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Euro 2024 - Netherlands 0-0 France: Offside call controversially denies Xavi Simons as Kylian Mbappe sits out goalless draw

Report from Euro 2024 as the Netherlands drew 0-0 with France in the first goalless draw of the tournament after Xavi Simons had his goal controversially ruled out for offside. Kylian Mbappe did not feature in a game that confirmed Poland’s elimination

Xavi Simons celebrates after scoring a goal that was then disallowed for offside
Image: Xavi Simons celebrates after scoring a goal that was then disallowed for offside

Offside controversy took centre-stage in Kylian Mbappe's absence as the Netherlands and France drew 0-0 in Group D in Leipzig.

Xavi Simons thought he had given the Netherlands the lead late in the game only for the flag to go up on the grounds that Denzel Dumfries had impacted on the play. Anthony Taylor ruled it out with video assistant referee Stuart Attwell confirming the decision.

The call was highly debatable as the ball arrowed into the bottom corner with goalkeeper Mike Maignan seemingly unprepared to dive. But the English officials ruled it out as this much-anticipated game ended in the first goalless draw of the tournament.

Didier Deschamps' side had been on top in a game that otherwise failed to ignite without Mbappe, who remained on the bench following his broken nose. Antoine Griezmann had the best chances but could not find the finish.

The draw means that the Netherlands remain top of Group D, ahead of France on goal difference. Poland, who were beaten 3-1 by Austria earlier in the day, become the first nation to be eliminated from Euro 2024 as a consequence of the result.

Xavi Simons of the Netherlands, not seen, scores a disallowed goal
Image: Xavi Simons of the Netherlands, not seen, scores the controversially disallowed goal
Xavi Simons of the Netherlands, left, scores a goal that was disallowed due to offside
Image: Denzel Dumfries (22) was ruled to be interfering with the goalkeeper Mike Maignan

What do the Laws say?

According to the IFAB Laws of the Game:

A player in an offside position at the moment the ball is played or touched* by a team-mate is only penalised on becoming involved in active play by:

interfering with play by playing or touching a ball passed or touched by a team-mate or

interfering with an opponent by:

preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or

challenging an opponent for the ball or

clearly attempting to play a ball which is close when this action impacts on an opponent or

making an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball

*The first point of contact of the ‘play’ or ‘touch’ of the ball should be used.

Analysis: Saliba shines | More to come from France

Two games in for France and, thanks to that highly-debatable offside call against the Netherlands, two clean sheets for the tournament favourites. Arsenal's William Saliba has been a big factor in that, oozing class in the centre of the France defence.

An ideal foil for the physical Dayot Upamecano, those much-publicised comments by Deschamps alluding to weaknesses in Saliba's game only become more baffling after each performance. There cannot be many better defenders in European football.

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The underlying numbers better reflect France's control than that Simons moment. Against Austria, they registered an expected-goals total of 2.13 compared to their opponents' 0.76. Here, their total was 1.42 compared to their opponents' paltry 0.33.

At the other end, the goals will surely start flowing soon. Even without Mbappe, they created chances. Griezmann should have scored at least one, twice failing to find the finish from close range. One goal from two games does not tell the full story.

Either side of Saliba and Upamecano, the full-backs are rock solid and N'Golo Kante as impressive as ever in midfield. The forward players have not fired yet but the options in attack are plentiful. Expect Mbappe to have his day when the stakes are a little higher.

That might seem a generous interpretation after four points from two games - the same as England. But this side appears happier in its skin. Saliba has won over Deschamps. It would not be a surprise if the rest of France has followed suit by mid-July in Berlin.

Stats: Story of the match

So far in Group D...

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