English VAR rules out Xavi Simons goal for dubious offside as Netherlands and France share spoils

english var rules out xavi simons goal for dubious offside as netherlands and france share spoils

Xavi Simons believe his goal should have stood despite a team-mate in an offside position - Reuters/Lisi Niesner

The European Championship has finally, unfortunately suffered from that modern affliction – the controversial VAR call – and, of course, it just had to involve the English.

Not the football team but the Premier League match officials who ruled out a superb strike from Xavi Simons, deciding Denzel Dumfries was offside and impeding, to deny the Netherlands what would have been a famous victory over one of the tournament favourites, France.

Without Kylian Mbappe, who remained among the substitutes and was not risked, the French provided nowhere near enough of a threat. Their captain was absent having broken his nose in the narrow win over Austria and although he had a mask to protect him he was not brought on.

It was, instead, a bad night for Antoine Griezmann, who France were looking to for goals in Mbappe’s absence and who wasted two wonderful opportunities. Both could be deemed the misses of the tournament. It also means France have now failed to win any of the seven games Mbappe has not started during the past two years which underlines his supreme importance even more.

In truth they have little chance of winning the competition without him while coach Didier Deschamps believed it was not worth trying to get him on in an attempt to win the game. Instead Mbappe did not even warm up and puffed out his cheeks in disappointment at the end.

“With each day he is getting better and if it had been a decisive game this evening I would have thought twice about him playing or not,” Deschamps explained. “He has to wear a mask and that maybe changes his vision as well and there is a risk he will be taking. I thought the wiser decision was to keep him on the bench.”

english var rules out xavi simons goal for dubious offside as netherlands and france share spoils

Kylian Mbappe warmed up before the match in his mask but was not risked - Alex Pantling/UEFA via Getty Images

And so we had the first goalless draw at a Euros since England and Scotland failed to score at Wembley in 2021, 50 matches ago.

Not that the Dutch believe it should have been.

“I personally think that the goal should have stood,” coach Ronald Koeman said. “I think the position of Dumfries is offside. That’s true. But he isn’t disturbing the goalkeeper. And when that is not happening it is legal in my opinion. And you need five minutes to check it? I don’t believe it.”

His incredulity at the delay was shared but Koeman will not be seeking further explanation from Uefa.

“I asked the referee and he said it was offside,” he said. “But I saw the clip and after that I have my opinion about the legal goal but that was in the dressing room.”

The bulk of the anger was directed at VAR Stuart Attwell and, then, referee Anthony Taylor who had been told that Dumfries was offside and prevented France goalkeeper Mike Maignan from attempting a save after Simons had drilled a low shot into the corner of the net. The flag went up immediately from assistant referee Adam Nunn with Taylor disallowing the effort.

There certainly was an unnecessarily long delay, despite Attwell not asking Taylor to check the pitch-side monitor which he really should have done. The Dutch argued that Maignan was never going to get near Simons’ shot – which was true – and never attempted to do so. France will claim he simply could not even attempt it.

english var rules out xavi simons goal for dubious offside as netherlands and france share spoils

Attwell, of course, is no stranger to VAR controversy especially after Nottingham Forest launched an extraordinary social media attack on him in claiming they should have been awarded three penalties against Everton. Taylor, by the way, was the referee in that game. Forest even outed Attwell as a fan of Luton Town who were also in that relegation scrap. Hopefully the Dutch do not claim he has a soft spot for St Etienne.

Deschamps was having none of it. “No, it was disallowed,” he said emphatically. “The referees came together and decided the goalkeeper was impeded which was correct…I was quite taken aback by how long it took because when I saw the image on the screen it was a no-brainer.”

english var rules out xavi simons goal for dubious offside as netherlands and france share spoils

VAR sides with the onfield officials and rules out Simons' goal because Dumfries was deemed to be interfering with play - REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

It was not the only decision that caused debate. Inexplicably Adrien Rabiot, when through on goal and with Dutch goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen slow to react, chose to try and pass to Griezmann. He had so much time and space but messed up. The pass was poor but not as bad as the finish as Griezmann scuffed it badly.

