HARRISON, N.J. – The wheels haven’t exactly fallen off of France yet. They are a team in transition, but it’s not as bad as everyone thinks. Le Bleues rebounded with a 1-1 draw vs no. 1 ranked United States on Sunday. Three days earlier, England thrashed France 4-1 in Columbus, Ohio which promted Coach Corinne Diacre to say she was “angry” with her team.
“It went much better, it was much better today,” Diacre said post match via translator. “We looked at the video we took yesterday. Against the USA we needed to find out what went wrong last time, and fix it.”
“I don’t know, the first game, it was very bad,” Amandine Henry said. “Maybe it’s because the first of the competition, we have new players, and we need to be automatic. Against the USA we tried to play better, and have more confidence. We have a mind of revenge.”
While France didn’t quite get revenge, they played better, and showed that they can compete with the mighty U.S. France bent, but they didn’t entirely break.
“We defended a lot, and we always made blocks,” said goal-scorer Eugenie Le Sommer. “We had a good defense, and we scored just after the USA. It’s a great performance for us today.”
Anytime you have a young, inexperienced squad, you’re going to have growing pains, and a period of flux, while the teams solidifies tactics, trust, and bonding. Mixing in youthful players with a national team primarily made of Olympique Lyon, and Paris Saint-Germain won’t come together overnight.
“We are a team that is building and constructing,” Diacre said. “The problem is, we have international players that often times don’t play on their normal club. It’s a challenge to get everyone on an international level, and one team.”
As in years past, Les Bleues haven’t always been a together, united, and happy bunch. If France is going to develop, succeed, and make progress, they will need veteran leadership showing the next generation how to take the next step forward for football in France.
“Yeah the team is so young,” Le Sommer said. “We are just two or three players with the experience of the game. When you are young, you can do a lot of good things.”
Henry, Le Sommer, Amel Majri, and goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi know that have to provide leadership. The France team of the future is dependent on those players to show the way.
“Yeah, we try to be a leader because we have a lot of younger players,” Henry revealed. “We need to help them with experience. It’s good because when you’re young, you don’t think crazy.”
The 2019 FIFA World Cup is 15 months away. As the hosts, France don’t want to have croissants and caviar on their face. The World Cup is an opportunity to grow women’s football, and women’s sports throughout France. Having a strong team that can contend is a must. The pressure is on Les Bleues, but it’s a pressure they’re comfortable with.
“It’s normal when it’s in your country, it’s normal the pressure,” Henry admitted. “It’s not the bad pressure, it’s the good pressure. You have your friends, family, media. You have a lot of things. Now it’s one year, we have time, but one year, it’s short at the same time. I think it’s good for France.”
France is often thought of as a team to beat, a benchmark for other sides who want to climb the mountain and win a Euro, World Cup, or Olympic. They’ve never done it, and it’s perceived that they’re slipping. France was never as great as we thought, and they are not as bad as we thought.