Kylian Mbappé was demonstratively modest. When cheering in front of the French football fans, he held back, he even went quickly towards the dressing room as the first. At the subsequent press conference, which he should have attended as "player of the game", he didn't even show up.
The 23-year-old, who is now level with Zinédine Zidane with 31 goals for the Equipe Tricolore, did not want to talk. But his wide grin betrayed how blissful the world's most expensive player was that night in Doha. It was his party, his show. With two goals (61st and 86th minute) in the 2-1 (0-0) against Denmark, he alone ensured that France qualified for the round of 16 of the World Cup after the second group game - and thus the world champion. curse dispelled. The Équipe Tricolore became the first defending champions since Brazil 2006 not to fail in the group stage of the following World Cup.
"We achieved the first goal. And when I hear what the journalists told me about the former world champions, it wasn't easy," said national coach Didier Deschamps with a broad smile. "This talk never bothered me. I was absolutely not afraid that it would happen to us, too," said the coach, who gave Bayern Munich right-back Benjamin Pavard a break "to catch his breath" after his mediocre performance in the 4-1 win over Australia : "I never worry about my team. I believe in my boys. Statistics are there to be broken."
"Has the ability to decide games"
But that requires players like Mbappé. "What can I say? He's an extraordinary player in an extraordinary team. He has the ability to decide games," said Deschamps, with whom the striker has a close relationship. The coach even parried the trick question as to whether the rather quiet Mbappé was a leading player. "Yes, he's a leader," he said. "Kylian doesn't speak much but he leads the team on the pitch and always gives his all for the team. There are different types of leaders."
In the weeks and months before the World Cup, the French were rather annoyed by Mbappé, who had negotiated an almost immoral contract with Paris Saint-Germain. Only to be flirting internally with a change shortly afterwards. And it wasn't always easy with him in the national team either. But the absence of the injured Karim Benzema seems like a relief for him. The Ballon d'Or winner's massive presence always seemed to constrain him. Meanwhile, Deschamps assured "that his performances here have nothing to do with the fact that Karim is missing".
The Danes, who were still considered secret favorites before the tournament and who have equalized in the meantime through ex-Gladbacher Andreas Christensen (68th), are under pressure to win with one point from two games on Wednesday against Australia. However, coach Kasper Hjulmand recalled that his team still had zero points after two games in last year's European Championship, which was ultimately so successful, and still reached the semi-finals. "The starting point is clear: make it or break it," said Hjulmand. So all or nothing. "We have to beat Australia, we know that. But we are ready and we will show that on Wednesday."