France began life at home after winning their second World Cup with a hard-earned win over the Netherlands, who failed to qualify for this summer’s tournament. It seemed fitting that the first goalscorer was none other than PSG forward Kylian Mbappe, who won the “Best Young Player” award in Russia. His work rate wearing the blue of his national team is every bit as impressive as it is in the Parisian home kit, and he timed his run perfectly to get onto the end of Blaise Matuidi‘s lovely pass across the face of goal, tapping France ahead after 13 minutes. Didier Deschamps’ men were ahead until the second half, when Besiktas’ Ryan Babel brought the Dutch level. It wasn’t long until Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud restored the lead and ultimately won it for France.
The away goal, scored by former Liverpool forward Babel, was actually his first competitive international goal since his debut against Romania in 2005, while Giroud was celebrating ending a barren spell of his own. The former Arsenal striker was on a run of 10 international games without a goal, and the relief was clear for all to see as he superbly volleyed Benjamin Mendy‘s cross to give France the win in their inaugural Nations League match. The tension seemed to transfer to Dutch coach Ronald Koeman, who after the match lamented his side’s poor defending for France’s second goal. He did take the time to praise the overall performance, however – saying that this proved his team are capable of going toe to toe with the best in the world on their day.
This was France’s first Nations League win following their goalless draw with Germany, with Deschamps naming the same starting team in both games. Mbappe was unlucky not to get a second, with visiting stopper Jasper Cillessen doing well on a number of occasions to keep the hungry hosts at bay, but his efforts in the end were in vein as the French left an entertaining evenening’s football in Paris with the spoils. France have another home game coming next, with Iceland proving the visitors. The Icelandics will be wanting a somewhat more flattering scoreline than the last time these two teams met – France won 5-2 in the quarter finals of Euro 2016. Iceland have never beaten the French either, though they have managed draws on three occasions – once in 1975, then again in 1986 and finally 1998.
For the Netherlands, they have a home match against Germany coming up next month in the Nations League, before travelling to Belgium for a friendly three days later.