Kylian Mbappé is enduring a tough Euro 2024

HAMBURG, Germany — He has a broken nose that requires him to wear a vision-limiting face mask. He is managing fitness issues stemming from the end of the club season. He has scored only one goal — from the penalty spot. 

The European Championship is hardly going as planned for Kylian Mbappé, and he knows it. 

“These are the vagaries of the footballer,” the France captain said after his latest below-par par performance at Euro 2024. 

He doesn’t really care, though, as long as he is lifting the Henri Delaunay Cup in Berlin on July 14. 

Mbappé was so fatigued, so knocked out of his stride after a couple of bashes to his protective mask, that he asked to come off at halftime of extra time against Portugal in the quarterfinals in Hamburg on Friday. 

It meant giving up a likely penalty in the impending shootout — which France won 5-3 because of Joao Felix’s miss — but Mbappé simply couldn’t continue. 

France coach Didier Deschamps confirmed his captain asked to be replaced, for the good of the team. 

“He is always very honest with me and the team. When he feels he doesn’t have the capacity to accelerate then we can’t risk it, even a player like Kylian,” Deschamps said. 

“With all that has happened to him — the issues he has had, the trauma with his nose — he is hanging in there. He is not in his top form. He felt very tired indeed.” 

Mbappé accepted before the Portugal game that he wasn’t in prime shape and needed a “good pre-season to be at 100%.” That will come at Real Madrid, which he has joined after running down his contract at Paris Saint-Germain. 

Getting his nose broken in France’s opening group game at Euro 2024 threw him off kilter, too, restricting a part of his game because of his lack of peripheral vision. 

His best performances so far might have come in France’s news conferences, where he has been vocal in urging French people to vote in the snap elections while warning about the dangers of the far right getting into power. 

On the field, Mbappé is part of a France team that heads into a semifinal match against Spain on Tuesday having scored three goals this tournament — two own-goals and his penalty against Austria. No France player has scored a goal from open play yet. 

Like Greece in 2004, France is looking to reach the final pretty much entirely based on its mean defense and team structure. Except the talent in this France squad far outweighs what was at Greece’s disposal 20 years ago. 

“In the locker room, we weren’t thinking that we still hadn’t scored a goal in the game,” said Mbappé, who netted a hat trick in the 2022 World Cup final. “But yes, we will look into the question [of France’s lack of efficiency in attack] while maintaining this defensive solidity. 

“I’ve only scored one goal, but we’re in the semifinals and I’m very happy.” 

Mbappé didn’t much like watching the penalty shootout from afar, either. 

“It’s worse than shooting,” he said, laughing. 

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