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.