Euro 2024

Austria v France: Back Mbappe to shine on the biggest stage

France and PSG striker Kylian Mbappe
Expect Kylian Mbappe to dominate les Bleus' attack

The Real Madrid-bound superstar will set the tone from the outset when France enter the fray on Monday night, writes James Eastham...

Austria vs France
Monday 17 June, 20:00
Live on ITV1

France an odds-on bet

It's difficult to argue with France's status as clear favourites ahead of their Euro 2024 opener v Austria.

Les Bleus are 1.574/7 to collect all three points in Dusseldorf, while Austria - many people's Dark Horses for the tournament - are 6.611/2. The Draw is 4.77/2 for those that think the game is likely to end in a stalemate.

France should win, but they've rarely shone in opening games of tourmaments since manager Didier Deschamps took charge more than a decade ago. At the 2014 and 2018 World Cups, and also at Euros 2016 and 2021, their margin of victory in their opening games was only one goal.

For that reason France are unappealing on the Asian Handicap. You can back les Bleus -1.0 & -1.5 at 2.35/4, but to make a profit you'd need them to win by two or more goals. For us, on this match, there's not enough evidence they're going to do that.

Mbappe to dominate in front of goal

Instead, the smartest bets ahead of this match are on France in some of the outright markets, and the first involves their star player. Kylian Mbappe has a point to prove after failing to score at Euro 2020, so we're expecting big things from him in Germany this summer.

He's already a World Cup Golden Boot winner and there are a couple of reasons to suspect France will be more even reliant than ever on him for goals. The first is that Olivier Giroud - France's all-time top goalscorer - is likely to start the tournament on the substitute's bench. Marcus Thuram, expected to start in Giroud's place, is a less prolific marksman, putting greater onus on Mbappe to score the goals.

The second is that France are expected to build their attack around Mbappe more than ever before. If, as predicted, Giroud starts the tournament on the bench, there'll be more opportunities for Mbappe to get into scoring positions in open play than there were at the Qatar World Cup 18 months ago because Giroud will no longer be dominating the penalty area.

Allied to the fact that the 25-year-old Real Madrid-bound marksman remains France's penalty-taker, it all points towards him topping France's scoring charts. Mbappe is 1/21.50 to do so, and those odds are worth taking. At first glance, they may appear short, but so many factors are stacked in his favour he's a good selection.

Les Bleus will drop points

Our second France bet is to back a trend that has emerged under Deschamps over the past decade. In five previous major tournaments under this manager, France have always failed to take maximum points in the group stage.

The reason is simple: if France win their opening two games and qualify for the knockout phase with a game to spare, Deschamps is likely to completely write off the third and final group match. He generally rotates heavily for that final fixture, and puts the back-up players under absolutely no pressure to win the match. The pattern is stark: at major tournaments, three of France's final five group games under Deschamps have ended in 0-0 draws (vs Ecuador, Denmark, and Switzerland), while at the World Cup 18 months ago, France actually lost their final group match, 1-0 against Tunisia.

To profit from this trend, we recommended backing France to collect 6 points (10/34.33) and 7 points (5/23.50) in Group D. By splitting your stakes across these two outcomes, you'll make a profit if one of them comes in.

Now read the rest of our Euro 2024 content here!

Listen to Football Only Bettor Monday Tips...

Recommended bets

New Customers can get £50 in free bets!

Available to new customers only. Place a £10 bet on the Betfair Sportsbook and you will receive £50 in free bets to use on Bet Builders and Accas! Opt-in here and T&cs apply.

Prices quoted in copy are correct at time of publication but liable to change.