Mbappé watches and Kanté reigns in the bond between France and the Netherlands | Eurocup Germany 2024

Thursday's masquerade made way for Friday's game. After Kylian Mbappé pretended to be ready to take part in training the day before, France entered the field without him, who remained absolutely excluded on the bench, and this festive European Championship, in which no match seems to have serious consequences, gave rise to something Really real. France and the Netherlands faced each other with the spirit of the friends of Antoine Griezmann against Memphis Depay's friends, compadres since they met at Barça, inseparable at Atlético, black football lovers who live with a playful spirit. Giving each other presents. In Leipzig they had a pleasant and professional match that started lively and ended at a pace of Biscuit, as the first 0-0 of the tournament.

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Bart Verbruggen, Virgil van Dijk, Stefan de Vrij, Denzel Dumfries, Nathan Aké, Cody Gakpo, Jeremy Frimpong, Jerdy Schouten, Xavi Simons, Tijjani Reijnders, Memphis Depay, Joey Veerman (Xavi Simons, min. 72), Georginio Wijnaldum (Jerdy Schouten, min. 72), Lutsharel Geertruida (Jeremie Frimpong, min. 72) and Wout Weghorst (Memphis Depay, min. 78)

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Mike Maignan, Théo Hernández, Dayot Upamecano, William Saliba, Jules Koundé, Ousmane Dembélé, N'Golo Kanté, Adrien Rabiot, Aurélien Tchouaméni, Antoine Griezmann, Marcus Thuram, Kingsley Coman (Ousmane Dembélé, min. 74) and Olivier Giroud (Marcus Thuram, min. 74)

Referee Anthony Taylor

Yellow cards

Jerdy Schouten (min. 31)

It rarely happens in these times of alienated footballers, desire for control and sacrifices on the altar of automation. From time to time, the matches evolve towards player-rule scenarios. It happened at the Red Bull Arena after an afternoon of showers. The air was filled with electricity and the smell of wet earth, and the boys from France and the Netherlands took to the field without the pressure that usually puts pressure on their coaches, clubs and federations all year round. They had just won the first match of the group, they had three points, and in this Folklore Euro Cup that is equivalent to having more than half of a guaranteed ranking, so they approached the proceedings with a hedonistic air. With responsibility, but without fear. The guys from the factory took a break and went outside for some fresh air. Deschamp's achievement and Koeman, without a doubt two old-fashioned guys who decompressed their concentration after a stressful season and provided them with a broad framework of action. Throughout almost the entire match the players gave the impression of doing things according to their real knowledge and understanding, and that is a lot when Griezmann, Rabiot and Kanté are together on one side, and Van Dijk and Depay together with Reinjders and Schouten, two new children in the neighborhood.

Reinjders, who took Frenkie's place, showed a display of maturity and harmony in combination with his squire Schouten. The Milan midfielder assisted Van Dijk, accelerating the maneuvers with one touch, anticipating the cuts and launching the attacks with a display of qualities. If they did not flourish, it was because the concerned Xavi Simons, the middleman managing Gakpo and Depay, was phagocytosed. by N'Golo Kante. There are footballers of journalists and footballers of footballers, like this feisty midfielder who always appears in the perfect position, as if moved by a chess genius on the imaginary game board. Kanté's sensitivity in his feet is underestimated, but the truth is that he knows how to do almost everything. In both areas and in the middle. It is ubiquitous. It's generous. It is smart. He is quick on his feet and his cognitive activity quickly gets him into situations where many of his teammates would rather hide, for fear of the ball being stolen. His specialty is the construction of dead-end corridors. He manufactures them for unsuspecting rivals such as Simons, Gakpo or Depay himself. Everyone went into their bags and France lived safely. Tchouameni, Koundé, Saliba and Upamecano simply had to step on the bandwagon.

Cross to Thuram, goal disallowed for Simons

The match started with rhythm and great accuracy, the two teams closed the spaces and possession of the ball was alternated with practice plays. Frimpong tested Maignan to start, and then Rabiot teamed up with Thuram to devise a wall to leave Griezmann alone, who reacted late to the definition. The first half was exhausted when France found themselves in the Dutch field. If Deschamps' hand was reflected in anything, it was in the profusion of centers. Most of them went looking for Thuram, almost as if they were sending passes to nowhere. Van Dijk and De Vrij did not grant him any delay.

After the hour, Gakpo brought on Depay, and Koundé gave him the meter he needed to finish. The goalkeeper's approval went to Simons, who scored the goal of his life and celebrated as the VAR ruled out Dumfries' offside play. A five-minute drama unfolded on the judges' screens. When the match resumed, Kanté left Griezmann alone at the far post, after a move that combined two triangles and a backheel – a healthy crowd – from Thuram. The ball ended up going out.

The Burgundian's failure left the match in limbo and the fans dispersed, leaving a moral winner on the pitch: N'Golo Kanté. MVP again. It comes from the Arab League, but at this European Championship it is more than enough.

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