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Euro 2024: Why missing Mbappe will be a bitter pill to swallow for France

Football
 France's forward Kylian Mbappe during a training session in Paderborn, western Germany. [AFP]

France boast fearsome strength in depth, but remain hugely reliant on Kylian Mbappe for inspiration and are now facing the prospect of being without their injured superstar for at least their next Euro 2024 game against the Netherlands today.

Captain Mbappe is recovering from a broken nose suffered in Monday's 1-0 win over Austria in Duesseldorf in their opening match at the tournament.

The new Real Madrid signing, who forced the own goal by Maximilian Woeber which decided the game, was badly hurt in a collision with Austrian defender Kevin Danso and had to be replaced by Olivier Giroud.

The French Football Federation later said Mbappe would not need an operation but did admit he would need to be fitted with a mask before he could return to action.

In any case, the lack of time between matches means the clash with the Dutch in Leipzig is set to come too soon for the 25-year-old.

And France coach Didier Deschamps will hope his team can get a positive result which could seal their last-16 place, meaning Mbappe might also be able to sit out the last Group D game against Poland without it being a problem.

But can Les Bleus beat a strong Netherlands side without arguably the world's most lethal striker?

"Of course he is an important player, the captain, a leader. So that will have an impact, but we have an exceptional squad," midfielder Adrien Rabiot said on Wednesday.

Mbappe is his country's third-top scorer of all time with 47 goals from 80 caps, behind only Giroud and Thierry Henry.

He has only scored once in France's last six matches, and that was in a pre-tournament friendly against Luxembourg.

However, he had an outsize impact on their performances at the last World Cup, scoring eight goals -half the team's total -including an astonishing hat-trick in the final against Argentina.

France met the Netherlands twice in Euro 2024 qualifying, and Mbappe scored a brace on each occasion, in a 4-0 win in Paris and in a 2-1 victory in Amsterdam.

Above all, it is worth considering how France have done in recent games without the player who has just ended a prolific seven-year spell at Paris Saint-Germain.

Deschamps' team lost 2-1 in a friendly in Germany last September when Mbappe was left on the bench. They also laboured to a 0-0 draw against Canada in their final pre-tournament friendly when he only appeared as a late substitute.

Their goal threat is obviously not the same without Mbappe, even if he has still never scored at the European Championship.

The obvious option for Deschamps when it comes to replacing Mbappe would be to start Giroud, even if the big centre-forward is a very different player.

Giroud, who will move to MLS after the tournament, is 37 now and has also been nursing a minor groin injury.

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