Kylian Mbappé, Didier Deschamps, France
Les Bleus

France-Australia preview: 'Mbappé has matured'

France-Australia preview: 'Mbappé has matured'

Les Bleus
Publish on 11/21 at 13:42 - S. TELFORD

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Kylian Mbappé is a better player than he was four years ago according to France coach Didier Deschamps - a sobering thought for Australia ahead of the world champions' Group D opener on Tuesday.

France - Australia

 

- Kick-off: at 19:00 GMT

 

Les Bleus have had a difficult time with injuries in the run-up to the tournament, with N'Golo Kanté and Paul Pogba already missing the competition before recent Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema had to pull out with a thigh complaint.

 

The absence of Real Madrid's former Olympique Lyonnais striker puts a greater onus on Paris Saint-Germain star Mbappé to get the goals, but after his Ligue 1 Uber Eats-leading 12 from 14 games so far this season, that shouldn't be much of a worry.

 

'He's done some very important things'

 

"It's true that he was still young," Deschamps said when asked to reflect on the 2018 edition, in which Mbappé scored in the 4-2 win over Croatia in the final. "He still is, but less so. He's done some very important things with us already."

 

Watch: Mbappé hit a hat-trick as PSG beat LOSC 7-1 earlier this season



"In four years, he's matured even if he was ahead of his age. He's progressed. He's more recognised globally and has responsibilities, although no more internally. But his ability to score and score, he's always had it, and we'll need it. He can be decisive at any time. But he's part of a team."

 

Positional change

 

Mbappé is likely to play to the left of AC Milan's Olivier Giroud in attack, rather than operating as a No.9 himself. The 23-year-old is one of six Ligue 1 Uber Eats players in the squad, but the only one from PSG after Presnel Kimpembe also pulled out with injury.

 

AS Monaco's Axel Disasi was called up in his stead, and is the only uncapped player in Deschamp's squad.


France beat Australia 2-1 in the group stage on the way to their 2018 triumph in Russia, and are overwhelming favourites to do so again.

 

Settled squad

 

Only four Australians that started that game - Matt Ryan, Aaron Mooy, Mathew Leckie and Aziz Behich - are likely to be in the Socceroos first XI on Tuesday, in contrast to France who look very familiar but for the Kanté Pogba absences.

 

Martin Boyle was a late pull-out with a knee injury. Fellow former Hibernian forward Jason Cummings could lead the line having switched his own international allegiance from Scotland recently.

 

There was no place in the Australia squad for Toulouse FC midfielder Denis Genreau.

 

Possible teams

 

France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, L. Hernandez, T. Hernandez; Tchouaméni, Rabiot; Dembélé, Griezmann, Mbappé; Giroud

 

Australia: Ryan; Atkinson, Wright, Rowles, Behich; Irvine, Mooy; Mabil, Hrustic, Leckie; Cummings