Five years after the start of her mandate, a failed World Cup and many contested choices, Corinne Deacon has taken a highly symbolic step by taking the France team to the first semi-final of a Euro in its history. Enough to fuel the credit of the tricolor coach, especially with a World Cup and the Olympic Games planned for the next two years.
It is true that the Netherlands had not beaten France since 2015 and it is true that the last time the two teams met, during the Tournoi de France last February, the seconds easily beat the first. (3-1). Except that in the context of a Euro, especially against the defending champions and especially when you have never made it past the quarter-finals yourself, it’s another lemonade. But this Saturday, July 23, the Bleues did not tremble by winning after a complicated game, during which experienced Dutch women gave a hard time to French women who, for the most part, were playing their first tournament with the jersey of the A and shone with their enthusiasm and their desire, failing to be effective against the goal (1-0 victory on a penalty which compensated for 33 unsuccessful attempts).
They, you don’t talk to them about age
So yes, it was tough, but in the end, the best team won. All while starting with a fourth different starting XI in four games played. In total, all the players on the list of 23 (reduced to 22 since Marie-Antoinette Katoto’s withdrawal) had playing time, with the exception of defender Hawa Cissoko and the two substitute goalkeepers, Mylène Chavas and Justine The round. Enough to prove Corinne Deacon right when the coach reaffirms that “It wasn’t just to blacken the paper that I told you that we had a group. There are certain profiles that can bring when entering. When we see the qualities of Selma Bacha and Clara Mateo [toutes deux ont démarré sur le banc face aux Pays-Bas, NDLR] and others, I won’t name them all, they could start. And we know that when they come in, they do the work and they bring something extra. »
Bacha and Mateo, two examples of these Bleues who were not part of the adventure during the 2019 World Cup. Moreover, this Saturday evening, the central hinge Renard-Mbock as well as Kadidiatou Diani in attack were an exception. Others, like goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin or striker Eve Périsset, then waxed the bench, while on the left lane, Marion Torrent has since endorsed the costume of (super)sub for the benefit of Sakina Karchaoui. “These are things that are built over the long term, we learn from past experiences. We knew that a team with a deep bench was more interesting and when you play 120 minutes, it’s even more important.analyzed Corinne Deacon, when asking her how she looked at her five years at the head of Les Bleues. When you see Palis come in with all her nerve, when she was not a starter in her club [Bordeaux, NDLR], it is the strength of the collective. Torrent who held a few months ago, when we see all the energy of his entry [pour la deuxième période de la prolongation, NDLR], there is no bitterness. The girls are part of this group that wants to achieve something together. »
Harvest the fruit
Corinne Deacon is not the type to be demonstrative, at least not in the face of the media, which she always looks at with a certain mistrust. But at the end of this historic victory which qualified Les Bleues for the first semi-final in their history, the emotion was, of course, discreet, but very palpable. Perhaps because having broken the glass ceiling has nevertheless taken a weight off his shoulders: “I still say that [la malédiction des quarts de finale] is not our story. We, the staff and the players, want to write our own. Now we still have a bit of a way to go.” , she defended herself. Perhaps then because the coach sees this qualification as a response to criticism linked to her choice to deprive herself of historical executives, Gaëtane Thiney, Amandine Henry and Eugénie Le Sommer in the lead (to which is added Sarah Bouhaddi’s decision to stay set back from the selection as long as Deacon would be at the helm) to take a step forward, looking to the future.
A course already partially crossed and which would make it irrelevant to affirm that this last success would only be that of innocence on the experience: “ [Dire cela], it’s an offense to youth competitions. We have a very experienced team on this side. I didn’t ask to play without complexes, but to have fun and perform well. […] Today’s group was built twelve months ago and they want to achieve something together. The old ones supervise the young people very well, the young people are attentive and bring their share of freshness and carelessness. This all makes a very good mix. We took a step tonight, but it’s not an end in itself. We really want to play this final. When we showed our desire to be there on July 31, these are not just empty words. »
The best is yet to come
Just to make things clear: it is too early to speak of this quarter-final as a reference match. “It’s only a step towards the final victory and it’s true that it took a long time to take shape. We could have scored earlier, but tonight we came across a Dutch goalkeeper who was more than in a state of grace. I knew you were worried about the athletic aspect; I think you’ve been given a lot of answers tonight. I knew you were worried about the defensive aspect; I think you’ve been given a lot of answers tonight. But you haven’t been given many answers on the offensive aspect, at least not on efficiency. On the other hand, in terms of dangerous occasions and situations, we are well ahead. »
Facing Germany on July 27, it will be imperative to rectify the situation. Don’t worry, the Blues know what they have to do and have proven that they can do it, at least in theory and without seeing themselves too beautiful. A good omen for the next two meetings to come: the 2023 World Cup and the Paris Olympics the following year. With or without Deacon? When asked if Noël Le Graët, present at Rotherham and who had recently hinted at an extension of the coach’s contract, had already drawn his pen, the interested party replied with a gimmick that has become his signature: “You know, my personal case doesn’t matter. »
By Julien Duez, in Rotherham