MATT BARLOW: KYLIAN MBAPPE HELPED BEAT MARINE LE PEN'S NATIONAL RALLY... NOW FRANCE'S MAIN MAN HAS HIS SIGHTS SET ON THE SPANISH AT EURO 2024

  • Far-right party National Rally suffered a defeat in the snap French elections 
  • Several French players have been vocal on the elections during Euro 2024 
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Having cast his considerable influence across the French elections Kylian Mbappe will for his next trick attempt to alter the direction of Euro 2024.

Spain have been the outstanding team of the tournament, with the look of champions since a three-goal spree in the first half of their opening game against Croatia but such things can change.

Marine Le Pen's far-right National Rally party seemed set to dominate France's National Assembly until Mbappe and Co mobilised.

Marcus Thuram, Jules Kounde, Ibrahima Konate and Aurelien Tchouameni were among the others to join their captain and urge young voters to rise up and drive extremists from 'the gates'.

When the results were declared on Sunday, turnout was at its highest for the second round of voting since 1981 and National Rally had been beaten into third with a leftist coalition taking control.

'The relief is equal to the worry of recent weeks, it is immense,' wrote Kounde on social media. 'Long live diversity,' wrote Thuram. 'A great victory,' wrote Konate. 'The people's victory,' wrote Tchouameni.

Mbappe was spared the captain's usual pre-match media duties on the eve of the semi-final with Didier Deschamps determined to keep his players focused on the task of repelling Spain and reaching Sunday's final in Berlin.

Adrien Rabiot, who stepped into the role, said: 'We were obviously concerned about the result of the election. We have other things on our minds as well. Some players were active on social media. We haven't spoken collectively but a lot of people felt relief.

'Sports and politics don't go well together. We have reached a semi-final, and we need to put politics aside. We told people to go and vote and lots went to vote. It was a democratic decision. I am a footballer and now it is time to leave the analysis and whether it is good or bad to the experts.'

As for their quest for Tuesday's semi-final in Munich, the French are happy to go along with the notion that it is Spain's to lose.

'I'm not trying to put pressure on them,' said Deschamps sounding more than a little like he was. 'But they are the team with the best Euros, leaving the best impression on everyone after every game.'

France have made it this far in the competition by virtue of a strong defensive unit shielded by an industrious and physically-imposing midfield. They have conceded only once, a penalty against Poland in the group, and shown little va-va-voom going forward. Their three goals have come from an Mbappe penalty and two own goals.

'If you are bored watch another game, that's fine by me,' said Deschamps, in response to an accusation from a Swedish reporter that his team were dull. 'You don't have to watch but this is the European Championship, and we have an opportunity to make lots of French men and women happy at a difficult time for our country. I'm sorry if the Swedish are bored of our football but it doesn't bother me much.'

Even so, most in the French camp accept they would like to conjure extra creativity. Mbappe has failed to make his usual impact, unable to maraud in the protective mask worn since breaking his nose in the opening game against Austria.

He came off during extra time in the quarter-final against Portugal with the Deschamps citing tiredness related to a back problem which compromised his fitness towards the end of the season at Paris Saint-Germain as well as the pain and discomfort in his face.

'His field of vision is modified by the mask,' said the France boss. 'He will have to get used to it. He will be with the mask for weeks, maybe months. The bruise is gone, the swelling is down, and his nose feels stronger. I am convinced Kylian is in the right headspace, as are all the players.'

Rabiot's return from suspension, probably at the expense of Eduardo Camavinga, may address the balance and Ousmane Dembele, impressive off the bench against Portugal, is tipped to replace a beleaguered Antoine Griezmann.

'It would be easier if we had Antoine and Kylian at the top of their games, which obviously hasn't been the case,' said Juventus midfielder Rabiot. 'Maybe their legs are not as fresh as could be, but we have blind faith in them. We know they are players who can change a game at any point.'

Spain will be without Pedri, injured against Germany, and two of the back four are banned. Dani Carvajal was sent off late on in the quarter final and Robin Le Normand, one of two France-born defenders in Luis de la Fuente's squad, picked up a yellow card which rules him out.

Nacho, who had been expected to step in for Le Normand, is another doubt. Jesus Navas, the former Manchester City winger now a full back and still going strong at 38, could replace Carvajal and go up against Mbappe.

Will the changes jolt them from their sublime rhythm? They have been exceptional since the flying start. They outclassed Italy, swept past Georgia and disposed of Germany, although they required a goal in the 119th minute by Mikel Merino to avoid the perils of penalties against the hosts.

'Now for Mbappe' roared the Spanish papers after that win. France's captain is bound for Real Madrid, a transfer like a shot of self-esteem for Spanish football. Beating his France team would be another but they will be wary of the man in the mask with a habit of changing the future.

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2024-07-08T18:30:02Z dg43tfdfdgfd