If anything Griezmann’s second blunder was even worse as he was brilliantly picked out by the rejuvenated N’Golo Kante but somehow fell in a panic as he shot with Verbruggen allowed to turn it away for a corner. Griezmann was just a couple of yards out.

english var rules out xavi simons goal for dubious offside as netherlands and france share spoils

Griezmann slips when played through by Kante - AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Maignan had saved sharply from Cody Gakpo while Simons was the livewire for the Dutch – even if Koeman saw it differently as he substituted the 21-year-old, who was playing in what had been his home stadium for the past season after going on loan from Paris Saint-Germain to RB Leipzig. Koeman, who said it was a fair result despite the sense of injustice, declared Simons did not press and off he went immediately after the ‘goal’ was ruled out. It looked like another tough decision.

Netherlands 0 France 0 - as it happened, below

10:26 PM BST

Jason Burt’s verdict

10:16 PM BST

Tonight’s man of the match

10:01 PM BST

BBC pundits’ verdicts on VAR

Shearer: ‘France have been very fortunate. Look how wide the keeper’s legs are. He could not have dived there. And it took way too long.’

Rooney: ‘I think it was a goal. No way it should be disallowed. Very frustrating.’

Fabregas says that the VAR at least should have sent Taylor to the monitor to see for himself and allow him to make the final call.

09:56 PM BST

Full time: Netherlands 0 France 0

The first goalless draw of the tournament and a point each eliminates Poland. The draw is a fair result but Netherlands should still have won it but for a VAR error. France missed three good chances, two for Griezmann, one for Rabiot but that was there own fault. Netherlands losing their ‘goal’ was not their fault.

09:53 PM BST

90+4 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

The Dutch are in the left corner, trying to both hog possession and work an opening but then miscalculate and poke the ball out for a goal-kick.

09:52 PM BST

90+2 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Settling for a point now, writes he, trying to tempt fate.

09:51 PM BST

90 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Weghorst may not have had much to do in his primary role but makes an excellent, brave block. Five minutes of stoppage time to come.

09:48 PM BST

89 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Rabiot recovers to skip down the left beyond Reijnders and Veerman and has Coman free at the back post but it’s a rotten cross, bent ahead of his team-mate and Ake shoos it away.

09:47 PM BST

87 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Rabiot is hurt, dead legged as Dumfries fell on top of him.

09:46 PM BST

85 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

France are knocking the ball around, probing and then Hernandez pulls the trigger, chipping it into the box for Giroud’s right to left run. The veteran centre-forward, back to goal, tries to nod it back for Griezmann but Veerman has tracked the France forward and boots it away on the volley.

09:44 PM BST

82 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Nothing doing so far in finding Weghorst with crosses as both sides get tied up in midfield.

09:43 PM BST

80 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Once again we see indecision by Stuart Attwell in the role of VAR. That was a perfectly good goal and should have been allowed to stand.

The player is in an offside position but not interfering with the opponent whose vision may well be impaired by his own defenders.

The goalkeeper was not prevented from playing the ball. According to the law, interfering with an opponent by:

Preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision.

The Dutch player did not interfere with his opponent.

Let’s face it Taylor is performing well in this game and his VAR has let him down

09:39 PM BST

78 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

To a huge cheer – if only he were this popular in Lancashire – on comes the Supersub:

Weghorst ⇢ Depay.

09:38 PM BST

76 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Hernandez backpedals to head Depay’s floated free-kick behind for a corner. Just before the Dutch ‘goal’ Dembele had cut in off the right and leathered a rising shot that whistled over the bar. Deschamps was livid, cursing his luck with a stamp of the feet.

09:36 PM BST

74 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

A raft of substitutions:

Geertruida ⇢ Schouten

Veerman ⇢ Frimpong

Wijnaldum ⇢ Simons

Coman ⇢ Dembele

Giroud ⇢ Thuram.

09:33 PM BST

71 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Depay’s left-foot shot is saved by Maignan’s feet but popped back to Simons to the left of the D and he laced his shot into the bottom right corner. Yes Dumfries was offside but the keeper didn’t dive and he was not in Maignan’s way.

Stuart Attwell and Anthony Taylor rub the goal out. Seems like the wrong decision to me.

english var rules out xavi simons goal for dubious offside as netherlands and france share spoils

Simons puts the ball past Maignan - Clive Mason/Getty Images

It took them ages but Xavi Simons’ goal eventually ruled out as Dumfries was standing in an offside position and supposedly stopped the goalkeeper from diving. Even though he didn’t bother to try and dive because there was no way he was going to get to the ball as it was drilled into the bottom corner. That just does not feel right. Typically it is the English officials who have walked into a VAR storm.

