Taking a penalty in a shootout is meant to be easy.
It looks like you could do it with your eyes closed, but even superstars can miss – just ask Kylian Mbappe.
The world’s best young player and heir to the throne of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo turned away in agony after missing the fifth spot kick for France in their Euro 2020 Round of 16 defeat, his shot comfortably saved by Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer.
This was a star-studded French team that bookies and fans alike had picked to hoist the trophy, but they crashed out in diabolical circumstances in a tournament during which star man Mbappe had just as many issues off the pitch as he did on it.
Mbappe came out and apologised on social media later that evening after the miss, having done so earlier in private to his teammates.
It was a rare showing of humility for a player that teammates and fans have accused of being arrogant and obnoxious, especially with his constant showboating in matches played for Paris Saint-Germain.
Mbappe was meant to be the face of this tournament. He was just a teenager when he stole the show in the 2018 World Cup final with two goals, but at the Euros Mbappe had no goals and a single assist in four games, with France winning just once in their short stay.
From a stats point of view it was an abysmal tournament for Mbappe; however, upon closer examination he was involved in a lot of good moments for the french.
Mbappe was full of running against Germany, passed on the best chance of the match against Hungary and won a penalty against Portugal all in the group stage.
The Round of 16 match against Switzerland saw Mbappe lay on an assist as well as a sublime back heel in a move that led to a later goal in extra time, though he had a chance to score and skewed a shot with his weaker left foot when he could’ve gone on his right.
After the disappointing loss tensions flared in the box of the French family members when Veronique Rabiot, who is the mother of french player Adrien Rabiot, angrily told Mbappe’s father, Wilfried, to speak with his son because he was too arrogant, selfish and not a team player.
One of the tournament’s biggest flare-ups, though, involved Mbappe and teammate Olivier Giroud. Giroud had made an off-the-cuff comment to reporters – “Sometimes you make the runs and ball is not arriving. Perhaps we could have found each other better, there it is” – which Mbappe took as a personal insult.
So incensed by Giroud’s comments was Mbappe that he wanted to attend a press conference to defend and clear his name, even though Giroud never mentioned or alluded to him in any way, shape or form.
Another factor in Mbappe’s petulance this tournament was losing his best friend Ousmane Dembele to the tournament through a serious injury that left him isolated in the dressing room by all reports.
Mbappe seemed like he had a lot on his mind this tournament, quite possibly his contract situation with club side PSG is clouding his thoughts.
His lucrative deal is due to expire at the end of next season, and Mbappe has been hesitating in signing an extension.
But with COVID affecting the elite European club’s spending, he may have no option but to wait to break the world transfer record and agree to an extension for the time being.
Right now Mbappe is public enemy No. 1 in France after his various meltdowns at the Euros. But the Prince of Paris is young enough to recover from this setback, and the dent to his ego might help him grow not only as a player but as a person.