France's Mbappe says broken nose a target in EURO 2024 last-16 game versus Belgium | (2024)

France captain Kylian Mbappe will not be surprised if his broken nose is targeted in a tough physical battle against neighbours Belgium in the last 16 at the European Championship in Duesseldorf on Monday but is prepared to push through the pain.

Mbappe broke his nose at the start of the tournament but returned for France's final Group D game, and scored, in the 1-1 draw against Poland, wearing a mask he described as "annoying"

“I think that if you're playing with a broken nose and you haven't had your nose operated yet, you're a target,” he told a press conference on Sunday.

“I knew what I was signing up for when I decided that I wasn't going to go home and that I wasn't going to get the operation done and that I was going to play.

“And maybe I’ll get muscled a little bit and it might hurt. But I'm ready to give everything I can for this jersey and to help France go as far as possible.

“If this means that someone's going to hit my nose, so be it. It’s already broken.”

Mbappe, speaking to the media for the first time since the injury, said he initially feared he might miss the rest of the tournament.

“When I got the blow to the face, I didn't really understand what was going on. I didn't feel that my nose was broken. It was when I looked at the goalkeeper and I saw his face and I thought ‘something's wrong here'," he said.

"When I got back to the dressing room, with everything that was happening around me, I thought that I was going home.

“Initially, it was difficult for me because there was a lot of information, lots of appointments, I didn't really sleep that much. I spent two nights without sleeping.

"And it was really difficult to sit on the bench against the Netherlands (during France's second group game) knowing that you're incapable of helping. I felt quite helpless. But, thankfully, I was able to play against Poland.”

France's Mbappe says broken nose a target in EURO 2024 last-16 game versus Belgium | (1)

Mbappe said, however, he was battling to adapt to wearing a mask, having been spotted at various training sessions, and in the last game, with at least five different versions.

“Actually it’s awful, horrible playing with a mask. I keep changing masks because every time there's something that bothers me, there's something that's not quite right.

“It's quite difficult to play with a mask because it limits your field of vision, your sweat clogs up.

“The first few days I felt like I was wearing 3D glasses. As soon as I can get rid of that mask, I will. But now I don't have a choice. I can't play without it. I hate it. It's really annoying and I’ve changed it more than five times.

“But I’m not making excuses because this is the only way I can play.”

Can a French player finally score in open play?

No French player has scored in open play in their last four matches – a warm-up friendly against Canada and three group games in Germany, where they beat Austria with an own goal and drew 1-1 with Poland after a Kylian Mbappe penalty.

"It's not the group matches anymore. It's a new competition within the competition," Deschamps told a press conference on Sunday.

"You have to be efficient. To win matches, you have to score. That’s not done by snapping your fingers, but you need to move the cursor (closer to goal)."

French media have speculated extensively over the tactical approach that the coach is expected to choose for Monday in what should be a tough tussle against their neighbours.

“I make sure to field a team that seems to me to have the best ability to put the opponent in difficulty by being solid defensively," added Deschamps.

France's Mbappe says broken nose a target in EURO 2024 last-16 game versus Belgium | (2)

“I don't change for the sake of changing, but I can make modifications. The important thing for me is the objective of placing all the players in the best situation,” he said.

At the last Euros, France, then the world champions, went out in the last 16 on penalties to Switzerland.

“That was painful and we want to do everything so that it doesn't happen again. We have a place in the quarter-finals to aim for," said Deschamps.

“Above all, we’ve had the success of having won a lot of knockout matches inside 90 minutes. Sure, we’re practising penalties but my goal is not to go that far.

“It remains football, a balance of power. We're going to make sure that only one person has a smile at the end and that's us,” he added.

But Deschamps did acknowledge it was shaping up to be a tough tournament for all the top teams, including France, who are among the favourites.

“It's very hard for everyone and some teams here, even if on paper considered small, are playing a role. There is a lot of intensity in this tournament.”

France's Mbappe says broken nose a target in EURO 2024 last-16 game versus Belgium | (2024)
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