Dublin: Kylian Mbappe’s rise continued as France started their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign with a 4-0 win against the Netherlands and the forward will be looking to reach new heights as Les Bleus face Ireland away in Group B on Monday.
Mbappe has scored 38 goals for France and sits in fifth place overall in the list of the country’s top scorers, three shy of former great Michel Platini and 15 behind all-time leader Olivier Giroud.
“It’s an honour to be right here behind him but he’s the next target to shoot down as I continue my way towards the top,” Mbappe, who is France’s new captain since Hugo Lloris’s international retirement in January, told a news conference on Sunday.
“Michel, however, is a legend and will always be a legend. Whether I beat him tomorrow or another day, he will remain Michel Platini.” Mbappe netted a double at the Stade de France last Friday as France crushed the Netherlands in seemingly casual, yet brutal fashion.
They do not intent to stop there.
“We want to show we can be a great team, that’s the identity of this generation - this desire for greatness, a lot of players have that,” said the 24-year-old Mbappe.
The Paris St Germain player, who almost single-handedly turned the World Cup final when France were 2-0 down against Argentina before losing on penalties, believes Ireland will be a tough nut to crack at the Aviva Stadium.
“This game will not be as easy as people might think,” he warned.
Asked about the 18-year-old Evan Ferguson, who scored his first international goal in a 3-2 friendly win against Latvia last week, Mbappe said: “Let’s hope he is quiet. If he is, it means we will have done a good job.” To do that, France will rely on their pair of centre backs after Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konate proved unbreakable last Friday.
“They have played a lot of games together, and as time goes by there is always room for improvement,” said coach Didier Deschamps when asked about the pair, who played together at RB Leipzig from 2017-21.
“They are young players are at the highest level with their clubs. They were there at the World Cup, even if Dayot played more than Konate. They have a lot of qualities and they need to confirm before they can be compared to others.” The Netherlands host Gibraltar in the other Group B game on Monday.