Mbappe's spark missing as France stumble through

Neither side pushed for a winner in added time and France rode their luck to progress from a penalty shootout.

In Summary
  • He was hit in the face by the ball midway through the second half, needing several minutes of treatment before returning to the pitch, fiddling with the mask and still clearly in discomfort.
  • Ultimately, he was unable to provide the spark France needed to get through in 90 minutes and it was no surprise to see him taken off in extra time as he sat in the dugout holding ice to his face.
Kylian Mbappe (C) of France in action with Belgium's Kevin De Bryune during a Euro 2024 round of 16 match in Duesseldorf, Germany on July 1
Kylian Mbappe (C) of France in action with Belgium's Kevin De Bryune during a Euro 2024 round of 16 match in Duesseldorf, Germany on July 1
Image: XINHUA

Focus has been on Mbappe throughout the tournament after he broke his nose in the group stage and he still does not look comfortable wearing the mask he needs to continue playing.

He was hit in the face by the ball midway through the second half, needing several minutes of treatment before returning to the pitch, fiddling with the mask and still clearly in discomfort.

Ultimately, he was unable to provide the spark France needed to get through in 90 minutes and it was no surprise to see him taken off in extra time as he sat in the dugout holding ice to his face.

"He is always very honest with me and the team. When he feels he doesn't have the capacity to accelerate we cannot afford to lose that, even when it's Kylian," said France manager Didier Deschamps.

"With everything that's happened with him, he's hanging in there. He's not at his top form and over time, with the efforts he put in, he felt very tired."

In the absence of Mbappe’s magic, France lacked creativity and struggled, relying on brief lapses in concentration in Portugal’s defence for chances.

Camavinga had a huge opportunity to put them ahead when the ball fell kindly for him in the box, only for him to drag wide from close range.

Neither side pushed for a winner in added time and France rode their luck - as they have done for much of the tournament - to progress from a penalty shootout.

They were one of the heavy favourites leading into the tournament but while they have scraped through to the semi-finals here, they have done little to convince supporters they can beat an impressive Spanish side in their next match.