5 Things We Learnt From Austria 0 - 1 France

5 Things We Learnt From Austria 0 - 1 France

19/06/24 21:47

5 Things We Learnt From Austria 0 - 1 France

Following France’s tense 1-0 win over Austria to open their Euro 2024 campaign, a game in which they lost star man Kylian Mbappe to a suspected broken nose, we take a deeper dive into the events of the game, and discuss 5 things we learnt.

Need for Speed

Austria started the game with Freiburg target-man Michael Gregoritsch as their main man up top, and while he is useful in games where Austria dominant and are given the time and space to aim crosses at him, their lack of pace and dynamism, particularly on the counter attack, was clear for all to see.

In the second half, when Marko Arnautovic was brought on in his place, Austria looked far more fluid and creative going forward, and despite Arnautovic’s advanced age and constantly receding pace, his more dynamic style suits Austria’s high press, quick breaking style. Expect to see him start the next game against Poland.

50/50 battle

Prior to the tournament starting, I said in my team overview that the Austrian midfield would be the third of the pitch where they have the highest potential to dominate, and they certainly showed their hand in this game. Playing against some of the best central players in the world in Kante, Rabiot and Griezmann, Seiwald, Grillitsch and Baumgartner were full of energy, hard-working and combative in 50/50’s all night, and added support from Konrad Laimer, who played on the left flank, helped add solidity when they were on the back foot.

With their toughest game out of the way, they have a high chance of reaching the knockout stages if they show this level of performance in the middle of the park in their remaining two group games, thoroughly putting me in place in the process after I predicted them to finish bottom of the group…

Euro’s curse continues for Mbappe

As usual, Mbappe was at the heart of things for France. In the first half he was one of the only sparks providing interest in the game, and his sharp interplay and chemistry with Theo Hernandez caused problems for an otherwise unbothered Austria defense, and it was his cross that was turned home by Maximilian Wober for the only goal of the game.

However, his record of never having scored at a Euros tournament continues. He had a golden chance to break his duck ten minutes into the second half when his pace carried him clear of the defense and left him 1v1, but to the astonishment of everyone watching, he pushed his shot wide.

His night got significantly worse when close to the end of normal time, he contested a header with physical Austrian defender Danso, and appeared to break his nose on his opponent's shoulder. There is no way of knowing at this stage how this affects the rest of his tournament, but France will be hoping he, and his goal, return sooner rather than later.

Final third

In a first half of very few chances, it was hard to deduce anything about the attacks of either side. Perhaps France were a little too tentative in their approach in the early stages, but the two sides were still feeling each other out and assessing weaknesses in the opponent's formations. But in the second half, where the game opened up, particularly for France, there was a distinct lack of clinical finishing, even from accomplished finishers Mbappe and Griezmann.

Austria, limited in their attacks, never really had the opportunity to create clear-cut chances apart from a golden opportunity which fell to Baumgartlinger, who saw his close-range effort miraculously saved by Maignan, but otherwise not too much can be surmised from this game. However, for France, with all the depth and experience in their attacking line-up, their output needs to improve in tough upcoming games against Netherlands and Poland.

Kante back like he never left

You know the old saying: “70% of the world is covered by water, the rest is covered by N’golo Kante.” He was absolutely everywhere tonight, breaking up play in his typical energetic style and carrying the ball on marauding runs forward, particularly when the game opened up in the second half. His all action showing earned him the Man of the match award, and deservedly so.

It begs the question of why he hasn’t been selected for national duty for the last 2 years. Granted, he had his injury issues in the back end of his spell at Chelsea, but he has played 45 games for Al-Ittihad in Saudi Arabia this season, and seems to be back to his best. If he can stay fit throughout this tournament, France may still have a good chance of winning it, even if Mbappe is absent for their next couple of fixtures.

Preparation begins for both sides ahead of their second group games, where Austria face Poland at 6pm on friday, while France take on the Netherlands in Group D’s headline match 3 hours later.

Benji Kosartiyer
Harry Pascoe

Football Writer


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