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Football | Thursday, June 20, 2024 7:12 AM

Mikael Silvestre signs the praises of N’Golo Kante on his return to the international stage

Mikael Silvestre signs the praises of N’Golo Kante on his return to the international stage
Action Plus Sports Images / Alamy Stock Photo: N'Golo Kante (FRA) drives out of defense

Here at bettingexpert, Devang Prasad sat down with former Manchester United defender Mikael Silvestre. 

The pair discussed France’s start to their European campaign with takeaways from the France vs Austria match, who did and didn’t impress him during the game and the ramifications of the Kylian Mbappe injury.

Kante was superb in return to French national team 

Monday evening saw a Didier Deschamps led France team kickstart their Euro 2024 campaign with a 1-0 victory over Austria. Your takeaways from last night’s performance? A victory marred by the broken nose sustained to talisman Kylian Mbappe who will miss the next two group stage games. Silvestre was full of praise for the returning N’golo Kante whose inclusion had been questioned prior to the start of the tournament. But it was a performance akin to his prime years in the Premier League. 

“Players are fit. I felt like they had good energy and they played at a high tempo. Both France and Austria. Everybody gave a lot of energy and it was very positive on that aspect because on the back of a long season, the players can sometimes be tired but not the case.”

“Kante was superb in that way. Offensively and defensively, he was everywhere, covering the back four and stopping crucial attempts from Austria in the second half.”

“Very positive start from France.”

Kante produced a virtuoso performance display during the game with his all action energy helping to steer to victory. Silvestre was impressed with Mike Maignan but couldn’t help but to give Kante the player of the match award. 

“Maignan had a very good game. Defensive solidity for a tournament like this is crucial and it gives confidence to the entire team. Man of the match was Kante, followed by Maignan.”

“That’s two defensive players which means offensively, we weren’t that great. Especially the finishing but it’s not a concern as there were chances.”

Saliba should remain in the France starting 11 

Ibrahima Konate was a surprise exclusion from France’s opener. Konate has been the partner of Dayot Upamecano for a sustained period but Deschamps elected to go with a partnership of Upamecano and Arsenal star William Saliba. Saliba endured a few nervy moments during the game but Silvestre argues the fact Saliba was required to lay as a left sided centre back rather than his preferred right side didn’t help the young defender.

“I follow William Saliba with Arsenal and I want him to do well for the national team. The fact that he plays as a right centre-back for Arsenal and for France, he plays as a left centre-back, I don’t think that puts him in the best condition.”

“Yeah he had a bit of nervousness at one point but not too much. He’s still very calm otherwise. His stats are pretty good so he wasn’t involved in a goal for Austria. I don’t think that’s going to put him out of the side for the next game. He should be playing the next one.”

The big talking point from the game was Mbappe’s injury which will see him miss France’s remaining group stages games which will come as a huge blow. 

“The next game, he’s definitely missing. I’ve had a broken nose myself, it is painful. You need time to let the pain and swelling go as it can affect your vision, overall well-being and also it can trigger other injuries. So you have to give him the rest.”

“The good thing is he doesn’t need surgery so he will be back soon. But definitely out for the game against the Netherlands.”

Silvestre argues football and politics shouldn’t intertwine 

Beyond the importance of the Euro 2024 campaign is the political conflicts ongoing in France. Recently Thuram & Mbappé spoke out regarding the political situation, urging people to come out and vote? Silvestre sympathises with the French stars who are required to speak to the media but are being asked to speak on political matters rather than just focusing on their football. 

“I was discussing this with Marcel Desailly last night but players are being put on the spot when it comes to the media. In the contract you have to appear in front of the media. It’s a difficult situation for the players and they’ve got to answer.”

“As much as I dislike the fact that they have to give a political opinion, because they are with the French national team and that team belongs to all the French people. It’s not the place to discuss political views. It shouldn’t be.”

“But at this moment, because we’re talking about the far right growing in the vote share, that’s why the players took the stand to make their opinion public. That’s very unusual.”

Politics does have a huge impact on the world we live in and these issues ongoing in France are issues that have ramifications on the players within the France squad. France has for a long time had a multicultural squad of players to pick from and so it could be argued they also feel an obligation to speak out against the movement of the far right which Silvestre emphasises with. 

“It’s important, as you can see in the national team, you have people from different origins and the far right is going against that. The far right’s views are against inclusion and the players are totally on the opposite side so they have to express it.”

“I just hope they will be left alone going forward as the competition has started and they need to fully focus on football and also once they speak, political parties take advantage of it, one way or the other.”

“You have to be very aware of what you’re saying but this is a critical time in France that’s why it’s something very unusual.”

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