Brodie Retallick wins second-row start for New Zealand in World Cup final

By Sports Desk October 26, 2023

Brodie Retallick has won the vote to start in the second-row for New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup final against South Africa.

Retallick comes in for Sam Whitelock in the only change from the All Blacks side that overpowered Argentina 44-6 in the semi-final last Friday.

Whitelock replaced Retallick against Argentina but now moves to the bench for Saturday’s final at the Stade de France in Paris.

The 35-year-old Whitelock will become the first man to play in three World Cup finals, should he come off the bench.

Tight-head prop Nepo Laulala replaces Fletcher Newell on the All Blacks bench.

Brothers Scott, Jordie and Beauden Barrett all feature in the starting XV, which openside flanker Sam Cane captains.

The All Blacks, like South Africa, are chasing a record fourth title after triumphs in 1987, 2011 and 2015.

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    France have confirmed that Kylian Mbappe suffered a broken nose against Austria on Monday but will not need surgery on the injury.

    Les Bleus were able to hold onto a 1-0 victory over Ralf Rangnick's side, courtesy of a first-half own goal by Max Wober, who turned in Mbappe's cross.

    However, the France captain was involved in an aerial collision with Kevin Danso, hitting his face on the defender's shoulder, and needed lengthy treatment before being forced off in the final minute of normal time.

    The French Football Federation (FFF) confirmed on Tuesday that Mbappe had broken his nose and would need to wear a mask for the rest of the Euros but no update was given on whether he would be available for their game against the Netherlands on Friday.

    "He has returned to the base camp of the French team," the FFF said.

    "He will undergo treatment in the coming days, without undergoing surgery immediately."

    Mbappe also took to social media, seeing the bright side to his injury, with a post on X saying: "Any ideas for masks?"

    The 25-year-old, who has scored 47 goals in 80 appearances for France, is still yet to find the back of the net at the Euros.

    He has had 18 shots at the European Championships without converting, while he registered 12 goals from 39 attempts at the World Cup.

  • Mbappe injury leaves Deschamps concerned after France's Euro 2024 triumph Mbappe injury leaves Deschamps concerned after France's Euro 2024 triumph

    Kylian Mbappe suffering a late head injury marred France's Euro 2024 victory over Austria as Didier Deschamps was left concerned about the Les Bleus star.

    The Real Madrid-bound attacker sustained a blow to his nose after an aerial challenge with Austria's Kevin Danso before Mbappe was withdrawn on Monday.

    France held on for a 1-0 victory in Dusseldorf to move level with fellow Group D leaders Netherlands, but Deschamps will have to sweat over Mbappe's fitness before facing Ronald Koeman's men on Friday.

    "[His] nose is not good at all," the France head coach, who hit 100 wins in charge of his country with the victory over Ralf Rangnick's side, told reporters.

    "Even if it's just the nose, it's the big negative point for us tonight."

    Mbappe missed a gilt-edged opportunity in the second half as his wait for a European Championship goal continued.

    The former Paris Saint-Germain man remains without a goal from a total of 18 shots in the tournament, while he has registered 12 strikes from 39 attempts at the World Cup.

    Mbappe played the cross in for Max Wober's decisive first-half own-goal, however, as the centre-back's inadvertent error proved the difference in the pair's tournament opener.

    France are the first European side at major tournaments (World Cup/Euros) to benefit from 10 own-goals, four more than any other side – Germany are the next best on six.

    Deschamps was still satisfied with Les Bleus' work, though acknowledged their failure in front of goal.

    "Happy with what the players did even if we missed opportunities to double the tally," he added. "It was not perfect but we were solid.

    "We could have been more efficient offensively but it's good to start with a win.

    "There's quality and talent but being solid and working together is also important. We're not going to be over-confident, but it's a good start."

    N'Golo Kante was named as the Player of the Match after his efficient display in midfield, having only returned to the international setup for this tournament after a two-year absence.

    No France player made more successful tackles than Kante's two (level with Jules Kounde), while the midfielder's pair of interceptions marked the most for Les Bleus.

    "Everything was not perfect but we have the result we wanted, this is a good start," Kante said. "There are solid foundations, we have to be more efficient.

    "It makes me happy to be back. Things have changed, makes it feels good to get back into this jersey."

    The defeat ended a run of seven games without a loss for Austria in all competitions (W6 D1), while it was only their second reverse in their last 17 matches (W12 D3).

    Yet former Manchester United boss Rangnick refused to point the blame at any of Austria's players.

    "We are all very disappointed... we allowed France to go ahead, they didn't shoot their goal, it was an unlucky own goal by us," Rangnick said.

    "I think no one can accuse the team of not being engaged enough, not running enough. They gave their everything.

