France boss Didier Deschamps defended his choice to call up an injured Kylian Mbappé, who only played 37 minutes in three matches over the international break, coming off the bench in Tuesday's 4-2 Nations League win over Sweden.
Suffering from a hamstring complaint, Mbappé hadn't taken the field since October 31's Ligue 1 Uber Eats trip to Nantes with PSG, but the superstar forward made his return to action at the Stade de France as Les Bleus ended the UEFA Nations League group stage on an undefeated high with a 4-2 battering of Sweden.
Keen to further quash the memory of their 2-0 friendly defeat to Finland a week ago, Les Bleus were already 2-1 up when Mbappé came on, Olivier Giroud having hit a superb opener (16') before a typically stylish half-volley from right-back Benjamin Pavard found the back of the net (36').
Mbappé wasn't about to let everyone else have all the fun, however, and just a minute after coming on he looped in a perfect cross for Giroud to head home a triumphant second to make it 3-1 (59'). Although Sweden pulled one back late, Kingsley Coman restored the three-goal lead in injury time (90'+5) and Les Bleus ended the group stage in winning form.
Deschamps: 'Medical staff did an amazing job'
Believing perhaps that Mbappé would have been better off recovering in Paris than travelling with the team to make a 37-minute, one assist contribution, journalists quizzed Deschamps on his choice in the post-match presser.
"Everything went well with Kylian. He's going to go back to his club, available, fresh. But I have the impression at times, when he comes to play with France, that people think we are not able to take care of him," said a visibly irritated Deschamps. "We did things gradually, according to how he felt. It wasn't possible for him to play against Portugal, even though he wanted to. I had a choice to make in relation to his playing time. We took the time to warm him up. He felt good and he had good sensations. (...) The medical staff did an amazing job to help him get better."
Back to work
While Les Bleus won't be in action again until the international break in March 2021, Mbappé should be good to go as Paris Saint-Germain look to build on their five-point lead atop the Ligue 1 Uber Eats standings as they travel to the prodigy's former club AS Monaco for their Round 11 clash on Friday night.