France travel to Ukraine without the injured Kylian Mbappe after their unexpected 1-1 draw at home to Bosnia and Herzegovina. While it is not exactly panic stations for the world champions, there are definite signs that the issues which plagued them during UEFA Euro 2020 this summer have not gone away as they sit four points clear of the Ukrainians at the top of Group D.
Mbappe's return to Paris Saint-Germain to treat his calf problem is one less headache for Didier Deschamps with the 22-year-old once again unrecognizable at international level in Strasbourg compared with his prominent club performances. It is up to Deschamps and his players to do without Mbappe and the suspended Jules Kounde of Sevilla with RB Leipzig's Nordi Mukiele since added to the group and Olivier Giroud unavailable due to a positive COVID-19 test with AC Milan.
Here is how you can watch the match and what to know:
- Date: Saturday, Sept. 4 | Time: 2:45 p.m. ET
- Location: Olimpiyskiy -- Kyiv, Ukraine
- Live Stream: ESPN+
- Odds: UKR +550; Draw +280; FRA -188 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Ukraine: Solid but unspectacular in qualification, the hosts have drawn all four of their matches and that is enough to sit second. Finland are two points further back but have two games in hand and face bottom side Kazakhstan earlier on Saturday. While another draw would not be ideal for Ukraine, the point would be useful as interim coach Oleksandr Petrakov continues to adapt to his squad.
The French continue to look labored, and the attack appears to be particularly stymied. Mbappe's absence might make things less forced this international break but the issue of him not scoring a competitive goal at international level since mid-2019 continues to linger and neither Antoine Griezmann nor Karim Benzema are gelling particularly well so far.
France should get the win, but it will likely be a tight affair. Les Bleus are making a meal of a relatively straightforward group and it would not be a total shock if they are held to another draw. Pick: Ukraine 1-2 France.