09:31 PM BST

Offside

And typically the English officials make the wrong call.

09:30 PM BST

Typically the English officials

Take an age to sort out the VAR decision.

09:29 PM BST

GOAL!?

VAR check for a Simons goal to put Netherlands 1-0 up. Dumfries was offside but wasn’t blocking the keeper, it seems to me. Or in his eyeline.

09:27 PM BST

66 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

France are turning the screw, injecting some urgency into their passing and a driving run from Thuram and Dembele’s combination play gives Kante the opportunity to play the perfect ‘assist’ pass to Griezman, eight yards out on the right of the box. But his touch is heavy and he overbalances as he shoots, still directing it goalwards but without the power. Verbruggen makes a good save.

09:24 PM BST

64 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Tchouameni tracks Simons and seems to barge him over, catching him with his studs as both fell over. Oddly France get the free-kick.France go down the right and Kounde crosses to a packed box. Tchouameni leaps to meet it under challenge from De Vrij and steers it over from 15 yards. Good connection, poor direction.

He is a little raw and would need some polishing to become a success at the very top level but I love Xavi Simons’ attitude. Every time he gets the ball he wants to make something happen. Always looking to be positive, always dangerous. He must be horrible to defend against and France have resorted to some pretty crude fouls to halt him.

The question we are all asking, come on admit it, you are wondering if Kylian Mbappe is going to come on for France. I would be surprised if he did given it is only a few days since he broke his nose. If the Netherlands take the lead, it’s more liely, but surely France do not need to risk him otherwise?

09:21 PM BST

62 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Thuram wriggles through a gap and ends up by the right of the D but rakes his shot wide of the left post.

09:20 PM BST

60 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Kante makes another deep run, this one up the left and is found parallel with the 18-yard line. He turns away from goal and rolls it back to Tchouameni who shoots and makes a total horse of it, slicing it wildly out for a throw via a deflection.

09:17 PM BST

58 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

France spray the ball out to Kante who goes beetling off down the right and crosses. Rabiot steps in off the left and tries to half-volley a shot on goal with his swinger but slices his right-foot shot.

09:16 PM BST

56 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Dutch free-kick 22 yards out after a foul on Simons. Depay pulls rank to take and plants it straight into the wall, Thuram and Rabiot making a joint block.

The fans sing ‘Der, der, der, der Wout Weghorst’.

09:13 PM BST

53 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

First signs of Dutch incisiveness, at least with their passing, in balls out to Gakpo and Frimpong. But there’s no one in the box. Depay may have scored 45 international goals but he is playing his own game out there. Team headband.

I really am just waiting for Dutch midfielder Tijjani Reijnders to show a Memphis Depay style of petulance so I can call him Baby Reijnders.. there I have said it. In truth the AC Milan player has been excellent so far, especially when he gets the chance to run at France with the ball.

09:11 PM BST

51 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Best moment of a poor start to the second half comes with Saliba’s diagonal pass to beat the Dutch press, Kounde takes the ball on down the right but his low cross is hooked out by Dutch defender and Dembele picks it up on the right, cuts inside and lumps hois shot straight into  the pair of orange-socked shins of Van Dijk.

09:09 PM BST

49 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Frimpong is late into the tackle on Hernandez and boots him across the ball of his left ankle.

09:06 PM BST

47 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Dembele flies down the right and gives Ake a fright but the last tap of his dribble is leaden and the ball skips away and out for a goal-kick before he can get to the byline.

09:05 PM BST

46 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

No half-time changes. The camera lingers on Mbappé but cannot magic him on to the pitch.

09:02 PM BST

Half-time verdict

A really entertaining game, high on quality, low on goals so far. I would expect that to change in the second half because both teams are going for it, knowing they have the insurance policy of a win in their first group game.

The Netherlands are certainly in the game and have caused France problems. Saliba has been superb in the middle of the French defence though and I’ve been equally impressed by the Dutch ones too.

As my colleague Jason Burt has already said, both these sides look far more fluid and accomplished than Gareth Southgate’s England. Yes, I still haven’t got over how bad that performance against Denmark was last night.

