Qualified for the quarter-finals of Euro 2022, Les Bleues fulfilled a first contract by finishing at the top of a group within their reach. There are several lessons to be learned in view of the clash against the Netherlands on Saturday (9 p.m.).
The French team has held its rank. Favorite of group D composed of Italy, Belgium and Iceland, the Blue qualified without difficulty for the quarter-finals of their seventh Euro. A few days before the big meeting against the Netherlands (Saturday at 9 p.m.), here are the lessons to be learned from the first round.
• An almost perfect balance sheet
With a group well within reach, France had to refuel from an accounting point of view. After two victories against Italy (5-1) and Belgium (2-1), Corinne Deacon’s players came close to perfection but were held back by Iceland after 100 minutes of play and a questionable penalty (1- 1). Without consequence, since the Habs had already secured their ticket to the quarter-finals in the second match against the Belgians. As in 2013 and 2017, the French team will therefore see the European top 8 after finishing at the top of their group, all without losing a single match.
• A perfectible game
If all goes well from an accounting point of view, the way is still perfectible. So brilliant for 45 minutes against Italy in the first match, Les Bleues flouted their football against the Belgians and delivered an unequal game against Iceland, after a large turnover from Corinne Deacon. A common point between the first three games: a thunderous start, punctuated by a goal in the first ten minutes, with Geyoro (9th) against the Azzurre, Diani (6th) against the Red Flames and Malard (after 43 seconds) against the Icelanders.
The black spot is in the second half, where Wendie Renard’s teammates failed to score a single goal (against eight in the first act), and conceded two (out of three). “The main thing is to score one goal more than the opponent,” Corinne Deacon tempered after this last match.
• A defense to stabilize
With no clean sheet since the start of the tournament, the tricolor defense is experiencing difficulties. While captain Wendie Renard played all three games, she was paired twice with Aïssatou Tounkara and once with her OL team-mate Griedge Mbock. During the group stage, the pair of axials showed feverishness in certain interventions but also in the raises.
Performances diametrically opposed to other leaders in the competition, such as Germany and England, who have still not conceded a goal. By way of comparison, the Bleues remained on five goals taken in the last 14 games, having notably played against Germany, the Netherlands and Brazil.
• An inspired but ineffective attack
Marie-Antoinette Katoto’s orphan for the rest of the competition, the Les Bleues attack is full of good reserves. If Ouleymata Sarr replaced the Parisian at short notice in the first two games, it was Melvine Malard who was chosen against Iceland to occupy the position of number 9. Real choice or simple squad rotation for the quarter of final? The future will tell.
With eight goals in three games, including five in 45 minutes against Italy, the French attack is in good shape and combines well. But a defect remains: the lack of efficiency. Against Iceland, there were plenty of opportunities to make the break. Admittedly, two goals were disallowed, including one for Geyoro on a questionable hand fault. This black point was also highlighted by Corinne Deacon at a press conference.
“We will have to be more efficient. If we could score on each of our chances, I’ll sign right away… Afterwards, it’s already important to create chances. Sometimes in football, we say to ourselves ‘we can’t to score’, but without a chance it’s not possible. We have the advantage of being a team that is moving forward, with a lot of willing players, and we are creating a lot of chances. Now we have to be effective.”
• Some players scored points, others less
The first three matches saw 20 of the 23 players taken to England. Besides goalkeepers Mylène Chavas and Justine Lerond, only Hawa Cissoko has not played a single minute yet. Some of them scored points, like Clara Matéo. Substitute against Italy, the Paris FC player started the next two games as torchbearer and showed her ability to make her teammates shine, as evidenced by her two assists.
Another satisfaction on the tricolor side: the performance of Melvine Malard at the forefront. Coming into play on the side in the first two games, the Lyonnaise scored after 43 seconds of play on Monday and knew how to exploit the little ball she had to put in her mouth. Maximum efficiency which contrasts with Ouleymata Sarr, the other player who can replace Katoto. The PFC forward appeared to struggle in front of goal and conceded the penalty on Monday.
In defense, Aïssatou Tounkara again showed signs of feverishness against Iceland, especially with a few risky raises. Sometimes hesitant in the duels, she did not release a great serenity, bringing in spite of herself all the defense.