third for Les Bleus, allowing Mbappe to race infield to latch onto his knock downs, or hold up play to get Antoine Griezmann involved.

Without Giroud against Austria, and with a mobile front three of Marcus Thuram, Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele, France clearly missed having a player who can drop in from the forward line, receive the ball, and allow his team have enjoy sustained periods of pressure - something that they didn't really do last night.

Giroud is the only player in this France squad that can perform that role, so Didier Deschamps simply has to start him moving forward, particularly if they don't have the individual brilliance of Mbappe to depend on next time.

N'Golo Kante is back to his best

N'Golo Kante
Top class performance / Marvin Ibo Guengoer - GES Sportfoto/GettyImages

To be perfectly honest, we were quite surprised by the fact that N'Golo Kante was still a footballer, never mind one that's still this good.

The holding midfielder has been out-of-sight and out-of-mind since moving to the Saudi Pro League, so we weren't too sure what to expect from the now 33-year-old on Monday night when his named appeared on the France teamsheet.

What we got was vintage Kante.

The World Cup winner rolled back the years to provide an impenetrable wall in front of the France defence against Austria, recovering possession for his side an impressive seven times in the win.

Someone queue up the 'Kante covers 80% of the world' memes again. He's back in business.

Is Dayot Upamecano - William Saliba France's best centre-back partnership?

William Saliba
A few nervy moments / Eurasia Sport Images/GettyImages

Les Bleus kept a clean sheet in the win over Austria, but that was perhaps more down to Kante than it was to their new-look defensive partnership.

In truth, William Saliba and Dayot Upamecano looked a nervy at times in Dusseldorf, with a few mis-hit clearances putting France under undue pressure on a few occasions.

A much more assured performance will be needed against the Netherlands in their second game, especially with Ibrahima Konate and Benjamin Pavard waiting in the wings.