an ideal first for captain Mbappé against the Netherlands

Newly promoted to France captain, Kylian Mbappé was the main architect of Friday’s near-perfect night against the Netherlands (4-0).

Two goals and an assist at the end of an easy win without a hole at home. Kylian Mbappé could not have dreamed of a better start to his reign. For his first time with the captain’s armband in the French team, which his predecessor Hugo Lloris wore for eleven years, he largely participated in the correction inflicted on the Netherlands at the start of the Euro 2024 qualifiers (4-0), Friday 24 March.

While he could have been content with killing the game early in the first period, the Paris Saint-Germain forward was keen to add one last note. His two devastating feints, which put the entire opposing defense at bay, reminded us how much the pressure hadn’t taken him. On Friday, like every other game night, his name was shouted louder than everyone else’s. Phones, eyes and cameras were trained on him as he entered the warm-up. Without really upsetting his routine, Kylian Mbappé has sent some subtle signals to show his change of status.

“I try to bring the team with me”

For example, he took the lead in the warm-up row, where he used to hang at the back of the class, and we saw him pick Antoine Griezmann as his warm-up partner. Another communication operation, after the press conference the day before, to definitively put out the embers of a potential controversy, a few days after the revelation of “Grizou’s disappointment” in having to settle for the position of vice-captain.

If there was still any doubt at the time of kick-off, the latter flew away after just one minute and 55 seconds of play, when Kylian Mbappé offered Griezmann the advantage, precisely. The two men embraced, without the slightest restraint, which didn’t surprise Didier Deschamps at the post-match press conference: “Between what is said and reality… They are two players who get along very well and work very well together. Antoine’s disappointment lasted two minutes. There is not the slightest problem with Kylian, or with everything the group”.

Against the Netherlands there wasn’t the slightest negative note in the new captain’s performance, nor in his contribution on the pitch, nor in the attitude among his teammates. He avoided the trap of absolutely wanting to make a difference on his own, which earned him some criticism after the group stage at the World Cup. More involved than usual in the defensive phases, Mbappé also showed a conciliatory face, such as when he encouraged Khephren Thuram after the latter had chosen shooting rather than passing right at the end of the game (90° + 2).

“I continue to do my job, help the team and be decisive by making a difference. But now I try to take the team with me. Today it worked but it’s only the beginning. We mustn’t get on fire, the hardest part remains being done”the interested party reacted to TF1’s microphones after the match that saw him overtake Karim Benzema to become the fifth top scorer in the history of the Blues (38 goals) at just 24 years of age.

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