08:50 PM BST

Half-time: Netherlands 0 France 0

France were the better side and created two good chances for Rabioy and Griezmann but as the match wore on the whole side lost its precision.

The Dutch are creating on the counter but can’t find the killer pass. They seem to be suffering from the yips when it comes to threading the ball through.

08:48 PM BST

45 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Just the minute of stoppage time has been signalled after Ake falls on the ball and handles it. Nothing comes from the free-kick.

08:47 PM BST

44 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Not everything should be seen through the prism of England… but we have seen more quality and intent and better football in the first 35 minutes of the Netherlands against France than probably the 180 minutes of England’s two group games so far. It feels like a heavyweight clash and both teams are going for it. The Dutch are taking risks with their high press – almost a 4-2-4 – and France should probably be ahead. But it is a wonderfully open game played in a raucous atmosphere of blue and orange.

Bizarre pocket of Dutch fans in among the French.

english var rules out xavi simons goal for dubious offside as netherlands and france share spoils

Orange island in a blue sea - Jason Burt

08:44 PM BST

42 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

The wall stands tall and Reijnders heads Griezmann’s shot over the bar. Griezmann is pelted by Dutch projectiles as he prepares to take the corner. When he kicks the four pint pots out of the road and crosses, Gakpo heads it away.

english var rules out xavi simons goal for dubious offside as netherlands and france share spoils

Griezmann tosses one of the empty pots away - REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

France goalkeeper Mike Maignan helping to direct where Antoine Griezmann should take a free-kick. Unusual, to say the least, for a goalkeeper to take up such a position. It didn’t work with Griezmann shooting straight into the wall.

english var rules out xavi simons goal for dubious offside as netherlands and france share spoils

Maignan helps out

08:42 PM BST

39 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Van Dijk catches Dembele 19 yards out, right of centre. Griezmann and Dembele stand over the free-kick.

08:41 PM BST

37 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Free-kick for France after De Vrij trips Dembele 30 yards from goal, left of centre, rather than risk him sprinting away.

The free-kick is stood up to the back post and flicked to Upamecano who makes a total Horlicks of his trap and squirts the ball out for a throw.

08:38 PM BST

35 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Simons wins the ball off Dembele and dribbles up the inside left then seems to be hit by a kind of panic as he snatches at his shot too early  when he had another couple of yards to go in front of Upamecano. And he scuffs it straight at Maignan who falls forward to smother it.

08:36 PM BST

33 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Gakpo misses a routine interception and the ball runs through to Dembele 25 yards out. He takes it on his left and dips his shoudler but Van Dijk reads what he’s trying to do and whips it off him.

08:34 PM BST

31 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

And another as Schouten and Griezmann race through the centre-circle, Schouten keeping pace with his runner who falls and the Dutchman is booked and France given a free-kick. Again, very little contact. Griezmann may be rolling back the years but he doesn’t have the acceleration of 10 years ago.

08:32 PM BST

29 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Griezmann given a free-kick on reputation when he miscontrols and Dunmfries snaps in to take it away. He barely touched him, if at all.

08:30 PM BST

27 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

The Dutch, who are playing a counter-attacking style, break with Gakpo receiving a pass from De Vrij and haring off down the left. He knocks it inside to Simons and gets it back 20 yards from goal. He does that short-stepping, stutter run thing which seems to presage a shot but then tries to bend it to the right of the box for Depay and gets the pass all wrong, Kante having covered the easier passing lane.

08:27 PM BST

24 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Kante and Rabiot stop a Reijnders thrust up the middle and the Dutch are penalised harshly by the referee Anthony Taylor when trying to win it back.

08:26 PM BST

21 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Rabiot overhits a cross from the left after more good work from Griezmann whose movement as a No10, rather than in the No8 role he’s been consigned to in recent years, has been impressive tonight. He’s rolling back the years.

08:21 PM BST

18 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Terrific save from Maignan low to his left to turn away Gakpo’s blistering daisycutter from 20 yards, fooling almost everyone by taking the shot on early. Great movement from Gakpo to step in off the left and impart such power with his instep.

english var rules out xavi simons goal for dubious offside as netherlands and france share spoils

Maignan bats away Gakpo's shot - REUTERS/Karina Hessland

08:19 PM BST

16 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Griezmann spends 10 seconds with his head in his hands but gets up and jogs back onside just as Thuram weaves through on the left. Griezmann feints to go to the ball then steps back to receive the pass to the left of the spot and he pirouettes to shoot with his left … just wide.

