Bruno Bini, the French women’s soccer team head coach, named his Olympic roster of 18 players this week.
France enters the 2012 Olympics with high expectations following a fourth place finish at the 2011 World Cup. Bini’s team of young, attacking stars are legitimate podium contenders this summer. Sylvain Jamet breaks down the French Olympic roster with everything you need to know:
- Celine Deville | Club: Olympique Lyonnais | Position: GK | Age: 30 Years old | Caps: 53 | Goals: 0| The regular back-up goalie for France. Played in 3 games at the World Cup 2011 against Germany, England and Sweden. A very important member of the team off the pitch.
- Wendie Renard | Olympique Lyonnais | CB |22 |20 | 3 | Made the center back position her own with club and country. The tall defender is constantly improving and maturing. She can also cover at right-back and left-back if needed.
- Sabrina Viguier | Olympique Lyonnais | CB | 31 | 90 | 1 | An experienced center-back, very solid and reliable. Provides good competition in the position.
- Laura Georges | Olympique Lyonnais | CB | 28 | 116 | 3 | Has recently lost her place for club and country due to erratic performance earlier in the season. Another seasoned player who studied in Boston a few years ago.
- Ophelie Meilleroux | Montpellier HSC | CB | 28 | 59 | 0 | A tough defender who likes one on one situation. Favorite to start the tournament at left center-back
- Sandrine Soubeyrand | Juvisy | 39 | 177 | 18 | The current captain with vast experience. Some fans have called for her to retire after an average World Cup last year. The question is, can she compete with high intensity at the top level? Bruno Bini has an absolute trust in her.
- Corinne Franco | Olympique Lyonnais | RB | 29 | 1 | 9 | Has come back from a long term injury right in time for the World Cup but was not used much. Has won her place back as well for Olympique Lyonnais and is one of the most trusted players for Bini. She also plays in the defensive midfield position.
- Sonia Bompastor | Olympique Lyonnais | LB 32 | 147 | 18 | Her main strength is she is a winner. A born leader she dynamise the group and makes sure no one drop their standard.
- Eugenie Le Sommer | Olympique Lyonnais | F | 23 | 54 | 17 | She has reached a new dimension this season. Confirming her success at the youth international level with a new maturity, she opened the score in the recent Champions League final with a penalty under a lot of pressure. Always taking on players and trying to find the right pass or shoot. She just need to be a bit more clinical in front of the goal to be a complete player.
- Camille Abily | Olympique Lyonnais | CM | 28 | 35 | 23 | She has everything you want from your playmaker: Exceptional technical skill, a big engine and football intelligence. She plays in a higher position on the pitch for club than for country where she is used in the defensive midfield/relaying player position.
- Laure Boulleau | PSG | DF | 26 | 25 | 0 | The perfect understudy for Sonia Bompastor, the modern left-back with the pace for counter-attacking and crossing. Also an excellent tackler and an aggressive defender.
- Elodie Thomis | Olympique Lyonnais | FW | 26 | 70 | 22 | Mainly used as a substitute. Has a lot of pace and can take on defenders for fun. Has recently improved her finishing with a hat-trick against Wales in the Euro qualifiers.
- Camille Catala | St-Etienne | MF | 21 | 5 | 0 | One of the youngsters promoted to the first team recently, she won the U-19 Euro in 2010 a pacy player.
- Louisa Necib | Olympique Lyonnais | 25 | 77 | 15 | The typical playmaker, creative and technically superb, so important for a ball possession orientated team.
- Elise Bussaglia | PSG | DM |27 | 99 | 20 | Had a fantastic World Cup in midfield and a few niggling injuries since. A mix of defensive grit and technical ability with a strong engine. Complements Camille Abily well in midfield.
- Sarah Bouhaddi | Olympique Lyonnais | GK | 26 | 50 | 0 | Back in the team after missing the World Cup. She has been very consistent and steady for the team.
- Gaetane Thiney | Juvisy FW | 27 | 68 | 30 | One of her most successful seasons for club and country scoring important goals and working hard on the wing as well. She has reached a new dimension after a successful world cup.
- Marie-Laure Delie | Montpellier | FW | 24 | 38 | 33 | Her quadriceps injury did not allow her to play at her best against the USA at the World Cup. Her goalscoring record speaks for itself: 33 goals in 38 games.
The four reserve players are three U-19 Euro 2010 winners Laetitia Phillipe (GK, Montpellier), Kelly Gadea (DF, Montpellier), who captained the side, Marina Makanza (FW, Freibourg) and Julie Soyer (DF, PSG), who is uncapped and had an excellent season.
Bini uses a 4-2-3-1 system on a regular basis. The team style is based on a attacking ball possession style, trying to get hold and control the ball to create opportunities, although the Cyprus Cup games against England and Canada have seen the team develop another side with a more defensive orientated tactic. Something that was missed in the big games at the World Cup as the team was still maturing and learning as it was the first time at the semi-final level.
The starting XI is very likely to be (but this can evolve in the two months before the competition starts):
Soubeyrand (or Bussaglia)—-Abily