France vs Nigeria….20.00GMT
The French female football team known as Les Bleues are looking to get the maximum points from the match today to be held Roazhon Park but for the Super Falcons of Nigeria it would be a deciding game as to whether they would go home or continue with the tournament as African favourites.
The Les Bleues have once thrashed the Falcons 8-0 when they last met in a friendly in 2018 have an upper hand in this match from winning their last 2 matches while the Falcons lost against Norway and won their match against Korea Republic.
Despite the fact that the core of the national team is formed of players from Lyon – arguably the best team in Europe in recent seasons – France have not gone past the last eight in any of the recent major tournaments. One main reason for that is the lack of efficiency up front in key games but, under the coach, Corinne Diacre, they have worked hard to rectify that. By mid-May, they had scored at least one goal or more in 19 of their 21 most recent games.
The team has a great mix of creativity and solidity in all areas. Defensively, France are a strong unit with Renard and Griedge Mbock forming a great central partnership, as they do on daily basis at Lyon. Amel Majri, in the left side, is also good at initiating counter-attacks.
The midfield is led by the hard-working Amandine Henry, who was named captain by Diacre, replacing Renard. Henry, known for her powerful shot, is often paired with Elise Bussaglia, at 33 the oldest player in the squad and who has been playing international football since 2003.
Up front, Diacre is spoilt for choice. Eugénie Le Sommer, Valérie Gauvin, Kadi Diani, Delphine Cascarino and Gaëtane Thiney offer France different pairings with Lyon’s Le Sommer and Cascarino able to play as wingers. Thiney can be the playmaker or a supporting offensive midfielder. Montpellier’s Gauvin has won a place in the starting XI thanks to her aerial skills, combativeness and physical strength while PSG’s Diani is another option as a central attacker. She never disappoints.
Diacre’s coaching style is very similar to that of Didier Deschamps, even down to the words she uses in press conferences and with the players. She, like Deschamps, has opted to select the squad she thinks has a best chance to win the World Cup rather than the best individual players. Barcelona’s experienced midfielder Kheira Hamraoui has not been picked for the tournament and the D1 top scorer, Marie Katoto from PSG, will not be there either.
Diacre has a very strong squad at her disposal but how the players react to the pressure of being the hosts and one of the favourites may be decisive to how far they go in the tournament. A nation expects.
Based on Logistics
France: Sitting pretty atop the group with six points, a draw will win them the group and put them on track to potentially play the United States in the quarterfinals. This team has been efficient in attack and has only conceded an own goal in the tournament. This is a match where they should also be able to get a comfortable scoreline.
Nigeria: The win over South Korea has given them life, and while they may end up being OK to move on as a third place, it is crucial they don’t hurt their goal differential too much. Even losing 2-0 may enough to knock them out. A draw will likely be enough to move on to the round of 16, but that’s going to require an all-out defensive performance.