France 1 Iceland 0, 3 points and many questions but few answers

A 1-0 victory with a late penalty from Le Sommer means France start the Euros with a precious win, but will have to go back to the drawing board before the Austria game.

France started in a 4-2-3-1 system with Le Sommer as the lone striker, Thomis on the right side and Le Bihan on the left side. Abily was the playmaker with Bussaglia and Henry behind her.  Houara, Georges preferred to M’Bock bathy, Renard and Karchaoui. Bouhaddi was in goal as usual.

The first point to mention is how much influence the referee has on the game. She was quite lenient forgetting to whistle penalties, yellow cards, a red card and was inconsistent as well with her bookings.

She let so many things go unpunished on both side, that it was no surprise to see a French player being subbed after being injured with a twisted ankle. Talking about not controlling a game and favoring physical play rather than football, it was another typical example of those kind of games.

It is quite clear that with a different referee, who would have been stricter and fully applying the LOTG, the game would have been played differently. I note that the VAR would also have changed the game, fouls in the penalty area ignored by the referee with fouls on both side that could have been  seen and punished.

It is funny to note that Henry to win the decisive penalty had to clearly show the referee that she was being held to get the foul, otherwise it would not have been given, as it happened in the first half of the game.

External factor aside, it was certainly not a great performance from France, way too many technical mistakes on the final ball and passes. Against a team playing physically and pushing you in virtual and real sense, you can either raise your physical level to start a trench battle but it  would means no football being played. And with a random decision making referee, it can quickly lead to being red carded without warning.

Or you can try to play better football, go round the opposition defense and that was the logical option. So France kept trying to breach the Icelandic defense without much success, because the technical link between players was not there.

Some players under performed, others clearly lacked match sharpness, the speed of play and passing precision was missing in the final third for Les Bleues against a tight defensive block. It is not easy at all to go through or around such a good defense, but having Le Sommer as a lone striker was not great.

In the end France finished the game with four attacking players Diani, Delie, Thiney, le Sommer plus Abily and Henry in midfield and having numbers up front certainly helped.  .

Credit to the players for battling until the end of a poor game in term of team performance. Some individuals shone throughout the game, but many players were just average or below average and will need to raise their level against Austria.

At the end of the day, Iceland had a clear gameplan to disrupt the French attacking game and it worked well, while France had a gameplan and did not apply it to the best of their technical ability.

Attacking football in the end prevailed, but it was very close to another failure and 1-0 defeat as we have seen many through the years for France. There will be work to do in training to try to solve the problems as the next game against Ausria is likely to follow the same scenario.

 

All the FA WSL players selected for the Euro 2017 and their squad numbers

The tournament is starting in ten days and UEFA has published the teams’ squad lists. Here are all the FA WSL 1&2  players that will be involved in the Netherlands

 

FA WSL 1

 

Arsenal (9)

Jordan Nobbs, England #7

Alexandra Scott, England #22

Jodie Taylor, England #9

Fara Williams, England #10

Dominique Janssen, Netherlands #20

Anna Miedema, Netherlands #9

Danielle Van De Donk, Netherlands #10

Sari Van Veenendaal, Netherlands #1

Lisa Evans, Scotland #11

 

Birmingham (2)

Ellen White, England #10

Andrine Hegerberg, Norway #8

 

 

Bristol (2)

Yana Daniels, Belgium #15

Chloe Arthur, Scotland #23

 

Chelsea (8)

Millie Bright, England #16

Karen Carney, England #14

Francesca Kirby, England #23

Carly Telford, England #21

Maren Mjelde, Norway #6

Erin Cuthbert, Scotland #8

Hedvig Lindhal, Sweden#1

Ramona Bachmann, Switzerland #10

 

Liverpool (5)

Siobhan Chamberlain, England #13

Alex Greenwood, England #20

Casey Stoney, England #12

Shanice Van De Sanden, Netherlands #7

Caroline Weir, Scotland #9

 

 

Manchester City (11)

Mie Jans, Danemark #18

Karen Bardsley, England #1

Lucia Bronze, England #2

Isobel Christiansen, England #8

Toni Duggan*, England #19

Stephanie Houghton, England #5

Nikita Parris, England #17

Jill Scott, England #4

Demi Stokes, England #3

Jane Ross, Scotland #19

Kosovare Asllani, Sweden #9

 

Reading (3)

Jade Moore, England #11

Josanne Potter, England #6

Mandy Van Den Berg, Netherlands #4

 

FA WSL 2

 

Doncaster Belles (1)

Christie Murray, Scotland #16

 

* Toni Duggan has signed for FC Barcelona but was registered by the FA as a Manchester City player.

Frankie Fantom Brown is listed as unattached although Bristol City have not mentioned she has left the club yet.

France make one change for the Euro 2017 squad, what are the tactical consequences?

