What we know so far about the 2018 U20 World Cup in Britany

From the 7th to the 26th of August 2018, France will be the host of the U20 World Cup and it will take place in the Brittany area. Here is what we already know.

 

Format

Born in 2002, the U20 World Cup (U19 in 2002) has 16 teams distributed over four groups with the top two teams from each group going through to the quarter-finals. For the 2018 France have automatically qualified as hosts.  The allocation per confederation is as follows:

Hosts 1: France
UEFA 4: Germany, Netherlands, Spain, England
AFC: 3
CONCACAF: 3
CONMEBOL: 2
CAF: 2
OFC: 1 New Zealand

 

Accommodation

The French bid had originally offered an unusual set-up with the University campus Beaulieu in Rennes as the accommodation for the 16 teams. The concept was reprising the same spirit as the Olympic villages. This unusual set-up has not been validated by FIFA, who has decided to keep the usual hotel set-up for the delegations.

 

Stadiums

Many grounds have been proposed to host the 32 games to be played during the tournament over 20 days. Following stadium visits and taking into account the calendar constraints, three grounds have already been selected.

Stade Guy Piriou at Concarneau, Stade Marville in St-Malo and Stade de la Rabine in Vannes. Among the other candidates St-Brieuc, has not been selected as they did not do the required work improvement.  A fourth ground will be selected between Vitré and Léhon.

The FIFA LOC has visited the premises two months in order to see what development needed to be done for the tournament. The idea behind the Brittany bid is the whole departments in the region host games but also have training grounds for the teams.

For the remaining grounds waiting to be selected, they are both expected to improve the lighting and the stands in order to fulfil the applicable standard. Those points must be validated by the city halls. The final city should be known in the near future.

The original post in French can be found here

 

Travel mileage to grounds

If fans/parents wants to be based around Rennes (capital of Brittany) during the tournament, here is the distance from the different grounds:

Rennes – Concarneau 202 km / 125 miles

Rennes – Vannes 116 km / 72 miles

Rennes – St Malo 70 km / 43 miles

Rennes – Vitre 38 km / 24 miles

Rennes – Lehon 54 km / 34 miles

 

TGV train from Paris to Rennes takes around 1h30

 

If they want to be based around Nantes (the historical capital of Brittany and a well know tourist area)

 

Nantes – Concarneau 216 km / 134 miles

Nantes – Vannes 114 km / 71 miles

Nantes – St Malo 179 km / 108 miles

Nantes – Vitre 139 km / 87 miles

Nantes – Lehon 163 km / 101 miles

 

TGV train from Paris to Nantes takes around 2h00

 

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.

France players for the 2017 Euros and their previous tournament experience

Olivier Echouafni has named his 23+6 reserves squad for the UEFA 2017 Euros to be played next month in the Netherlands.  Here we will look at how much tournament experience the France squad has gathered through the years.

 

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), Amel Majri (OL), 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)

Reserves : Pauline Peyraud-Magnin (OM), Marion Torrent (MHSC), Aminata Diallo (PSG), Clarisse Le Bihan (MHSC), Valérie Gauvin (MHSC), Mylaine Tarrieu (OL)

 

Here are the players that played in the previous  international  competitions

World Cup 2003 (1): Laura Georges

Euro 2009 (7): Laura Georges, Camille Abily, Elise Bussaglia, Amandine Henry, Gaetane Thiney, Eugenie Le Sommer, Elodie Thomis

World Cup 2011(9) : Wendie Renard, Laura Georges, Eugenie Le Sommer, Camille Abily, Elodie Thomis, Elise Bussaglia, Gaetane Thiney, Marie-Laure Delie, Laetitia Phillipe

Olympic Games 2012 (10+1) : Sarah Bouhaddi, Laura Georges, Wendie Renard, Camille Abily, Elise Bussaglia, Camille Catala, Gaetane Thiney, Marie-Laure Delie, Eugenie Le Sommer, Elodie Thomis, Laetitia Phillipe*

Euro 2013 (12) : Sarah Bouhaddi, Wendie Renard, Laura Georges, Jessica Houara, Elise Bussaglia, Amandine Henry, Camille Catala, Camille Abily, Eugenie Le Sommer, Elodie Thomis, Gaetane Thiney, Marie-Laure Delie

