The most superstitious speaks of a curse. Some start to find the time (too) long. Everyone is wondering if, facing its repeated incompetence for ten years, and the 2012 Olympics, to reach the quarter-finals of a major international event, the French women’s football team will finally see the ingredients that allow him to break down what seems like a glass ceiling.
Saturday July 23, under the glass roof of the New York Stadium in Rotherham (England), the French finally broke the bad sign by defeating the Netherlands (1-0) and qualifying for the semi-finals of the Euro.
“The girls don’t stop and I think it’s beautiful. Perseverance paid off tonight.” summed up, comforted, the coach of the Blue Corinne Deacon at the end of the game. It is necessary, in this case, to go after an overtime period, the score remaining empty (0-0) at the end of the regulation time.
But the result is there: after three consecutive failures at the gates of the semi-final of a Euro (2009, 2013, 2017), today July 23 will remain a historic night for the national women’s team that won, moreover, against the defending champions.
In Blue since 2011, Wendie Renard, competing in her third European championship, sets the tone: “The past is part of my story but also a choice. And it is with us that we change it. We must be together, have fun too, play, let go. »
Corinne Deacon chose to renew the same eleven that defeated Italy in the first game (5-1). “France is the favorite. A team with this much quality should at least fight for the title in every major final round”, planned before the game for The world Dutch international Anouk Dekker, winner of Euro 2017, but absent for this Euro.
“I think they will approach it like against Italy and that we will have a more dynamic game”, Camille Abily said before the meeting. The former international with 183 caps is right.
The Tricolores could have more effectively avoided the cold sweat and thirty extra minutes, but the third country of FIFA was able to claim its status. From the first moments, the French showed consistency, taking the Dutch midfielder by the throat, recognized as one of the best in the world.
Selma Bacha, the payer chosen by Corinne Deacon
The famous “synergy” which Corinne Deacon evoked at the end of the inaugural recital against the Transalpines resurfaced at the best time, against a reduced Batavian team, without Lieke Martens and the titular goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal, injured, and with Vivianne Miedema , the star of the Dutch team, in bad shape, after contracting Covid-19.
Despite an overwhelming dominance (33 shots to 9), the lack of success of the French, with three clear chances in the first period, with a shot on the post by Delphine Cascarino and two save the line of Van de Gragt, can revive the old souls of previous editions. Especially when Wendie Renard prayed to heaven when her header from a corner was deflected by Daphne van Domselaar at the end of the match (93e.
But a new breath was found at the mark of time, when the coach chose to launch Selma Bacha in place of Melvine Malard, marking the beginning of a tactical reorganisation, with Kadidiatou Diani forward and Delphine Cascarino on the right.
Selma Blacha continues to multiply centers and achievements. The Lyonnaise, elected player of the match, was also the source of what should have been a victory if Grace Geyoro had not missed the inevitable with a header in front of the opposing goal (88e)
At 99e minutes, Kadidiatou Diani was cut down by Dominique Janssen. After a few moments of negotiation in front of the video aid screen, the referee indicated the place of the penalty. The punishment officer, Wendie Renard allowed Eve Perisset to do the punishment (102e), sound 4e goal of choice, perhaps the most important.
A great snub in history, he missed the quarterfinals of Euro 2017 lost to England, due to suspension. And a 100% “1994-1995 generation” goal, Diani challenged and changed the Chelsea side.
“This generation has won everything: they are world champions in the under-1s7, European champions in the under-19s, bronze medalists in the world championships in the under-20s. These are the women who are attracted to the titles. It’s time to finish with lots of enthusiasm”, summarizes the former coach of the youth team, Gilles Eyquem.
The goal was clear, as Corinne Deacon recalled, on June 14, during the preparation, in Clairefontaine: “This is to do six times ninety minutes, minimum. » In other words, reach the final on July 31 at Wembley.
Before that, we first need to knock the Germans out of the semi-finals. And it is not an easy task. The pedigree of the Frauen-Nationalmannschaft speaks for itself: eight continental titles, including six in a row between 1995 and 2013. If they were abused by the Austrian selection in the quarter-final, the Germans, in fact, made the difference (2-0) .
Germany is the only team in the tournament still in contention without conceding a goal since the start of the final round. Flexibility can also be an important parameter. Alexandra Popp’s teammates played their quarter-final two days before the French, and therefore benefited from forty-eight hours of rest plus, and thirty minutes less on the legs.
But the French team can now leave Rotherham, where they played their first four games, with a sense of achievement. Now head south to Milton Keynes on July 27 for a place in the Euro final.