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France aims to stamp authority with early win against Austria at Euro 2024

DUESSELDORF, Germany: After a shocking round of 16 exit from Euro 2020 and finishing as runners-up on home soil in 2016, France is looking to make a decisive statement against an in-form Austria on Monday. Les Bleus, having clinched nearly every major football accolade multiple times, have not won the European Championship in over two decades. Manager Didier Deschamps is on his second attempt to become the first person to win both the World Cup and the Euros as a player and a coach.

While Austria has traditionally been a manageable opponent for France, their resurgence under German manager Ralf Rangnick poses a new challenge. Rangnick has instilled confidence and resilience in the team, losing only once in their last 16 matches. Despite Austria’s recent form, history favors France, who have won nine out of their last ten encounters.

France’s veteran striker, Olivier Giroud, playing in his last European Championship at 37, emphasized the importance of a strong start in their Group D opener in Düsseldorf. “We tend to say that it is not a decisive match, but it is an important match,” Giroud stated. “It can put you in a good position and once again manage the last two matches better… by losing this first match, you are obliged almost to win the other two.”

France’s biggest obstacle might be themselves, as seen in their dramatic exit from Euro 2020 where they squandered a two-goal lead and lost on penalties to Switzerland. A recent bout of flu within the squad has also raised concerns, with star forward Kylian Mbappe missing training briefly last week. However, Mbappe is back and eager to score his first European Championship goal against Austria.

Austria’s transformation under Rangnick, marked by tactical astuteness and an aggressive, high-pressing game, is expected to test France’s mettle. With the Netherlands and Poland also in Group D, an early win could provide the momentum France needs to navigate the tournament’s challenging landscape.

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