On deadline day, Olivier Echouafni has been forced to withdraw Amel Majri and replace her with Clarisse Le Bihan as the OL winger’s ankle injury did not heal quickly enough.

A sad news, as Majri was one of the rare left-footed player in the France squad alongside Karchaoui and it is likely to upset the balance of the team. There is a risk of seeing the left-wing barely used in attacking schemes, if the right player coupled with the right tactic is not selected.

 

The full squad list :

GK (3) : Sarah Bouhaddi (OL), Méline Gérard (OL), Laëtitia Philippe (Montpellier),

DF (7) : Laura Georges (PSG), Jessica Houara d’Hommeaux (OL), Sakina Karchaoui (Montpellier), Griedge Mbock (OL), Ève Perisset (PSG), Wendie Renard (OL), Aissatou Tounkara (Juvisy)

MF (8) : Camille Abily (OL), Élise Bussaglia (Wolfsburg), Grace Geyoro (PSG), Amandine Henry (Portland), Claire Lavogez (OL),  Clarisse Le Bihan (MHSC), Gaëtane Thiney (Juvisy), Sandie Toletti (Montpellier)

FW (5) : Camille Catala (Juvisy), Marie-Laure Delie (PSG), Kadidiatou Diani (Juvisy), Eugénie Le Sommer (OL), Elodie Thomis (OL)

Now the question is how will the coach balance the side to avoid having a weaken left side? We know a right-footed player will play on the left-wing and the majority of them will come inside leaving a long corridor for Karchaoui to run into the space.

 

Let’s have a look at the tactical options chosen by Echouafni since he took over from Bergeroo:

France Brazil 4-4-2 system no Majri, Lavogez left-wing, Thiney Le Sommer up front

France Albania 3-5-2 no Majri, Karchaoui left wing-back, Le Sommer Le Bihan up front

England France 4-4-2 Majri left-back, Lavogez left-wing, Le Sommer Thiney up front

France Spain 3-4-1-2 Majri left wing-back, Thiney at 10, Le Sommer Delie up front

France South Africa 4-2-3-1 Majri left-wing, Abily at 10, Le Sommer up front

England France 4-4-2 no Majri, Lavogez left-wing, Thiney Delie up front

France Germany 4-2-3-1 Majri left-wing, Abily at 10, Le Sommer right-wing Delie up front

USA France 4-3-3-Majri left-wing, Toletti at 10, Le Sommer up front

Nethelands France 4-4-2 Majri left-wing, Le Sommer Thiney up front

 

So what we can we guess from the games and tactics ?

If a back 3 is used Karchaoui will be the left-wing back number one choice with Perisset the second choice.

If there is a back 4, Karchaoui will again be the first choice left-back with Perisset as a second choice and Houara as a third choice.

Now, we know that a right footed player will play on the left-wing and it is a problem well known to France as seen with the men’s team at Euro 2004. Jacques Santini used to put Zidane there to combine with Lizarazu’s overlap.

So it looks like Claire Lavogez will fill up that Zidane role with Karchaoui her sidekick the same way as Lizarazu was for the playmaker. Now, it is quite clear that Lavogez recent performances in the France shirt have been a it underwhelming.

There is no doubt that if she is selected as a starter due to Majri’s injury, she will need to find her form and express herself as part of the team, otherwise we know that the ball will tend to go towards the centre of the pitch with Henry, Abily or Bussaglia and then towards the right wing with Thomis or Diani will be using their speed to create chances.

Another option is to use the 4-3-3 system and have Le Sommer as the left-winger with Thiney or Delie as the lone striker, an option that would bring some question mark about the finishing.

To be fair, none of the main strikers who have been around for many tournaments have managed to lead France to even a tournament final. While, goalscoring should not depend on them obviously, it is quite obvious that playing Le Sommer on the wing would not be the greatest idea.

Looking back at the 2011 World Cup, Thiney was used on the left-wing by Bruno Bini but it does nt look like an option used at all by Olivier Echouafni.

Then you have Majri’s replacement Clarisse Le Bihan who mainly featured under Bergeroo as the Thiney replacement when the Juvisy player was exiled with the MHSC forward playing in the same role and even getting her shirt number.

She is another central player like the other seven midfielders selected by the manager, so she is defnitely not a like for like replacement for Majri.

Everythig points to Lavogez being the “natural” replacement for Majri in the starting 11 and it will mean the players in the left side corridor Karchaoui, Lavogez and Le Sommer will have to work it out together. For example, when to drift inside for Lavogez and drift outside for Le Sommer, while combining those movements with Karchaoui’s forward run.

Olivier Echouafni has two friendly games against Belgium and Norway to find the right formula and balance, before the opening game against Iceland in Tilburg on the 18th of July.

