France 23 players squad for the Algarve Cup

Phillipe Bergeroo has named his squad for the Algarve Cup tournament.

There are 2 changes from the 23 players squad that defeated the USA 2-0 in Lorient earlier this month. Louisa Necib was injured against the USA and is replaced by Aurelie Kaci. Laura Georges was originally selected in the 23 players squad but is staying with PSG due to a hamstring injury. She is replaced by Sandie Toletti who was originally called up for the B squad that is competing in the Istria Cup.

It is quite interesting to note that Bergeroo called up a midfield player to replace a defender, it clearly shows that the coach is happy with the other defenders he has with him and it closes the door more or less for other defenders to come into the World Cup squad.

Here is the 23 players squad :

GK Bouhaddi, Deville, Gerard
DF Boulleau Butel Delannoy Houara Majri M’Bock Renard
MF Abily Bussaglia Dali Hamraoui Henry Kaci Lavogez Thomis Toletti
FW Delie Diani Le Sommer Thiney

There are 3 goalkeepers, 2 of them are guaranteed to be at the WC, if they are not injured. Bouhaddi and Deville, the 3rd spot is probably a battle between Gerard and Guerin although Benameur might come into the equation, if she gets a run into the PSG side with the other 2 goalies injuries.

7 defenders plus Georges will be at the World Cup in Canada except for a long term injury.

In midfield Kaci and Toletti will face a battle to make the final squad. Dali and Lavogez are now regularly called up in their breakthrough year in the National Team. Obviously Necib when fit will slot back to her staritng left midfield place. It will be interesting to see who Bergeroo will use in his 4-4-2 system on the left  during the tournament?

Up front the 3 experienced players look all set to go to the World Cup with Le Sommer Thiney the starters, Delie the back-up. Youngster Diani has been called-up again and seem to be in pole-position to be the second center-forward back-up place.

France will play Canada on the 9th of April at Bondoufle and then will have 2 pre-World Cup friendlies on turf in France in Chateauroux and Nancy before flying to Canada. Another friendly might be arranged once over there.


France WNTs March program

The FIFA reserved dates in March start from the 4th to the 11th. 3 NT teams will be playing tournaments.

The seniors will play the Algarve Cup ( Group C )

Wed 4th Portugal v France 1700 Parchal ( live on Eurosport)

Fri 6th France v Danemark 1500 Faro  ( live on Eurosport)

Mon 9th Japan v France 1410 Parchal  ( live on Eurosport)

Wed 11th Finals ( live on Eurosport)

The B team will play the Istria Cup ( Group C) 

Wed 4th Wales v France B 1400 Umag

Fri 6th  Costa Rica v France B 1400  Rovjni

Mon 9th France v Bosnia 1130 Porec

Wed 11th Finals

The U19 will be playing friendlies

Fri 6th France U19 V Hungary U17 Umag ( Croatia)

Sun 8th France U19 V Slovenia  A Koper ( Slovenia)

Tue 10th France U19 v US Regional team

FA Women’s Cup Round 4 draw ( updated)

The draw for the FA Women’s Cup 4th Round has been disclosed .

Next round will see 7 FA WSL 1 and 1 FA WSL 2 team enter the competition. It is a good incentive for the FA WPL teams to win that round and then have a potential giantkiling in Round 5.

There will be one tie between WSL 2 teams, Radcliff Olympics who play in the fourth tier and upset WSL 2 team Durham will be away to Sheffield.

We are guaranteed a minimum of 4 FA WPL teams in round 5, 7  FA WSL 1 and 2 FA WSL 2 teams out of  16 teams.

Update :  Reading thrown out of the Cup after an administrative error, Crystal Palace replace them and will play against Charlton.


WSL 2 v WSL 2

Aston Villa v Yeovil Town

WSL 2 v FA WPL Southern (3)

Watford v Keynsham Town

Charlton Athletic  v  Reading Women

Portsmouth v Millwall Lionesses

 WSL 2 v FA WPL Northern (3)

Bradford City v Doncaster Rovers Belles

FA WPL Northern (3)   v FA WPL Northern (3)

Stoke City v Coventry City

FA WPL Northern (3) v FA WPL Southern (3)

Derby County v Tottenham Hotspur

FA WPL Northern (3) ) FA WPL Midlands Division 1 ( 4)

Sheffield v Radcliffe Olympic

FA WPL Southern (3) V  FA WPL South East Division 1 (4)

Charlton v Crystal Palace

England U17 to play France and Germany

There is a U17 tournament organised in England with France and Germany also involved.

England U17 v Germany U17 Mon 16.02.2014

Germany  U17 v France U17 Wed 18.02.2015

England U17 v France U17 Fri 20.02.2014


The games are played behind closed door a Bisham Abbey ie only people with tickets are allowed in.

England 2 Germany 4 ( HT 2-4)

The German FA has published the teamsheet ;

Germany 5 France 0 ( HT 2-0 )

Full match report in French here :


England v USA analysis

Well this analysis won’t be a thorough as last week’s France v USA one. The reason is very simple, I was delayed in the public transport from work to Milton Keynes and therefore missed the first 30 minutes of the game including  the Alex Morgan goal.

Starting 11

England : Bardsley, A Scott Houghton Bassett Stokes, Nobbs J Scott Potter Carney, Kirby Taylor

USA :  Harris, Krieger Engen Sauerbrunn Klingenberg, Press Brian Holiday Lloyd, Wambach Morgan


Tactics and systems

England made 5 changes from the team that lost 3-0 at Wembley against the USA with Bronze ( injured), Wiliams, Sanderson, Duggan ( injured) and Aluko repalced by Bassett, J Scott, Potter, Kirby and Taylor. They also made a tactical change going from a diamond midfield to a flat 4 midfield in their 4-4-2. England had a classic midfield 4 with Kirby in a free role running around Taylor.

To me it seems that Mark Sampson had moved the cursor from an attacking team to a defensive team, going back to the basics after the 3-0 defeat to Germany at Wembley.

USA made 2 changes from the side that lost to France with Chalupny and Heath making way for Krieger and Wambach. Kilingenberg and Press moved position as well in the 4-2-2-2 system chosen by Jill Ellis. She chose the continuity in term of  tactics/ system, while we could have expected a return to 4-3-3 with Press Wambach and Morgan up front.

So as expected,  we saw Press and Lloyd come inside and leave the whole space on the wing to Krieger on the right and Klingenberg on the left. This tactic seemed to work well as England decided to defend deep and centrally. In attacking form, the team shape actually looked like :  a triangle at the back Engen Sauerbrunn with Holiday at the tip, 5 players in the central area : Brian in the middle Press and Lloyd with Wambach and Morgan up top, and the 2 full backs very high on the pitch.


Physical impact

Pretty minimal on the night, the game was 10 to 15 % less intense than the France USA game. England players being in pre-season while the French ones were in the middle of theirs clearly showed as impact were not as important, they were a lot less duels than last Sunday in Lorient. The intensity in the midfield battle was not really high overall despite such a high concentration on players in that area.

Defensive shape

Both side defended in a flat 4-4-2 system, England defending a lot deeper than the USA sometimes having their 11 players behind the ball in their own half. It meant they had to run forward for 60 to 80 yards most of the time to be able to create a chance. Funnily enough the USA did the same sitting and hitting on the break with the 2 quick forwards against France and were on the receiving end of it this time.  England did not press very much the ball holder, leaving the american players with a lot of space and time to try to create chances. England worked hard to minimise chances coming through the congested midfield area.

Attacking play

While I was still on my travels, there were a lot of mentions on twitter that the USA were over-using the long ball. To be honest, I think they did use it a bit from the 30th to the end of the game but nothing extravagant. As England decided to defend quite deep, the USA enjoyed a lot of the ball and tried to develop a possession based game.  As in the France game, a number of passes went ashtray but England were not dangerous very often from the turnovers.

England seemed to enjoy playing on the break for most of the game but the 2 forwards Kirby and Taylor were frequently isolated and they only started to pressurise the USA in the last 10 minutes when Mark Sampson made a lot of changes. The forwards getting finally support from the whole of midfield rather than a sporadic one signle player or maybe two as seen during the rest of the game.


Game management and substitutions 

25′ goal Alex Morgan 1-0 USA

70′ Greenwood replaces Stokes for England. Straight swap at left back. Her pass completion rate will be quite poor in those 20 minutes.

79′ Auko replace Potter for England. She goes up front, Kirby moves from center forward to right midfield. Same 4-4-2 system but emphasis now on full attack for England.

79′ Dunn replaces Klingenberg for the USA Straight swap at left back. Did not see much of her in 10 minutes. Same 4-2-2-2 system

81′ Sanderson on for Taylor and Williams for Nobbs for England. Sanderson goes second striker behind Aluko while Williams goes into central midfield alongside Potter. Same 4-4-2 system

89′ Rodriguez replaces Morgan for the USA. Another straight swap and no time for A-Rod to show anything.  Same 4-2-2-2 system

90′ Clarke replaces Bassett for England. England finishes the game in 3-4-3 with Clarke slotting up front on the right.

92′ O’Hara replaces Press for the USA. Straight swap on the right side of midfield. No time for Kelley to show anything.


What we learnt from the game : both teams are work in progress and are definitely not ready for the World Cup. They will certainly use the Algarve/Cyprus Cup to fix the problems that need to be fixed ie find their best 11 and their best tactics. After all both teams are still in pre-season as club football has not started yet in England or in the USA.

France v USA analysis

Starting 11

For this international friendly both teams were supposedly lining up in a 4-4-2 system in theory mirroring each other.

France with Bouhaddi, Houara D’Hommeaux Georges Renard Majri, Thomis Henry Abily Necib, Le Sommer Thiney

USA with Harris, Klingenberg Engen Sauerbrunn Chalupny, Heath Brian Holiday Lloyd, Press Morgan


Tactics and systems

Phillipe Bergeroo playing his best 11 that will probably start the game against England at the World Cup, except for an injury of huge loss of form of course. Majri seem to have overtaken definitely Boulleau for the left back spot. There was no surprise for the 10 other players as the team is now well settled. Obviously Necib started on the left but with freedom to roam through the middle, unlike Thomis on the other wing who is more of a classic winger and does not come inside very often.

Jill Ellis doing a bit of experiment going to 4-4-2 after using the 4-3-3 in 2014. : Harris in goal for Solo who was obviously unavailable, Klingenberg at right back rather than Krieger, Chalupny at left back. Holiday and Brian in central midfield with Heath on the right and Lloyd on the left. Up front two speedy and technically strong forwards Press and Morgan. Wambach sitting on the bench.

It was interesting to note the similar pairing in central midfield with Henry / Abily on one side and Holiday / Brian on the other side. Both sides coupling a defensive midfielder with an attacking player slightly higher on the pitch. Although we saw during the game that Henry made many forwards run following her ball winning actions, unlike Holiday who was rarely seen venturing forwards. Henry and Abily managed to break the US midfield line enough time to make Jill Ellis reconfigure that area later in the game.

As she explained in the post-game press conference, Ellis tried a kind of 4-2-2-2 with the outside players tucking inside leaving all the wing space to the full backs Klingenberg and Chalupny. Well that did not happen very often for the US full backs. Note for those old enough to remember the 80’s men football. France did use that kind of set-up with the famous magical square of Tigana, Fernandez, Giresse and Platini. You can also note in the recent book on Guardiola’s first season at Bayern Munich the same use of wide players going inside rather than playing wide with Lahm and Alaba. That idea is definitely an interesting concept.

Ellis also mentioned when I asked her about using the quick transition that led to many USA chances, which they had been working on those in camps. France were certainly vulnerable when they lost the ball in the middle third and Morgan or Press would be found running behind Georges and Renard. Although chances were created this way none ended up in a goal. Had the USA forwards been more clinical, the game could have turned differently.


Physical impact

One important point that has not been often mentioned is France have worked very hard on their strength and conditioning since 2013, with Fred Aubert given licence to push the players. When the USA beat France at the 2012 Olympics by 4-2, there was a huge gap in physical strength and the French girls were knackered past the hour mark. Now that the French girls are level with the American girls on the physical side of the game, they can implement their technical football freely.

Defensive shape

On the defensive shape side, USA used the classic 2 banks of 4 players to defend while France where slightly less rigid in term of defensive formation.

Attacking play

Regarding the attacking scheme: France tried to build up attack using both wings alternatively and percussion through the middle, while the USA game plan seemed to sit and catch France on the break with quick passes behind the defence. When the USA went to 2-0 down, they struggled to build up play and have a good possession based football to break down the French defence. It is important to note that France started with 8 players from Lyon who therefore know each other very well and have been playing for many years together and have a strong understanding. This sometimes lead to a player like Thiney being isolated up front.


Game management and substitutions (subs in bold, player moving position in italics)

40 ‘ Kenza Dali came on for Louisa Necib as the French playmaker was injured. Dali played in the classical winger role on the left side, the French game tending to go more on the right win towards Thomis for a while which led to 2 goals before getting more balanced again.