    "They didn't always make the right decisions with the ball. But it isn't easy, the French were aggressive, and played compactly and that wasn't a surprise."

  • Euro 2024 data dive: Mbappe's wait rolls on as Lukaku rues his luck Euro 2024 data dive: Mbappe's wait rolls on as Lukaku rues his luck

    France got their Euro 2024 campaign up and running with a 1-0 victory over Austria on Monday.

    That came after Slovakia had stunned Belgium by the same scoreline.

    Elsewhere, Romania were big winners against Ukraine.

    With the use of Opta data, we take a look at the standout statistics from day four at Euro 2024.

     

    Austria 0-1 France: More Euros frustration for Mbappe 

    Kylian Mbappe's quick feet did for Austria's defence in Dusseldorf, as the soon-to-be Real Madrid forward beat his man and whipped in a ball that was inadvertently turned home by Maximilian Wober.

    That proved to be the decisive moment for Les Bleus, though Mbappe could have put an entertaining contest to bed midway through the second half, only to miss when one-on-one with the Austria goalkeeper, from a chance that registered a 0.6 expected goals (xG) value.

    Mbappe remains without a goal from a total of 18 shots at the European Championships, while he has registered 12 goals from 39 shots at World Cups, and to compound his frustration, he appeared to suffer a broken nose in a challenge with Kevin Danso late on.

    France got over the line, though. Their coach Didier Deschamps has now won 100 matches in charge of Les Bleus, (D30 L24), 59 more than any other manager (41 wins under both Michel Hidalgo and Raymond Domenech).

    Les Bleus have won their sixth consecutive opening game of a major tournament, the longest current run of any European side.

    Austria, meanwhile, saw a run of seven games without a loss (W6 D1) come to an end. It was only a second loss in their last 17 matches (W12 D3) for Ralf Rangnick's team.

    France are the first European side at major tournaments to benefit from 10 own-goals, four more than any other side (Germany next best on six).

    Deschamps fielded France's youngest starting XI at the European Championships (27y 273d) since June 26th 2012 against Spain (27y 079 d).

    At the other end of the spectrum, veteran Olivier Giroud came on from the bench to play at his seventh major tournament.

    Romania 3-0 Ukraine: No possession, no problem

    Romania earned just their second win at the Euros (D5 L10), and they did it in style by thrashing Ukraine. In fact, this was their biggest-ever victory at a major international tournament. 

     

    The victory came with Romania recording just 29 per cent of the possession. That is the lowest share for a winning team on record (since 1980) in a single match at the European Championships.

    Nicolae Stanciu got things started with a stunner. He became the first player ever to score at the European Championships while playing for a Saudi Arabian club (Damac).

    Excluding own goals, Romania had three different goalscorers (Stanciu, Razvan Marin, Denis Dragus) for the fourth time in a match at a major tournament, also doing so against Peru (1930 World Cup), Cuba (1938 World Cup) and England (Euro 2000).

    Dennis Man, meanwhile, is the first Romanian to provide multiple assists in a major tournament match since Gheorghe Hagi against Colombia at the 1994 World Cup.

    Ukraine, on the other hand, extended their record of most games played at the Euros without keeping a single clean sheet (12). They have also failed to score in 67 per cent of their games at the competition (8/12), the highest rate of any nation to take part in more than one edition.

    Belgium 0-1 Slovakia: Bang out of Luk

    Romelu Lukaku was guilty of missing several gilt-edged chances, while also being frustrated by VAR, as Belgium suffered a shock loss to Slovakia in Group E's other match.

    Belgium missed four Opta-defined big chances in this match, the first time they’d done so in a European Championship game since 1980 against Spain (also four missed), as Slovakia held on after Ivan Schranz's goal in the seventh minute, which was the quickest goal Slovakia have scored at a major tournament.

    While Slovakia have won each of their last four competitive internationals, their best winning run in competitive games since a run of five between October 2016 and September 2017, Belgium suffered their first group stage defeat at the European Championships since going down 2-0 to Italy in 2016.

    Kevin De Bruyne did not have his best game, though still created four chances, taking his overall total of opportunities created at the Euros to 40. Since 1980, only Luis Figo (42) and Cristiano Ronaldo (41) have crafted more chances at the finals.

    Jeremy Doku was at fault for Slovakia's goal, though he did his best to make up for it going the other way, completing six dribbles to put the opposition on the back foot.

    Across the last two editions of the Euros, there have only been four instances of a player completing six or more dribbles in a match, and two of those have been Doku.

    Slovakia's defensive grit, and a little bit of luck, got them through in the end.

    They named three players in the starting XI who were 35 or older – Peter Pekarik (37), Juraj Kucka (37) and Martin Dubravka (35). Slovakia are only the second nation in European Championships history to do so, along with France in 2008. 

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