Thriving Saudi Pro League stars show wider fault lines around Euro 2024

Cristiano Ronaldo and N’Golo Kanté are among the players thriving in Germany after a season in gentler waters

It’s the 85th minute of Austria’s opening group game against France, and with Austria striving for a late equaliser, Patrick Wimmer runs through on goal. Wimmer is 23 years old, rapid, and plays his football for Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga under the count of counter-pressing, Ralph Hasenhüttl. But as Wimmer puts on the burners, he has reckoned without a 33-year-old midfielder from – according to Opta – the world’s 26th best league.

Like an action hero chasing down a runaway train, N’Golo Kanté steams in and eats up the ground between Wimmer and himself. He claims the ball with his whirring legs, bringing the France bench to its feet in applause. Kanté was the player of the match on Monday night, having lasted the full 90 minutes. He hit a top speed of 21.4mph – second only to Kylian Mbappé – and covered 11.8km, more than any France player. “That’s why we brought him,” the France coach, Didier Deschamps, said afterwards. “He was brilliant.”

Continue reading…

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *