PARIS — It took a whopping nine minutes for France to address any lingering doubts about whether or not they might succumb to the nerves of being both the hosts and the favorites at this World Cup. Eugenie Le Sommer clipped a shot off the underside of the crossbar, a sellout crowd of 45,261 fans at the Parc de Princes erupted, and Les Bleues celebrated — as they would three more times on the evening — with a jovial team dance.
The 4-0 victory over South Korea on Friday was exactly what France needed to open up this eighth edition of the Women’s World Cup. There will plenty of discussion about the psychological victory that this was for France, and that’s a worthy discussion given this team’s recent history of falling short in major tournaments. They will still be asked about all that — as they were after the match — but they provided the best possible answer — on the field.
Les Bleues laid down an emphatic whooping on Friday. They were sharp. They were clinical. And most of all, they were unforgiving, relentless in their approach to smothering South Korea from the opening whistle. What France did on Friday wasn’t about the opponent being nowhere near their level. What France did on Friday was about France — about playing to their fullest potential.
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