Mbappé wants to erase bad memory of decisive penalty miss and leave Euro 2024 as a champion

0
12

PARIS (AP) — The last time Kylian Mbappé kicked a ball at the European Championship, it sent France out of the competition.

He was the only player to miss in a penalty shootout against Switzerland, and France was eliminated from Euro 2020 in the round of 16 in a game where they led 3-1.

Mbappé, who received hateful abuse online following the miss, is desperate to make amends at Euro 2024 in Germany.

“It was a slap in the face when we failed at the Euro,” the 25-year-old striker said earlier this month. “It’s a big stain on my CV in the national team. I’m in a vengeful mood.”

France is in Group D, where it faces Austria on Monday, followed by the Netherlands on Friday and Poland on June 25.

Mbappé, the team captain, was missing from practice at France’s team based in Germany on Thursday but was back training with his teammates the following days.

“He took some rest but he’s not going to lose his physical condition just because he missed one or two training sessions,” France veteran Olivier Giroud said Friday. “He still has the same legs that we all know and the determination to achieve a great competition. So don’t worry he’s going to be ready for the first match.”

Mbappé was too young to play for France when it reached the final at Euro 2016, bursting onto the scene as a teenager with Monaco the following season. At 19 he won the World Cup with France in 2018, scoring in the final. In Qatar four years later, he became only the second player after Brazil great Pelé to score a hat trick in a World Cup final, though France still lost the match on penalties to Lionel Messi’s Argentina.

“I’ve always wanted to shine for Les Bleus,” the 25-year-old Mbappé said on June 4 before a friendly against Luxembourg. “I’ve always felt this pride, this ambition to leave my mark on French soccer.”

With 47 international goals, he is third on the all-time scoring list behind Giroud (57) and Thierry Henry (51). If Mbappé remains injury free he could well pass 100 goals, a tally reached by just three men in soccer history — Messi, Ali Daei and 130-goal record holder Cristiano Ronaldo.

At club level, Mbappé recently left Paris Saint-Germain as its all-time leading scorer with 256 goals. He won the French league title six times with PSG and once with Monaco.

Although he’s never won the Champions League, or the men’s Ballon d’Or, those dreams could well be fulfilled at his new club Real Madrid over the next five seasons.

“What awaits me will be fantastic,” said Mbappé, who grew up in the Parisian suburb of Bondy. “I’m happy to have left my mark on the PSG’s history. Now there’s the Euro.”

His red-hot burning ambition with Les Bleus is to raise the European Championship trophy high above his head in Berlin in the Euro 2024 final on July 14 — France’s national day.

If Mbappé leaves Germany with a winners’ medal, he will emulate France greats Michel Platini and Zinedine Zidane.

Platini scored nine goals in five games from midfield when France won the European Championship in 1984. Zidane followed up his triumph at the 1998 World Cup with even better performances for champions Les Bleus at Euro 2000.

“We haven’t won it for a long time, 24 years is a lot for a nation like ours,” Mbappé said. “The Euro is a difficult competition, more than a World Cup. All the teams know each other and the style of soccer is similar. Group stages are difficult.” ___

AP Euro 2024: https://apnews.com/hub/euro-2024

Source: post