World Cup 2015 (16): Sarah Bouhaddi, Meline Gerard, Laura Georges, Jessica Houara, Amel Majri, Griedge M’Bock Bathy, Wendie Renard, Camille Abily, Elise Bussaglia, Amandine Henry, Claire Lavogez, Elodie Thomis, Marie -Laure Delie,  Kadidiatou Diani, Gaetane Thiney, Eugenie Le Sommer

Olympic Games 2016 (15+1): Sarah Bouhaddi, Meline Gerard, Griedge M’Bock Bathy, Wendie Renard, Sakina Karchaoui, Amandine Henry, Amel Majri, Jessica Houara, Eugenie le Sommer, Camille Abily, Claire Lavogez, Elodie Thomis, Kadidiatou Diani, Elise Bussaglia, Marie-Laure Delie, Laetitia Phillipe*, Sandie Toletti **

*alternate at the London and Rio Olympics did not play

** alternate at the Rio Olympics did not play

 

The player with the most experience is Laura Georges with 7 tournaments played so far.

The we have a quartet of Camille Abily, Elise Bussaglia, Eugenie Le Sommer and Elodie Thomis with 6 tournaments played.

Gaetane Thiney , Wendie Renard, Marie-Laure Delie all come next with 5 tournaments

Amandine Henry and Sarah Bouhaddi have been selected in  4 tournaments

Jessica Houara has taken part in 3 tournaments

Camille Catala, Meline Gerard, Amel Majri, Griedge M’Bock-Bathy,  Claire Lavogez, Kadidiatout Diani have played in  2 tournaments

Sakina Karchaoui has played 1 tournament

Laetitia Phillipe has taken part in 1 tournament but was an alternate twice at the London and Rio Olympics.

Eve Perisset, Aissatou Tounkara, Grace Geyoro and Sandie Toletti who was an alternate at the Rio Olympics will take part in their first senior tournament.

 

If we compare the squad to the one from the  last tournament played, the Rio Olympics last year (with 18 players) Sabrina Delannoy and Louisa Cadamuro have retired from football, while Kheira Hamraoui lost her way by moving from PSG to Lyon and ended up with little to nearly no playing time and lost her place to Grace Geyoro.

If we compare the squad to the last tournament with 23 players ie the 2015 World Cup in Canada : Celine Deville, Laure Boulleau, Sabrina Delannoy, Kenza Dali, Louisa Cadamuro, Annaig Butel and Kheira Hamraoui are not there.

 

So the France WNT are clearly one the favourite to win the 2017 Euros, but we know that they need to solve their mental weakness problem and they also need to be able to finish their chances when it matters. And it shows in their final games in the last tournaments.

Euro 2009 :  lost on penalties to Netherland in QF 0-0 at full time

WC 2011 : lost to the USA 4-2 in the SF,  lost 2-1 to Sweden in 3rd place play-off

OG 2012 : lost to Japan 2-1 in SF, lost 1-0 to Canada in 3rd place play-off

Euro 2013 : lost to Denmark on penalties in QF 1-1 at full-time

World Cup 2015 : lost to Germany on penalties in QF 1-1 at full time

OG 2016 : lost to Canada 1-0 in QF

 

March 2017 FA WSL/FA WPL international call-ups

For those who are not familiar with the FIFA Women’s International match calendar, there is an international window for teams where they can play up to four games from the 27th of February to the 8th of March.

The following tournaments involve players from the FA WSL 1&2  and FA WPL. The club have to release the players to their national team as per the FIFA regulations and FA WSL clubs with games during the tournament can request a postponement.

Of course, the FA have blocked the dates so that no FA WSL 1 games are being played but they put the FA WSL 2 Matchday 4 in that period of time , for some unknown reason.

The FA WSL Spring Series rules say :

“A Club having three (3) or more Qualifying Players or one (1) goal keeper selected for international duty in accordance with Annexe 1 of The FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (this does not include Players on standby) by their National Association for senior representative, under 21, under 20 or under 19 national representative matches (or any combination thereof) may request a postponement of any Competition Matches that takes place during the period of time in which the Players are called up by their National Association team or within 2 days of their return from international duty provided that at least 10 days’ notice in writing has been given to the Competition Secretary. The Management Committee shall decide in its absolute discretion whether the postponement shall be granted.    ”

So the FA can actually refuse a postponement and penalize a team that is forced to send their player on international duty by FIFA to field a weaker team. Make what you want of this rule, but if half of your team is on international duty and you have to play a game, the integrity of that competition is simply compromised.

