The click or the slap, again? Les Bleues set off on Saturday (9:00 p.m.) to attack the Netherlands, reigning European champions, with the hope of finally reaching the quarter-finals, on which they have been struggling for a decade in major competition.
“We will have to suffer together, have fun together, play, let go, take risks”, launched Wendie Renard, the manager of a France team with a still empty record. “The beautiful game is good, but efficiency is even better”.
So brilliant from the start against Italy (5-1), the tricolor star faded as the Euro progressed, with a narrow success against Belgium (2-1) and a frustrating draw against Iceland (1-1). A victory, “no matter” the way according to the captain, would restore brilliance and momentum to the Blues who arrived in England with the face of favorites.
The French have lost en route their nugget of attack Marie-Antoinette Katoto, seriously injured in a knee, and part of their insurance with, perhaps.
– Five consecutive failures –
The beginning of cleaver matches is, by definition, also the beginning of the end. It remains to be seen whether the story will stretch until July 31 for the final in London, or whether it will come to an abrupt end on Saturday evening at a stage where Les Bleues have a bad habit of stalling.
“Passing the quarters is not an end in itself. But given that we have not been able to pass this course for a few years, it is the objective of tomorrow”, summed up Renard on Friday, the 32-year-old Lyonnaise with eight Champions League titles.
Present at his side, Corinne Deacon tried to deflate the pressure by returning the ball to the Dutch camp.
“If there must be a favorite, it’s rather them. Especially since we keep telling ourselves that we can’t make it past the quarter-finals”, launched the coach , as irritated by the reminders of journalists.
Since the 2012 Olympics, France has indeed remained stuck in the quarter-finals of each competition (Euro-2013, World Cup-2015, Olympic Games-2016, Euro-2017, World Cup-2019), a series of five consecutive failures which sticks to his skin.
– With or without Miedema? –
Getting rid of this curse is a short-term objective for Les Bleues, and an imperative for the coach in view of the stated objectives: lifting the trophy at Wembley, as she has repeatedly repeated, or at least reaching the last four, as requested by the president of the FFF Noël Le Graët.
“My personal case does not matter. What is interesting above all is to see how the team will behave”, she evacuated.
Opposite, the Netherlands imagine themselves achieving a big blow despite the blows of fate which polluted the first round, with the injury package of goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal (shoulder) and star winger Lieke Martens (foot) , among others.
“There is a great energy in the group. We went through hardships and the group had only one reaction: to be stronger, more united”, launched Mark Parsons, the English coach of “Oranjeleeuwinnen” (“the Lionesses + Orange+”).
The defending champions have since Wednesday found their nugget of attack Vivianne Miedema, released from the isolation imposed after a positive test for Covid-19. The center-forward of Arsenal, gunboat in chief of the selection, should be able to hold its place.
Germany, it already has its place in the semi-finals in the heat. The most successful nation at the Euro with eight coronations, including six consecutive between 1995 and 2013, is firmly waiting for the French or the Dutch, next Wednesday in Milton Keynes.