Football
17 days ago

France team shrug off critics as they look ahead to semis

Euro 2024 - Quarter Final - Portugal v France - Hamburg Volksparkstadion, Hamburg, Germany - July 5, 2024 France's Mike Maignan celebrates with teammates after winning the penalty shootout REUTERS
Euro 2024 - Quarter Final - Portugal v France - Hamburg Volksparkstadion, Hamburg, Germany - July 5, 2024 France's Mike Maignan celebrates with teammates after winning the penalty shootout REUTERS

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France’s players are having none of the criticism of their team at the European Championship after reaching the semi-final, insisting they have done sufficiently well to get them this far in the tournament.

The French are through to the final four despite having only three goals – two own goals and a penalty – to their name and with much concern about the form of captain Kylian Mbappe and the vastly experienced Antoine Griezmann.

“Personally, I don't care at all. In the end, we are semi-finalists,” said midfielder Youssouf Fofana at a press conference on Sunday.

He was one of the successful penalty takers in Hamburg on Friday as France edged Portugal on post-match kicks to advance to Tuesday’s semi-final against Spain in Munich.

“As to the level of Antoine and Kylian, we must realise that it has been enough to get us to be semi-finalists. I don't see why we should look for the negative.

"We need to pull in the same direction in order to lift the trophy, not worry that so-and-so is not in form or that the way we have been playing has not been good, because in the end, it’s been enough to get us to the semis,” Fofana added.

Randal Kolo Muani, who was started against Portugal in the attack, backed Mbappe to still come good.

“I wouldn't say he’s had a poor tournament. He had a huge season, he scored more than 45 goals. Seeing him not score here, it's up to us to help him, to push him. The competition is not over. Apart from his broken nose, he's OK physically.”

Mbappe did net a penalty, in the group game against Poland, but has not looked comfortable in a mask since breaking his nose at the start of France’s campaign.

Both players also rejected suggestions the level at Euro 2024 had proven disappointing.

“Disappointing? I wouldn't say that. It's difficult to score, but I don't find it disappointing,” said Kolo Muani.

“Today's football is much more closed, much more tactical, played more without the ball,” added Fofana. “It really is a game of chess.”

As for the semi-final against Spain, Kolo Muani said the French would be up to the task.

“The matches are going to get harder and harder. They are one of the best teams in the tournament, playing very good football. We like big matches. We'll be ready by Tuesday.”

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