France likely to run out of steam in knock-out stage again

Providing that Les Bleues manage to go through to the quarter-final round, fitness is likely to cost the French team dear as it has done in previous competitions.

Beating New-Zealand should happen for the FIFA number 3 ranked team and therefore would set up a quarter final tie against either :

a) Group F winner (  Canada/Germany) should France finish runner-up in group F with USA likely to beat Colombia

b) The third placed team from Group E/F ( potentially China/ Sweden/Germnay/Australia) in the unlikely event of France winning the group

c)  The Group E winner ( very likely Brazil) if France go through as one of the two best third placed team.

The biggest problem for France, besides being unable to score goals when it matters, is the fitness level. For some reasons that are difficult to explain, the French players never seem to be able to compete with a team like the USA on fitness level.

The gap was huge between the two countries  around Bruno Bini’s time as the philosophy was an attacking one with France trying to outsmart the opposition with attacking play rather than enter the physical side of the challenge.

Then Phillipe Bergeroo came in,  changed the set-up and managed to reduce the fitness gap with an excellent trainer in Fred Aubert, but it was not enough as seen at the World Cup in Canada.

Those who witnessed the quarter-final game against Germany saw the drop in physical performance from the French players from the 60th minute onwards until the end of extra-time. Note  that the indoor Olympic Stadium pitch in Montreal was responsible for unusual physiological parameters apparently and France played two consecutive games there.

The reason for this energy level drop was explained as a lack of squad rotation during the Group stage because of the defeat against Colombia. It is nothing new as we seem to always do the same kind of squad rotation throughout any tournament, be it U17/u19 Euros or U17/U19 World Cup.

It is a regular pattern for France’s squad. Rotate to rest and protect. All the winning tournaments for France at youth level saw that kind of squad rotation with every player involved.

That defeat against the USA on Friday means Phillipe Bergeroo is likely to keep the same 11 save for Le Sommer to replace Delie and maybe another change in midfield, but no wholesale change that would have had happened otherwise.

So if France manage to beat New Zeland tonight, the team will have a tough quarter-final game and might run out of fuel should they make it to the semi-finals. And as we all know, deploying an expensive attacking game, need sharpness and technical accuracy, which is incompatible with tiredness. Not to mention the finishing problem that is well know to everyone.

Let’s hope we can score early enough and multiple goals against New -Zealand and save some potential tired legs tonight.

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Can France WNT finally win a  tournament medal at senior level ?

We all know the story, quality football to watch but no end product when it matters. Can France finally make the next step? 

Well, the latest results following the World Cup in Canada have not been exceptional at all. The football quality has left a lot to desire in many games unfortunately with pragmatism in order rather than attacking football.

The squad has seen some transformation with Boulleau and Georges missing through injury, Thiney no longer being selected and a new player arriving last month who will retire after the tournament : Cadamuro.

There are two centre forwards listed in the squad Le Sommer and Delie and both have been around when the team failed to score enough in the knock-out stage in 2011, 12, 13 and 15. No one knows if they can provide the crucial goal when it matters.

The back-up centre forward is Diani who has been mainly used as a right winger in the warm-up games but the same question mark applies. Can she do it in the big games ?

So we are left hoping that the midfielders and defenders will provide goals. Thomis, Abily, Henry, Lavogez, Bussaglia, Cadamuro and Renard are the possible scorers and they will need to contribute strongly like the men’s team did in 98 when none of the forwards scored in the knock-out stage on the way to victory ( Blanc, Thuram, Zidane and Petit scored in those 4 games).

Qualifting from the group won’t be easy. Colombia beat us 2-0 at the World Cup exposing a  mental weakness after going behind. 

Then the US WNT game will be another tough one if we are not clinical as in the past. You would actually expect Bergeroo to rotate a bit against Colombia to have his best 11 ready against the USA but that WC defeat might mean best 11 against the South Americans.

New Zealand will be a physical game and probably a must win as well depending on the two previous results. 

Then in the knock-out stage, who knows if we can score goals when it matters? History says no and it has to change. Especially as it will be the last competition for certain players. 

Bergeroo has now moved away from his 4-4-2 system that did not produce enough in big matches to 4-2-3-1 / 4-1-4-1 and we will see if that slight adjustment, removing a forward and adding an attacking midfielder will pay off. 

The FA WSL2 promotion race EP 5

Things are getting clearer at the top of the table between the four teams till chasing promotion. Last week-end saw Bristol, Yeovil and Durham win while Everton drew. It might go on the last day if Everton and Durham manage to win their games on hand.

As of today the table looks like this

1 Yeovil 29 pts + 20 (13) maximum points 44

2 Bristol 27 pts +12 (13) maximum points 42

3 Everton 21 pts + 12 (11) maximum points 42

4 Durham 20 pts +6 (11)  maximum points 41

Durham goal difference might come back to haunt them if they finish level with other teams.

We can also note that the FA  WSL 2 season is tighter than in previous seasons. in 2014 top and runner-up finished with 47 and 45 points respectively while last year they both finished with 45 points.

 

Here are the remaining games for the top 4 teams ( in bold)

14.08 Everton v Durham

27.08 Bristol v Everton

28.08 Durham v Oxford, Sheffield v Yeovil

10.09 Bristol v Watford

11.09 Millwall v Durham, Everton v Oxford, Yeovil v London Bees

24.09 Bristol v Durham

25.09 Yeovil v Everton

09.10 Durham v Everton

29.10 Everton v Bristol

30.10 London Bees v Yeovil, Watford v Durham 

06.11 Durham v Millwall, London Bees v Everton, Oxford v Bristol, Yeovil v Sheffield

 

There is all to play for the four sides with six head to head games between the teams that might be decisive. Hopefully it will go to the final day.