France-Croatia: Kylian Mbappé, not all caps are heroes

This time, Kylian Mbappé could not put on the savior costume to avoid defeat for the France team against Croatia. An observation that reminds us that the Parisian striker deserves better than a messiah label within failing collectives and that he will need to be better surrounded to achieve the great things he wishes to accomplish.

By Clément Gavard, at the Stade de France
tuesday june 14 Modified Tuesday, June 14 at 12:51 a.m.

Few of them can boast of causing tremors in a stadium with each ball touched, each potential acceleration, and Kylian Mbappé is part of this very closed circle. The Stade de France public had no tricolor goal to put in their mouths on Monday evening, but they always hoped that the darling of the capital and the country would be the one who unlocked everything, like last Friday in Austria. Decreased since his early exit against Denmark due to a sore left knee, the number 10 of the Blues said he was ready to pull the rope one last time this season at the end of the draw brought back from Vienna: “I’m not 100%, but if the coach needs me, it’s almost the holidays so I can force a little bit. » The world champion may have had to force a lot against Croatia, playing the entire match, without shining or saving anyone, even if everyone, in the stands and on the field, seemed to expect a new exploit from Mbappé . Which is good news neither for the Blues nor for the striker.

Mbappé in search of a collective

The 55e and last game of Kylian Mbappé’s busy season was not his best. The Parisian showed a lot of good will to try to break the lock on an ultra-disciplined Croatian defense, just as he made himself very available to his teammates (72 balls touched, 30 more than Karim Benzema and 20 more than Christopher Nkunku, released twenty minutes from time). But that’s not enough, especially when the player in question is called Mbappé and his talent has few equals on the football planet today. The striker had waste, probably too much (6 shots attempted, 5 successful dribbles out of 10 and 75% of correct passes), and never managed to combine with his two attacking friends, Benzema and Nkunku, not confirming the love at first sight glimpsed in Austria with the second. More worryingly, the relationship with the first, the other star of the group since his return last spring, has not worked as well as in the fall. The crux of the problem may lie here: in the immense hopes based on the Benzema-Mbappé association.

At the start of the rally, captain Hugo Lloris had repeated that the Blues could not “not just relying on (their) offensive talent” . Lately, this French team has sometimes left the impression that it was counting a little too much on the individual exploits of its two attackers. This can be understood, when one of them is on the way to winning the Ballon d’Or as a reward for an exceptional year, and the other broke a new hexagonal record in the XXIe century by completing a season by being involved in 75 club and selection goals (49 goals, 26 assists). In Austria, Mbappé had rejected the qualification of savior at the microphone of TF1, it turns out that it would be a mistake to consider him as such within a group so talented that he has no right to rely on a single player. Mbappé is not the providential man of the France team, and he should not be. For the good of the Blues, first, then for his own. In selection, he has never been so annoying and not very brilliant as when he agreed to put on the hero’s cape, even if it means locking himself up in his individual delusions or wanting to take a free kick, like this evening at the 78e minute, when he never reigned in this exercise. To evolve and win the competitions intended to garnish the prize list of a very great, Mbappé will need this role, both flattering and ungrateful, of messiah freeing failing collectives, in this case those of Paris Saint-Germain and France.

By Clément Gavard, at the Stade de France

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