The FA WPL rules say :

“Clubs shall support The Football Association in relation to International Matches in
accordance with the provisions of The Football Association Rules.
A Club having 2 players or more selected for International Duty for their National
Association may request a postponement of its League fixture provided that at least
10 days notice is given to the League Secretary in writing.
If 1 player is selected and that player is the goalkeeper a Club could make a similar
request for the postponement of its League fixture. This will only apply to Senior
and Under 19 matches which are played within the FIFA Women’s International
match calendar.”

Those are the actual tournaments played in the international window :

SheBelieves Cup, Algarve Cup, Cyprus Cup, Istria Cup, La Manga U23, La Manga U19 and players from FA WSL 1&2 and FA WPL will take part is those tournaments. You would certainly expect some games to be postponed or at least requested to be postponed in that period.

The following players from the top two Leagues have been called up so far, file will be updated as soon country relase their news.

international

England U17 players go home with pride and having learnt a lot during the tournament

Prior to the tournament, I was hoping for the team to get to the semi-finals. Unfortunately a quarter-final defeat to a superb Japan team, means they will go home a round earlier.

There is no doubt, it was an excellent tournament for the young Lionesses, a learning curve discovering different continental football in a competition.

If we go by what happened for the previous England team that went to the U17 finals around a dozen players made it to the seniors or the Next Gen squad.

If things go well, maybe one or two players might get in the squad for the 2019 World Cup. But we are more likely to see them at the 2021 Euros and 2023 World Cup.

The next step for that generation of girls born in 99 is to link up with the girls born in 98 for the 2016/17 U19 Elite Round in Spring 2017. The finals will be played in Northern Ireland and will act as a qualifier for the 2018 U20 World Cup that will take place in Brittany, France.

I think what we saw throughout the tournament that some players managed to raise their level to challenge world class opponents. Stanway, Wubben-Moy, Russo, Charles, Hinds come to mind straightaway.

Others had some up and down performances and hopefully will get more tournament football at U19 and U20 level to prepare for the seniors.

Because as it was mentioned several times the FA is targeting the World Cup 2023 as a winnable competition.

In term of results, a 3-3 draw against North Korea, a 0-0 draw against Nigeria, a 2-1 win against Brazil and a 3-0 defeat against Japan show five goals scored and seven conceded.

I am sure the staff and players will review the defensive phases that led to the goals to learn from the errors and make sure they do not happen again.

Team defending takes a lot of work to be perfected, because it starts from the forwards and all 11 players must be in tune.

On the attacking side, we saw a lot of creativity and work rate from all the forwards.

Obviously, the playmaking role was given to Stanway who was cruelly missed in the Japan game due to suspension. The City midfielder has been superb orchestrating England’s play.

It is just regrettable that suspension deprived the team from one of the biggest asset. I note that she was also suspended in the first group game at the previous U17 Euros, something that needs to be avoided in future atournaments.

On the day against Japan, England struggled in the 4-1-4-1 organisation without Stanway and once chasing a two goal deficit went to a 4-4-2 that brought more stability and attacking power.

You never know what could have happened has England not conceded two goals at crucial times, beginning and end of the first half, but Japan were certainly superb and showed the value of ball possession.

England fought very well with their traditional weapons but lacked a lit bit of composure under a tough Japanese pressing. In the meantime, we saw a referee who did a FIFA style job whistling for every fouls, something that you don’t see in England and it prevented the English players from physically pressurising the Japanese.

There is no doubt that all the girls have grown and learnt during that tournament and hopefully will get a lot of playing with the development teams for the majority of the girls, while those at certain clubs will go back to first team football.

When the FA WSL 2016/17 first winter seasons starts all those young players with the highest potebtiak need to be around the first team squads in order to develop. Because as mentioned by Emma Hayes, the development league is not strong enough.

And another point she mentioned is losing players to scholarship in US universities. We know that many got offers and the FA rarely selects players who are over there in the NCAA for youth teams. A rare exception being the Harvard GK in the last few seasons.

So well done to John Griffiths his staff and all the girls for a fantastic tournament. Let’s hope for more success in the near future.