FA WSL licence application for 2018/19 extended

The news came about a month ago following the demise of Notts County Ladies and the restructure of the WSL1 and WSL2 with Everton promoted to make it ten teams in each division. But as usual questions remain as there are some grey areas in the announcement.

The most curious point is actually when the FA made the original announcement back in December 2016   they actually opened for 20 WSL teams licences available, which did  not make sense at the time as the FA WPL was going to get promoted for the 2017/18 season.  So if Notts had not folded , there would have been 21 teams including newly promoted Spurs fighting for 20 licences.

“The alignment of the FA WSL season with the rest of the women’s football pyramid will mean that relegation from FA WSL 2 into the FA Women’s Premier League (FA WPL) will be introduced from the 2017-18 season.”

It is great to see relegation introduced and it will mean more pressure for teams at the bottom of the FA WSL2.

“The promotion position for the FA Women’s Premier League (FA WPL) play-off winners will be continued.”

“The licences will begin for the 2018-19 season and, for the first time, will not be fixed-term. Clubs will need to continue to meet licence criteria on an annual basis.”

This is a huge change and quite a disruptive one as team can lose their licence and we do not know where they would end up if they lose theirs. You also have to question what will happen to promotion relegation as well as teams could be promoted/relegated off the pitch, while the on the pitch results are different.

“Should a place in the FA WSL become available outside of promotion and relegation, it will be made available through an open application process.”

We all know that there is media pressure for United to get a women’s team but Southampton who now have an RTC and a u20 team are in better position to grab a licence if there is an opening.

Coming back to the point in bold, the application have been extended to a deadline on the 9th of october
“Under the revised schedule, recommendations will be made to and assessed by the FA Women’s Football Board by end of December 2017. “

“The constitution of clubs within the competition will be confirmed at the FA WSL AGM in June 2018. Licences will begin from the 2018-19 season.”

So basically by January 2018, the teams will already know where if they  will play FA WSL1, FA WSL2 or if they will lose their licence for the 2018/19 season. We are talking here FIVE months before the end of the 2017/18 season.

And then we get told there is promotion relegation between FA WSL 1 – FA WSL 2 and  FA WSL 2- FAWPL. Now, it is does not make sense to me at all, does it means the FA will actually have promotion relegation off the pitch as well as promotion relegation on the pitch.

Remember prior to the 2014 season Doncaster Belles were relegated off the pitch one game into their season and went to FA WSL 2, while newcomer Manchester City Ladies went straight to FA WSL1. And to be fair, considering City’s investment for their women’s football team, it was with hindsight the right decision.

So far example, what if the team with the smallest FA WSL 1 budget finishes in ninth place or higher and  is actually outbid by one team from the FA WSL 2 that subsequently replace them for the 2018/19 season when licence are delivered.

Does it mean that the team that finished bottom of the FA WSL 1 is not relegated and the team that finished top of the FA WSL 2 is not promoted, or does it mean that we would see a double promotion relegation?

And because licences are now offered for one season only and need to be renewed every season, we will get the same scenario every season and we don’t know if off the pitch results takes priority over on the pitch results.

At the end of the day, if a team is not allowed to compete in FA WSL1 because of lack of money, infrastructure or else, but is promoted or staying up in the division, you have to wonder what the FA will decided to do and it is an incredibly grey area.

As previously mentioned the Belles were demoted one game into their season and the FA got lucky that they finished bottom of the FA WSL 1 that year and it looked like a normal relegation rather than a demotion to the general public.

 

I intend to ask the FA and see what the answer they come up with as the impact of those decisions is important in term of fairness of the competition.

FA WSL 1 Summer transfer window 2017

The Summer transfer windows opens on the 23rd of June and will close on the 14th of September

This week’s transfers

Confirmed transfers

Extended contracts

Expected deals to go through ( could or could not happen)

 

Manchester City

In : Stephanie Houghton, Mie Jans ( Brondby IF), Karen Bardsley, Megan Campbell, Claire Emslie ( Bristol)

Out : Toni Duggan ( Barcelona), –  ()

 

Chelsea

In : Carly Telford, Magdalena Eriksson ( Linkopings)

Out : Lois Joel ( West Virginia Mountainers), Ana Borges ( Sporting Lisbon)

 

Arsenal

In : Vivianne Mediema ( FC Bayern), Gabby Ravenscroft ( Oxford United), Sari Van Veenendaal, Lisa Evans ( FC Bayern), Alex Scott, Miriael Taylor ( Chelsea Ladies), Ellie Perkins ( London Bees)

Out : Laura Hooper ( Seattle University Redhawks), Tinaya Alexander ( LSU Soccer), Chiara Ritchie-Williams ( LSU Soccer), Lotte Wubben-Moy  (UNC), Carla Humphrey (Bristol), Jordan Littleboy ( Hofstra university), Molly Peters ( West Ham Ladies), Rianna Dean (Millwall), Chloe Brunton-Wilde (Charlton Women), -(), – (), – (), -()

