The most superstitious spoke of a curse. The others were beginning to find the time (very) long. Everyone wondered if, faced with its repeated inability for ten years, and the 2012 Olympics, to reach the quarter-finals in a major international event, the French women’s football team would end up finding the ingredients able to allow him to bring down what seemed 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 beating the Netherlands (1-0 and qualifying for the semi-finals of the Euro .
“The girls didn’t give up and I think it’s beautiful. Tonight’s perseverance paid off.” summarized, relieved, the coach of the Blue Corinne Deacon at the end of the game. It was necessary, in this case, to go after an overtime period, the score having remained empty (0-0) at the end of regulation time.
But the result is there: after three consecutive failures at the gates of the semi-final of a Euro (2009, 2013, 2017), this July 23 will remain a historic evening for the national women’s team which won, moreover, against the defending champions.
In Blue since 2011, Wendie Renard, who is competing in her third European championship, set the tone: “The past is part of my story but also that of the selection. And it is together that we will change it. We will have to suffer together, also have fun, play, let go. »
Corinne Deacon had chosen to renew the same eleven as the one who had defeated Italy in the opening match (5-1). “France is the favourite. A team with this much quality must at least fight for the title in every major final phase,” 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 as against Italy and that we will have a more dynamic match”, abounded for his part Camille Abily before the meeting. The former international with 183 caps was right.
The Tricolores could have more effectively avoided cold sweats and thirty extra minutes, but the third FIFA nation managed to assume its status. From the first moments, the French showed consistency, taking the Dutch midfielder by the throat, reputed to be one of the best in the world.
Selma Bacha, the paying choice of Corinne Deacon
The famous “synergy” evoked by Corinne Deacon 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 poor shape, after contracting Covid-19.
Despite an overwhelming domination (33 shots to 9), the lack of success of the French, who had three clear chances in the first period, with a shot on the post of Delphine Cascarino and two saves on the line of Van de Gragt, could revive the old ghosts of previous editions. Especially when Wendie Renard implored the sky when her header from a corner was taken out by the door Daphne van Domselaar at the end of the game (93e) .
But a new breath was found on the hour mark, when the coach chose to launch Selma Bacha in place of Melvine Malard, marking the start of a tactical reorganization, with Kadidiatou Diani at the forefront and Delphine Cascarino on the right.
Selma Blacha has not ceased to multiply the centers and breakthroughs. The Lyonnaise, elected player of the match, was also at the origin of what should have been the winning goal if Grace Geyoro had not missed the inevitable with a header just in front of the opposing goal (88e)
At the 99e minute, Kadidiatou Diani was mowed down by Dominique Janssen. After a few moments of negotiations in front of the video assistance screen, the referee designated the penalty spot. Penalty officer, Wendie Renard let Eve Perisset carry out the sentence (102e), sound 4e goal in selection, probably the most important.
A nice snub to history, she who had missed the quarter of Euro 2017 lost to England, due to suspension. And a 100% “1994-1995 generation” goal, provoked by Diani and transformed by the Chelsea side.
“This generation has won everything: they are world champions in the under-1s7, European champions in the under-19s, bronze medalists at the world championships in the under-20s. These are girls who are attracted to titles. It is time to conclude with a lot of gusto”, summarizes the former youth team coach, Gilles Eyquem.
The objective is clear, as Corinne Deacon recalled, on June 14, during the preparation, in Clairefontaine: “It’s to do six times ninety minutes, minimum. » In other words, reach the final on July 31 at Wembley.
Before that, we will first have to get rid of the Germans in the semi-finals. And it won’t be an easy task. The Frauen-Nationalmannschaft’s pedigree speaks for itself: eight continental titles, including six in a row between 1995 and 2013. If they were mistreated by the Austrian selection during the quarter-final, the Germans, realistically, made the difference (2-0).
Germany are the only team in the tournament still in contention to have not conceded a goal since the start of the final phase. Freshness could also be an important parameter. Alexandra Popp’s partners played their quarter-final two days before that of the French, and therefore benefit from forty-eight hours of rest in addition, and thirty minutes less in the legs.
But the France team can already leave Rotherham, where they played their first four games, with the feeling of accomplishment. Now head south to Milton Keynes on July 27 for a place in the Euro final.