Broken nose inhibits Mbappe’s form as France advance

AFP / Franck Fife

Kylian Mbappe’s broken nose remains a major concern for France as they head to the European Championship semi-finals, even if the France captain says he is not too bothered by his indifferent form.

The importance of Mbappe to the French cause cannot be underestimated, but an anonymous performance in Hamburg against Portugal in their quarter-final on Friday ended with him asking to be taken off during extra time.

"These are the peculiarities of being a footballer. But even then, you have to keep up your involvement and always be there for your teammates," Mbappe told reporters after France booked a semi-final clash against Spain by winning the penalty shootout against Portugal.

"I've always said that no matter what happens, the most important thing is that we win. I've only scored one goal, but we are in the semi-finals, and I'm very happy."

Mbappe's contribution has been limited largely because of the broken nose he suffered in France's opening game against Austria. While he missed only one match as a result, the impact of the blow, when he leapt for a high ball and crashed into defender Kevin Danso's shoulder, has been significant.

Mbappe laboured through Friday's clash, striking several efforts at target but without any of the characteristic power and verve that has made him France's key attacker.

He said playing with a mask was difficult, and he hated it because it affected his peripheral vision and trapped sweat.

The mask has to be worn to protect Mbappe's nose, but there was one occasion on Friday when it looked like the injury might force him off.

He was hit on the side of the face by a header from Ruben Dias shortly before the hour mark and, for a prolonged period, remained down, the mask lying next to him as he touched his nose gingerly.

The blow from the ball, although on the side of his head, was patently painful, but Mbappe eventually returned to his feet and the match. He stayed away from any aerial confrontation after that and faded as the goalless game headed into extra time.

"We had already discussed with the coach at the end of regulation time. We decided I would try longer, but at halftime, in extra time, I told him that I wasn't feeling it anymore, that I was too tired. He told me 'okay'," Mbappe said.

Didier Deschamps is unlikely to leave out Mbappe against Spain in Munich on Tuesday, even if the forward is not firing anywhere near full capacity, although he did drop another talisman, Antoine Griezmann, for a group match.

The coach bristled in annoyance on Friday when reporters again asked about the duo's inefficiency.

"Obviously, for different reasons, Antoine and Kylian are not at the top of what they can do, but we are through. We are a group; the collective strength is still ther"," said Deschamps.

More from Sports