France’s Kylian Mbappé: Broken nose a ‘target’ for Belgium

France captain Kylian Mbappé will not be surprised if his broken nose is targeted in a tough physical battle against neighbours Belgium in the round of 16 at the European Championship in Duesseldorf on Monday, but is prepared to push through the pain.

Mbappé broke his nose at the start of the tournament but returned for France’s final Group D game, and scored in the 1-1 draw against Poland wearing a mask he described as “annoying.”

“I think that if you’re playing with a broken nose and you haven’t had your nose operated yet, you’re a target,” he told a press conference on Sunday.

“I knew what I was signing up for when I decided that I wasn’t going to go home and that I wasn’t going to get the operation done and that I was going to play.

“And maybe I’ll get muscled a little bit and it might hurt. But I’m ready to give everything I can for this jersey and to help France go as far as possible.

“If this means that someone’s going to hit my nose, so be it. It’s already broken.”

Mbappé, speaking to the media for the first time since the injury, said he initially feared he might miss the rest of the tournament.

“When I got the blow to the face, I didn’t really understand what was going on. I didn’t feel that my nose was broken. It was when I looked at the goalkeeper and I saw his face and I thought ‘something’s wrong here’,” he said.

“When I got back to the dressing room, with everything that was happening around me, I thought that I was going home.

“Initially, it was difficult for me because there was a lot of information, lots of appointments, I didn’t really sleep that much. I spent two nights without sleeping.

“And it was really difficult to sit on the bench against the Netherlands [during France’s second group game] knowing that you’re incapable of helping. I felt quite helpless. But, thankfully, I was able to play against Poland.”

Mbappé said, however, he was battling to adapt to wearing a mask, having been spotted at various training sessions, and in the last game, with at least five different versions.

“Actually it’s awful, horrible playing with a mask. I keep changing masks because every time there’s something that bothers me, there’s something that’s not quite right.

“It’s quite difficult to play with a mask because it limits your field of vision, your sweat clogs up.

“The first few days I felt like I was wearing 3D glasses. As soon as I can get rid of that mask, I will. But now I don’t have a choice. I can’t play without it. I hate it. It’s really annoying and I’ve changed it more than five times.

“But I’m not making excuses because this is the only way I can play.”

Beside the fitness of his star player, France manager Didier Deschamps was also concerned with his team’s scoring form during this year’s Euro as Les Bleus have not scored from open play in Germany.

“It’s not the group matches anymore. It’s a new competition within the competition,” Deschamps told a press conference on Sunday. “You have to be efficient. To win matches, you have to score. That’s not done by snapping your fingers, but you need to move the cursor [closer to goal].”

Information from Reuters was used in this story.