After the fireworks against Italy, Corinne Deacon’s France can celebrate the national holiday with a qualification for the quarterfinals of the Women’s Euro, from Thursday (9:00 p.m.) by beating Belgium, a necessary step but not sufficient for clarify the future of the breeder.
On the pitch, the calculation is simple: a victory in Rotherham against the “Red Flames”, the least rated opponent in their group, would allow the Blues to join the top 8, like England and Germany, even before their last game against Iceland.
And if their Italian victims, crunched 5-1 on Sunday, did not lose against the Icelanders on Thursday, first place in Group D would already be assured. Finishing at the top of the pool theoretically ensures a more accessible table.
“We are like on the eve of the first match: concentrated, determined and applied,” assured captain Wendie Renard on Wednesday. “What I especially want to see again are goals,” said Corinne Deacon, satisfied with the “state of mind” of her players who are “fighting”.
So far, all the lights are green for France, launched like a hurricane in this European Championship and preserved from any injury among its workforce, yet not spared by these inconveniences before the start of the tournament.
Wendie Renard (quadriceps) and Sakina Karchaoui (thigh) overcame their physical glitches to launch their Euro perfectly, Grace Geyoro swept away the memory of her sprained knee with a hat-trick against Azzurre and Kadidiatou Diani, despite twisting her ankle, feasted on her right wing.
– Desired stability –
Wednesday afternoon, training took place in the presence of the 23 players, the day after a tactical implementation which suggests a starting lineup similar to that chosen against Italy.
Deacon had pent up joy after the initial success, like her players. But she was more relaxed and talkative than usual, as if freed from a weight.
Its president Noël Le Graët has something to do with it. The boss of the French Football Federation made sure to ease the pressure around the one he named in August 2017, after the Euro missed by Olivier Echouafni’s Bleues.
His contract, which expires after the final on July 31, “will surely be renewed, until the end of the World Cup at least” next summer, said the Breton leader on France 2 last week.
The announcement and its timing may have come as a surprise because the head of the “3F”, who set the “last four” of the Euro as a minimum objective, had always refused to comment on this subject.
“We had already talked about it a little bit before, we don’t improvise like that. We can’t change all the time,” he insisted on Sunday with L’Equipe and AFP, referring to a streak of 14 “very impressive” victories before the competition.
– A non-event, really? –
The day before the match, the person concerned also shot down the non-event card.
“He recently announced it to you (the media, editor’s note), but we’ve been talking about it for a while. There was no surprise effect on me. In any case, I’ll tell you again : my personal case does not matter today”, she replied to Canal +.
The pens may have already been released, but the official signature remains conditioned following the course. Passing the course of the quarter-finals, where France has failed five times in a row in a major tournament (Euro-2013, Mondial-2015, JO-2016, Euro-2017, Mondial-2019), is not acquired d advance with regard to possible adversaries.
Le Graët also blew hot, then cold, about the contract extension.
Will Deacon be present at the Mondial-2023, regardless of the result at the Euro? “No, no, we’re still discussing. Whatever the contract, it’s never done until it’s signed,” he also slipped to AFP on Sunday.
In 2017, France was also considered one of the favorites of the competition, given its status as the 3rd nation in the world and its series of invincibility before the tournament. Despite the disappointing elimination in the quarterfinals, Echouafni had first been maintained by Le Graët, “someone who was very involved in this team”… before being landed a month later.