08:18 PM BST

14 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Oh my word!. Rabiot with the goal at his mercy after slipping between De Vrij and Ake down the inside right channel, spinning on to Thuram’s pass to give himself half an empty goal to shoot at. But he draws the keeper and then squares it to Griezmann who wasn’t expecting it and didn’t wants it. He slips as he tries to make a silk purse out of the sow’s ear.

english var rules out xavi simons goal for dubious offside as netherlands and france share spoils

Rabiot lays the ball off when through on goal - MOHAMED MESSARA/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

08:15 PM BST

12 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Excellent, tracking defensive run from Reijnders to get to Kounde’s cross in the nick of time to take it off Griezmann who was flexing his neck 15 yards out.

08:14 PM BST

10 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Dumfries is the beneficiary of a triangular passing move that earns him some space down the right but his cross is too deep for Depay and Kounde backpedals to head it over Gakpo as he ran in from the opposite wing.

english var rules out xavi simons goal for dubious offside as netherlands and france share spoils

Xavi Simons bombs upfield - ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images

08:12 PM BST

8 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

France’s full-backs are pushed high and both Tchouameni and Kante are dropping off to receive the ball from the centre-backs. Schouten’s pass allows Depay to turn it round the corner 20 yards out with his back to goal. Simons picks it up and tries to find Depay’s feet again after the centre-forward ran into the box. Depay leans into Saliba, looking to roll him and shoot but Saliba won’t let him move his hips to pivot and both lose their balance. Depay wants a penalty but it never was.

08:08 PM BST

6 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

The Dutch defend the corner competently, Van Dijk winning the header and then Upamecano knocks the ball forward and Van Dijk wins another header.

08:07 PM BST

4 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

France are playing 4-4-1-1 with Rabiot on the left wing and his lack of pace, compared with a winger, is evident when Thuram slips the ball down the inside left for him. Too many get back to cover so he lays it off to Griezmann instead of shooting himself and Griezmann’s 20-yard, dipping effort from the left is clawed over the bar by Verbruggen.

08:05 PM BST

2 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

The Oranje are in on goal with Frimpong turning on the afterburners to sprint away from Hernandez down the right but the Milan left-back does brilliantly to recover and get enough of a block on the shot to send it wide for a corner. Actually, scratch that. The replay shows it went through his legs and Maignan tipped it round the post.

Simons fouls Dembele when the corner comes in and France have a free-kick. Hernandez, who seemed to hurt himself in making that vital challenge, is OK.

08:03 PM BST

1 min: Netherlands 0 France 0

Netherlands kick off, attacking from right to left. Griezmann is playing behind Thuram.

08:02 PM BST

But first a minute’s applause for Uefa’s late general secretray

Gerhard Aigner, who died yesterday at the age of 80.

08:00 PM BST

I have been badly misinformed

France are in their away kit, paying tribute to Dominique Rocheteau et al from the 1978 side.

07:57 PM BST

Anthem time

La Marseillaise trumps almost everything. Het Wilhelmus is no match at all, though it is more lustily sung by the Dutch fans who outnumber the French by about four to one it seems.

07:55 PM BST

Netherlands’ shorts are orange too

Much prefer when they follow Roderick Spode and don the black shorts. Most prefer white.

07:55 PM BST

Out come the players

France have white tracksuit tops but underneath are in their home kit of blue, white and red. Holland are in oranje.

07:45 PM BST

Wayne Rooney is in Berlin tonight for the BBC

He gets a lot of stick for his retirement physique and accent from the unkind and pompous but listen to what he actually says and he is a very good pundit.

07:42 PM BST

Allez les Bleus – Hup Holland, Hup

english var rules out xavi simons goal for dubious offside as netherlands and france share spoils

France fan

english var rules out xavi simons goal for dubious offside as netherlands and france share spoils

Dutch fan in national costume and orange wig

07:25 PM BST

What colour is Leipzig?

