France continues on in its schedule of friendlies leading up to the Euro 2013 with a two-game series against Brazil. After drawing Germany twice in their previous two matches, Les Bleues found themselves again in a stalemate in a 2-2 draw against Brazil.
Here are a few things we learned about both the French and Brazilian sides after yesterday’s match:
• Goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi continues to be the French national team’s greatest liability. While she capably made many saves throughout the match, both goals tallied against her could have been prevented. The first goal certainly presented more of a technical challenge, but she found herself too far off her line to punch Giovânia’s glancing header over the bar. Her decision-making on the second goal was inexcusable for the international level..
• Thiney was match MVP for Les Bleues, and deservedly took (and converted) the penalty kick in the 84th minute.
• France still lacks the ability to close out a game effectively and consistently. Granted, they were trailing for most of this match, but felt far more in control than a Brazil side that was missing a number of its strongest players, including Marta. Had it not been for the penalty kick in the 86th minute, it’s likely Brazil would have stolen the win. Much like the draw to Germany, France controlled large portions of the match, and France certainly appeared to be poised to run away with this game early on.
Bruno Bini was quoted after the match as saying, “We still lack that little [something] extra to be able to beat these teams.” They will need to find it before the Euros.
• At this point, France might want to consider an alternate to Sandrine Soubeyrand for set plays, or at the very least an additional option.
• Brazil continues to have problems with flopping. It’s not simply overreactions to legitimate contact; there were multiple instances used to affect the flow of the game (particularly in the 80th minute as two minutes ticked away on the clock).
• Andréia and her defense managed to withstand a fairly persistent French attack over the course of the 90 minutes with more shape and structure. While the Brazilian defense isn’t there quite yet, compared to the porous nature of the Brazil back line in the recent past, steps are certainly being taken in the right direction. The penalty late in the game could have been avoided, however.
Both teams will have adjustments to make ahead of the rematch on Saturday. Bouhaddi remains the biggest question mark ahead of Euros for the French. And though the team is capable of covering for their goalkeeper’s weaknesses, so far they have yet to prove that they can do it consistently enough to win the big matches. As for Brazil, it remains a mixed bag, though the improvements on the defensive end could be encouraging for the future.
The two teams will square off again on Saturday in Stade Robert Diochon in Rouen at 9:00 PM local time.