French Star N’Golo Kante Shines In Euro 2016 Opener


Euro 2016 started off with a bang last night as hosts France finally saw off Romania’s challenge in the Championship’s opener, with Dimitri Payet scoring a screamer in the last minute to secure the victory.

Payet was the hero, he was the subbed off to a standing ovation and cried tears of joy as he headed to the French dugout. The surprise show of emotion showed just how much pressure the Les Bleus squad have been under with the expectation to put on a good show and win the game in Paris.

But for all the creative genius Payet showed against the Romanians, for me, it was Leicester City’s N’Golo Kante that stole the show with his well drilled disciplined performance.

Kante reminds me of a good, understated French red wine. He’s smooth, has an impact and can set the night off.

As the French team started with nerves and allowed Romania to have two chances from early corners, it was the holding midfielder that showed a coolness and a composure that allowed his teammates to settle into the game.

At the moment you’ll be hard pushed to find a better holding midfielder in the world. The French number five rarely gave the ball away when in possession. But it’s when he’s not got the ball that he makes his biggest impact as he continually won it back by either making an impeccable challenge or intercept any suspicious through balls. Time and again N’Golo would frustrate Romanian attackers as he snuffed out danger at it’s source.

As a shield for your defence you have to work hard and can’t go hiding. No one can ever accuse Kante of hiding or not giving his all. I’m pretty sure he covered every blade of grass last night and would always be available for the pass if someone in his side didn’t want the ball.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, not since Claude Makelele have we seen a holding player have such a positive influence for both his club and national sides.

I wasn’t the only one that had noticed Kante’s greatness. Gary Linker took to Twitter to show his appreciation:

Kante Lineker

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, working as a pundit for beIN Sports, also heaped praise on his compatriot:

‘He has incredible quality,’

‘He feels the game, only very few people can do that. He’s always where he needs to be.’

If France do indeed go on and take this title, as many have predicted, then they will need N’Golo Kante to perform to his own high standards in each and every game. He showed in Leicester’s Premier League title winning campaign last season that he has wonderful durability and consistently reaches top marks, so it all bodes well for Les Blues.

His determination and effectiveness will need to be complimented by the creative expertise that Payet, Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann can provide. West Ham star Payet was the one that stepped forward last night. Number nine Oliver Giroud is a battler that will keep getting on the end of chances and will hope to put a few more of them away.

One cautious note from last night was the performance of Patrice Evra. The Juventus left back looked to be the weak-link and was found out of position a few times. His miss-timed challenge in the area that gave Romania their penalty, was needless and worrying. What ashame that PSG have stalled the careers of both Lucas Digne and Layvin Kurzawa.

But getting back to N’Golo Kante. It is crazy to think that he didn’t win his first French international cap until March of this year and that he probably wouldn’t have played last night if Lassana Diarra had remained fit. Yet now we can’t imagine this French side without him in that holding role and allowing the team to play with so much freedom.

What a player! Magnifique!

One Response to “French Star N’Golo Kante Shines In Euro 2016 Opener”

  1. […] his wonderful form for West Ham onto the international stage with France, with the 29-year-old taking Euro 2016 by storm through fantastic performances and wonderful […]

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