Didier Deschamps tore into Kylian Mbappe after France’s first game at World Cup 2018

Didier Deschamps Kylian Mbappe
(Image credit: Getty Images)

France struggled during their opening match of the 2018 World Cup, only managing to narrowly defeat Australia 2-1 via an Antoine Griezmann penalty and an Aziz Behich own goal. 

While the three points they picked up set them on their way to World Cup glory that summer, France manager Dider Deschamps wasn't happy at all with his players in the dressing room afterwards - especially Kylian Mbappe.

Still only 19-years-old at the time, Deschmaps tore into the forward for his lacklustre performance in a bid to extract a positive reaction from him for later in the tournament. 

In a feature written by French journalist Julien Laurens in the latest issue of FourFourTwo available to order, multiple people recount the scenes in the dressing room after France only narrowly managed to overcome Australia.

“I’d never seen Deschamps like that before, calling out one player in front of the whole squad – and especially Kylian,” recounts one player who was in the room but would rather remain anonymous. 

“Deschamps was so cross. He criticised the whole team and the performance, but clearly he wanted to go harder on Kylian and send him a message. And he sure did. We were quite surprised. After that, we all wanted to see Kylian’s reaction. 

“For us in the squad, there was no doubt that Kylian would be dropped for the Peru game,” says Mbappe’s mystery team-mate. 

However, Mbappe wasn't dropped. The PSG forward bagged the only goal of the game to ensure France progressed to the last-16 of the tournament in Russia, something his manager was especially pleased of.

“All we wanted to see was how he’d react from the telling off he got from the manager a few days before. Boy, did we see…” Philippe Tournon, France’s head of media at the 2018 World Cup, vividly remembers the video analysis scene. 

“Didier was tough with Kylian – he had to be,” he tells FFT. “All he wanted was to make him react, to hurt his pride almost, in front of everyone to get a better Kylian in the next game and in the rest of the competition. The move could have backfired, but Deschamps knew what he was doing and it worked."

It sure did. France went onto win the tournament, aided by a further three goals from Mbappe in the knockout rounds to announce himself on the world stage. 

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Ryan Dabbs
Staff writer

Ryan is a staff writer for FourFourTwo, joining the team full-time in October 2022. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before eventually earning himself a position with FourFourTwo permanently. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer while a Trainee News Writer at Future.