France team (4-4-2 ) …., Thomis Henry Abily Dali, …

54’ France scored 2 quick goals on the attacking right side and straight after Chalupny is hooked replaced by Krieger. Probably to stop the French flow on that side.

USA team (4-4-2 ) Harris, Krieger Engen Sauerbrunn Klingenberg, …..

62’ Wambach comes in for Brian, she goes up front to dynamise the US team and try to get goals as USA need to go on the attack.

USA team (4-4-2 ) …, Press Lloyd Holiday Heath, Wambach Morgan

64’ Wambach gets a penalty that is saved by Bouhaddi.

72’ France react to the attacking save with Lavogez and Bussaglia coming in for Thomis and Le Sommer, switch to a more defensive 4-3-3 with Henry in front on the defence.

France team ( 4-3-3) triangle, Henry Abily Bussaglia, Lavogez Thiney Dali

76’ Rodriguez replaces Heath USA also switch to 4-3-3 mirroring France system, although it could qualify as a 4-2-4 depending on how you asses Press and Rodriguez positions on the pitch.

USA (4-3-3 ) flat Press Lloyd Holiday, Morgan Wambach Rodriguez

82’ another defensive change for France with Hamraoui the enforcer coming on at defensive midfield replacing the more attacking Abily with Henry playing higher now alongside Bussaglia.

France (4-3-3 ) triangle Hamraoui Henry Bussaglia

86’ Delie replaces Thiney up front as the center forward is tired

France (4-3-3 ) …., Lavogez Delie Dali


Interesting game management from both managers. A bit like a chess game. USA making attacking moves and France countering them with a defensive system changes. Then USA adding another forward on the pitch and France adding an extra defensive midfielder to counter that extra attacking player.

The USA are a very good side, the main problem being the heart of the team ie the midfield central area where they clearly lost the battle in that 2v2. A balance need to be found there or go back to 4-3-3 to strengthen that area.


The FA WSL evolution through the years 1-4

As we enter the fifth FA WSL season, I thought it would be interesting to review the four previous seasons and see how things have evolved. I think it is clear that there are 3 distincts period in the FA WSL history : 2011 & 12, 2013  and 2014 with 2015 looking to be another evolution.

2011 & 12 Semi professionalism and FA WPL 2.0

When the FA WSL started, it was clearly with the aim to have all the teams playing as semi-professional. At the time, it was simply the continuity from the FA WPL with teams still training only twice a week ( Tue and Thu) as a general rule and sometimes on a Saturday for some teams. As a result the 2 seasons resulted in the same Arsenal dominance we used to see in the FA WPL. It is quite funny that the 2011 and 2012  final tables were exactly the same but for Lincoln and Bristol swapping fourth and fifth place.  Things did not really fundamentally change from the old WPL in term of results :  FA WSL 1.0 = FA WPL 2.0. The main impact in reducing the elite division from 12 to 8 teams, is it did lead to moving quality players together rather than seeing them spread around different teams. We did see an improvement in fitness overall and also in term of keeping the defensive shape.  We saw  teams getting player at getting behind the ball quicker once the ball was lost, in line with Hope Powell tactics  with the England team.

Arsenal stayed in 1st place, Birmingham improved to 2nd place from 10th the season before thanks to an excellent campaign that saw them renew the majority of their players. Everton moved from regular contenders to 3rd place. Lincoln who were playing in the Northern Division at the time of FA WSL team selection finished 4th then 5th. They had a good recruitement campaign and also had fun with a manager musical chair game for many seasons. Bristol also made a lot of changes from the squad that finished 12th in the FA WPL and finished 4th then 5th. Chelsea finished 6th, Doncaster 7th  and Liverpool were bottom for 2 seasons in a row as they did not really change their squad from their Northern Division time.

2013  Full time training enters the FA WSL ie FA WSL 2.0

Liverpool, with Matt Beard having arrived in the middle of the previous season, started a revolution with full time training in 2013 moving on the previous 2 or 3 times a week. It will take a full season for other teams to catch up or even more for some teams are still not full time by 2015.  This puts them at a huge competitive disadvantage. Extra training means more fitness, more touches on the ball and a quicker development of the technical skills as well as a squad gelling quicker. Liverpool did change the majority of the squad signing English players and going abroad when there was no quality English player available in certain positions. They managed to win the League with a record 36 points.

Bristol led by Mark Sampson managed to find the right tactics to maximize their players strength and also with clever signings, their counter-attacking style surprised everyone and they ended up playing for the title on final day at Liverpool and their runner-up place was a fantastic achievement.

