The View From France

We welcome new writer Jean-Pierre Thiesset who will provide us with regular news from all the goings on in French women’s football. He begins by giving us the lowdown on the French First Division and then tells us about the background to a frustrating game against Austria for the national side earlier this week.

The French Women’s Football First Division is called “D1 Arkema” (D1 for Division One and Arkema being the sponsor). There are twelve clubs in D1 – ASJ Soyaux Charente, Dijon FCO, EA Guingamp, FC Fleury, Girondins Bordeaux, GPSO ’92 Issy, Le Havre AC, Montpellier HSC, Olympique Lyonnais, Paris FC and Paris St. Germain.

Above: The location of France’s D1 sides.

The D1 is governed by the FFF (Fédération Française de Football – French Football Federation). The D1 is not a professional league but a few clubs are professional.

Olympique Lyonnais dominates the D1 and only Paris St. Germain can compete with them so far. In recent years, Bordeaux and Montpellier started to close on these two teams but are still a little bit behind.

Olympique Lyonnais and Paris St. Germain players make up the main backbone of the French national team even if more and more new players from the other teams are starting to be included in the French national team.

Foreign players are represented in the D1 Championships and among them several players from England with Olympique Lyonnais fielding stars like Nikita Parris and Jodie Taylor this year or Jessica Fishlock, Lucy Bronze, Alex Greenwood and Izzy Christiansen in previous years.

Meanwhile…

The French national team is still not qualified for the European Championship which will take place in England in 2022. Let’s go back a few days to try to understand why.

Group G Standings before Tuesday game against Austria were:

1st – France – 15 points in 5 games – Goal difference 28

2nd – Austria – 15 points in 5 games – Goal difference 21

Seeing this standing, we can easily understand that the Tuesday game was important for both teams. Normally, France (3rd team in the rankings) would be supposed to beat Austria (22nd in the rankings) but with the tensions around French team right now between French coach Corinne Diare and a few Olympique Lyonnais players, surprises were possible.

Sarah Bouhaddi long time holder of the goalkeeping position without any doubt so far, decided not to go to join the team after problems between her and Diacre. Furthermore, Amandine Henry, the actual captain of the French team was not selected by Corinne Diacre. The explanation was that Henry needed to rest to retrieve all her potential.

However, without Bouhaddi, Henry and other main stars of the side such as Wendie Renard, Amel Majri and Marion Torrent, France still won 11-0 against the modest North Macedonia team with the following team:

Four goals from Eugenie Le Sommer, two from Grace Geyoro, plus strikes from Valerie Gauvin, Elisa de Almeida, Kadidiatou Diani, Viviane Asseyi and Delphine Cascarino completed the rout.

Young players stepped up and shown that they could do the job. Eugénie Le Sommer’s four goals now sees her with a total of 86 goals with the French team.

For the big game against Austria, Wendie Renard and Marion Torrent were back in the team at the start of the game against Austria. Yet, strangely star players Delphine Cascarino, Amel Majri and Marie-Antoinette Katoto were not. The result was a 0–0 draw.

So, France have still not qualified for the European Championships and will have to win against Austria in France in November. Some people put the blame on Corinne Diacre the French Coach, arguing that her selection and the way she manages the team is the sole reason for the result against Austria this week.

Above: France’s Olympique Lyonnais star Delphine Cascarino in action against Austria earlier this week. Photo via: @delphsix

For me, I believe that nothing is black or white but grey, meaning that there is more than one reason for such problems, and based on what we saw during and since World Cup in France, I would say that our team and our players may not be as strong as some people say.

I hope that the future will prove me wrong and that we will win in 2022 in England.

Jean-Pierre’s biog details can be found on our page about all our writers here: https://impetus885775742.wordpress.com/about-our-contributors/

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