 

Liverpool

In : Niamh Charles, – (), – ()

Out : Danielle Gibbons

 

Birmingham

In :

Out :

 

Sunderland

In :

Out : Stephanie Bannon ( retirement)

 

Reading

In :

Out : Kayleigh Hines ( Oxford), Anissa Lahmari ( Paris FC)

 

Yeovil Town

In :

Out : Sarah Wiltshire ( Spurs Ladies), Angharad James (Everton)

 

Bristol City

In : Yana Daniels ( RSC Anderlecht), Danique Kerkdjik ( FC Twente), Carla Humphrey (Arsenal), Millie Turner, Chloe Arthur

Out : Claire Emslie ( Manchester City) – (), – ()

 

Everton Ladies

In : Gabby George, Georgia Brougham, Claudia Walker, Simone Magill, Kirstie Levell, Faye Brison, Siri Worm ( FC Twente), Marthe Musterman ( FC Twente), Mollie Green, Lizzie Durrack ( Harvard University), Angharad James (Yeovil), – (), – (),

Out : Lauren Davies (AFC Fylde),  Emily Hollinshead, Amber-Keegan Stobbs ( West Ham), Sasha Rowe ( Liverpool Feds)

FA WSL 2 Summer Transfer window

The Summer transfer windows opens on the 23rd of June and will close on the 14th of September

 

This week’s transfers

Confirmed transfers

Extended contracts

Expected deals to go through 

 

 

Doncaster Belles

In :

Out : Bethan Davies ( loan –  Guiseley Vixens)

 

Durham WFC

In : Abbi Cottam, Kathryn Hill, Zoe Ness

Out :

 

Sheffield FC

In :

Out : Danielle Lea ( Fylde Ladies FC) , Natasha Flint ( Fylde Ladies FC) , Lagan Makin ( Fylde Ladies FC), Olivia Fuller  ( Fylde Ladies FC)

 

London Bees

In :

Out : Mollie Burgess ( MK Dons), Ellie Perkins ( Arsenal)

 

Aston Villa

In : Dave Stevens ( head coach), Kerri Welsh, Beth Merrick, Katie Wilkinson, Chloe Jones

Out : Mollie Rouse ( Louisville Cardinals), Grace Smith ( West Virginia Mountainers), Joe Hunt ( manager), Lucy Porter ( Hofstra), Lucy Shepherd ( Hofstra)

 

Millwall Lionesses

In :  – (), Ella Rutherford ( 2 years)

Out : Ashley Cheatley ( Ashford)

 

Oxford United

In : Madi Lee, Lauren Haynes, Riva Casley, Ellie Noble, Danielle Carlton ( Spurs Ladies), Ella Franklin-Fraiture, Lauren Allison, Kayleigh Hines ( Reading)

Out : Gabby Ravenscroft ( Arsenal Ladies), Rosie Lane

 

Watford Ladies

In :

Out : Lauren Jordinson

 

Brighton Women

In : Danielle Buet ( unattached)

Out :  Hollie Olding ( University of Kentucky), Alessia Russo ( UNC),  Amy Taylor (Lewes Ladies), Lisa Fulgence ( Lewes Ladies), Charlotte Young

 

Spurs Ladies

In : Sarah Wiltshire ( Yeovil), Ashley Neville ( Coventry)

Out : Megen Lynch ( Crystal Palace), Nikita Whinnett ( Crystal Palace)

FA Women’s Premier League season 2017/18

 

 

The 2017/18 season will start on Sunday the 20th of August 2017 and supposed to finish with the play-off game on Sunday the 27th of May 2018. The play-off winner should be replaced the team finishing at the bottom of the FA WSL2.

The following 105 teams will compete in the six  FA Women’s Premier League Divisions

In the Southern Division, there will be  a question mark if Cardiff can get promoted as FA WSL teams but be registered with an English county, but rumors last season going round suggested they would be allowed to go up.

Charlton are favourite while, Cardiff and Coventry have always finished closed to the top in recent seasons. We also know that Crystal Palace and West Ham Utd are ambitious and are planning to try to get to the FA WSL in the future.

In the Northern Division, Blackburn Rovers will be the team to beat as they finished the League season unbeaten and won the League with 11 and 20 points ahead of second and third place.

The full fixtures list will be revealed in July. The FA WPL Cup draw has also been made as well as the Reserves Cup draw with ties to be played on the 3rd of September.

The reserves Leagues are as follows :

and the Reserves cup draw is as follows

I will try to get to FA WPL games when I am not at FA WSL or international games as it is a very entertaining and interesting Leagues and there are some diamonds in those teams that could play at a higher level if given a chance.