07:23 PM BST

Who was that masked man?

english var rules out xavi simons goal for dubious offside as netherlands and france share spoils

Game face on - FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images

The France players have come out to warm-up. There is huge disappointment that Kylian Mbappé can only be named on the bench after breaking his nose against Austria. But at least he is out there – complete with face mask which he has just tied on as he walked out onto the pitch – which shows he will hopefully be involved. Mbappé may have trained on Thursday with a mask in the French colours but it is a much more sober all blue number that he is wearing this evening, in keeping with the shade of blue that is France’s home shirt which they are wearing. Mbappé has joined in the warm-up with the other substitutes which is encouraging news.

07:15 PM BST

Mbappe might be on the bench but that doesn’t mean he will play no part

No cape but his game mask is in his locker…

english var rules out xavi simons goal for dubious offside as netherlands and france share spoils

Mbappe's picture of his game mask

07:08 PM BST

Your teams in black and white

Netherlands  Verbruggen (Brighton); Dumfries (Inter), Van Dijk (Liverpool), De Vrij (Inter), Ake (Man City); Schouten PSV), Reijnders (AC Milan); Frimpong (Bayer Leverkusen); Simons (RB Leipzig), Gakpo (Liverpool); Depay (Atlético).

France  Maignan (AC Milan); Kounde (Barcelona), Upamecano (Bayern Munich), Saliba (Arsenal); T Hernández (AC Milan), Kanté (Al-Ittihad), Tchouameni (Real Madrid), Rabiot (Juventus); Dembélé (PSG), Griezmann (Atlético). Thuram (Inter).

06:58 PM BST

France team news

Mbappe doesn’t start. One change: Tchouameni in for Mbappe and Griezmann moves up front.

06:55 PM BST

Netherlands team news

One change: Frimpong for Veerman.

06:34 PM BST

This afternoon in Leipzig

06:19 PM BST

Having a wager?

Betting on the game? Take a look at these Euros betting offers and free bets.

06:18 PM BST

Win lose or draw, predict the score?

06:16 PM BST

Preview: Supersub and the man in a superhero mask

Good evening and welcome to live coverage of the Ballad of John & Yoko derby, between Holland and France. Yes, I know we have finally caved and started calling the Netherlands football team by their proper name but for years no coverage of the Briljant Oranje would be complete without a reference to Hup Holland Hup, what the fans called themselves and why we were sticking with that convention. It was nothing at all to do with the fact that it took less time to type during a hectic blog … but please forgive any lapses tonight.

Both sides won their first matches in Group D, the Dutch coming from 1-0 down to beat Poland 2-1 by virtue of goals from Cody Gakpo and Wout Weghorst. Ronnie Koeman’s side had dominated the match but their profligacy seemed to be damning them to a draw until old Supersub himself bailed them Wout with an 83rd-minute winner. France were equally careless in front of goal in their 1-0 victory over Poland, a match won by Max Wöber’s own goal and in which their twin glory boys, Kylian Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann, were both hurt, Mbappé having his nose splattered in a collision with Kevin Danso’s shoulder and Griezmann cutting his head when barged into an advertising hoarding by the aforementioned Wöber who seemed as if he was auditioning for a remake of the Bangville Police.

Mbappé, who has been training in a tricolor mask which Uefa says he will not be allowed to wear tonight as its regulations state medical devices worn onfield should be one colour only. If they risk him now, knowing that they still have Poland to play, he will have to go out in something less patriotic but is it worth it against centre-backs as physically robust as Stefan de Vrij, Virgil van Dijk and Nathan Ake? They’ve still got the warhorse Olivier Giroud who could start the match or Randal Kolo Muani, who scored in the World Cup semi and ‘won’ a penalty in the final. But Mbappé does seem keen to play.

Unusually these two sides were in the same qualification group, France finishing top after beating the ultimately second-placed Dutch 4-0 at home and 2-1 away, Mbappé scoring twice in each game. But Netherlands have a better head to head record in Euros finals. Having lost on penalties in the Euro 96 quarter-final, they fought back four years later on home solid to beat the world and imminent European champions 3-2 and hammered them 4-1 at Euro 2008 with goals from Dirk Kuyt, Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder. Marcus Thuram, the son of France’s captain that day, Lilian, will start on the wing for France and will hope that he and nine other team-mates can match the contribution of N’Golo Kante in Düsseldorf who was the first man in this competition to suggest the Saudi Pro League isn’t a luxury vets circuit.

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