Arsenal led by new manager Shelley Kerr tried to recover from a poor season’s start, but hindered by internal problems their title challenge collapsed after an administrative mistake and they finished 3rd loosing the title for the first time in nearly 10 seasons. All those problems lead to a dozen of players leaving at the end of the 2013 season and massive overhaul with Kerr bringing many foreign players during the next winter window.

Birmingham were in a transition season as players stated early their intention to leave the club at the end of the season. This lead to the early  blooding of young players to prepare for the following season. They finished 4th and outside of the Champions League place for the first time in the FA WSL history.

Everton, Lincoln and Chelsea  had indifferent seasons despite early promises and potential with good signings but things did not happen.

In the end Doncaster finished the 2013 season at the bottom with 6 points and a win. Equaling the record for the lowest number of wins in the competition. That record will be unfortunately beaten the following season.

The line-up for the FA WSL 1 and the newly created FA WSL 2 with 10 teams was announced after Matchday 1. The main surprise was Man City selected to WSL1 and Doncaster Belles selected to WSL 2 and therefore demoted with 13 games out of 14 to be played. With marketing and money playing a huge part in the criteria for selection, it was only half a surprise to see a team with available money promoted to WSL 1.  The second surprise was Lincoln moving its franchise to Notts County for better training and ground conditions. At the bidding stage, the BBC had an  early article saying :  “Man City lead Women’s Super League bidding process”, so news were leaking from some place about the bid’s values.   To be fair, the original 8 teams line-up created as much controversy back in 2010 as many teams not selected felt hard done by the FA and the lack of transparency on the selection results did not help.

2014 FA WSL 3.0

A new evolution with 8 teams in WSL 1 and 10 teams in WSL 2. Liverpool’s success definitely convinced teams that full-time training was the way forward, and a  couple of teams moved to full time for their squad while others had part of their squad doing full time while others players on previous usual schedule. Some teams stayed on twice a week team sessions, while others moved on to 3 or 4 rather than twice a week.  There was an obvious improvement in  general attacking in 2014. With more attacking quality disclosed as some quality foreign imports were signed during the close season. It was indeed a busy transfer window with many England senior and youth players moving club as well as quality foreign imports joigning the League

A couple of teams had a defensive game plan defending deep and hitting the opposition on the break, Notts County mainly and Everton doing it a bit as well . Birmingham decided to have a very compact team, very difficult to beat but playing higher on the pitch than those defensive teams.  Bristol  changed their playing style as Dave Edmonson replaced Mark Sampson who have taken the England job. They changed into a possession based style but players did not swtich style and the Vixens finished at a disappointing 7th place.  Everton unfortunately beat the least win in the WSL 1 record by not winning any League game the whole season. They sadly ended as the first team ever relegated from WSL 1 ( Doncaster were demoted).

Man City struggled a bit at the start of the season and then halfway through it moved all their players to full time and finished on a high with a cup win. They finished 5th in the League. Arsenal had another bad season start under Shelley Kerr. The changes she implemented did not work out and the team took a lot of time to gel. She left mid-season with 4 league games played and no win. The Gunners finished in 4th place, having gone through multiple caretakers before a new manager was appointed.

The title and Champions League places went to the final day with 3 teams in it to win it. Chelsea with their flamboyant attacking style, Birmingham with their compact team and Liverpool who managed to stay in the title race despite having mutiple long and short term injuries for the most of the season. In the end Liverpool managed to snatch the title off the other team’s hand. Chelsea a Champions League place and Birmingham the chocolate medal ie nothing to show for their season’s effort.

WSL 2 saw Sunderland being promoted on final day with Donnie Belles unlucky to miss out after going head to head the whole season. Reading should also have been also fighting for it but a disastrous second half performance against Sunderland that ended up with a draw finished their promotion hope.

The football qualify definitely took off in the 2014 season as a result of more training overall for the teams that led to more fitness and more skills developed. The game’s general intensity also went up compared to previous seasons as well as the TV coverage provided by BT.

 2015 FA WSL 4.0

Another busy transfer window with nearly all the teams now training 4 or 5 times a week, which should mean a level playing field more or less. The professionalisation era is entering the FA WSL on every level on and off the pitch with all the good and bad things coming together. Teams are currently rebuilding and adding players so we should know by the end of March where teams stands in term of title/champions league/relegation ambition.