League of Nations: against Germany, the Blue qualify for the first final in their history

The first trophy of Les Bleues is within reach

League of Nations: against Germany, the Blue qualify for the first final in their history

The first trophy of Les Bleues is within reach. In Décines-Charpieu (Rhône) in front of some 30,000 supporters – a new attendance record in France outside the World Cup – the French women’s team qualified on Friday February 23 for its first continental final.

The opponent, Germany, is nevertheless prestigious, one of the sure values ​​of women's football but the French team managed to convert its technical superiority into the result (2-1) thanks to goals from Kadidiatou Diani and Sakina Karchaoui. And Hervé Renard's players were then able to resist the German reaction in the second period, despite Giulia Gwinn's reduction in the score.

“We were very valiant,” said the coach. I was convinced that they would qualify for the final. I thank them for that. They played the match that was expected of them. They overcame the German curse and managed to reach a first final. »

Still second in the FIFA rankings – thanks in particular to its place as finalist in Euro 2022 where it eliminated France in the semi-final – the German team is going through a difficult period since its sad elimination in the first round of the last Cup of the world, in 2023, in Australia.

Dominant, although messy for forty minutes, the French team needed some fine adjustments to gain the upper hand. It was a Lyon player – this semi-final took place in the OL stadium – who caused the spark. Diani did not tremble when taking back, with power and precision, with a superb half-volley a ball poorly returned by the opposing defense for the opener (1-0, 41st).

Superb goal from Diani

A few minutes later, the German goalkeeper, Merle Frohms, lost for the second time of the evening. In the absence of the injured Wendie Renard, captain Eugénie Le Sommer presses a defender, recovers the ball and throws Grace Geyoro into the penalty area.

The PSG player is cut down without finesse by Lena Oberdorf. The penalty was narrowly converted by another Parisian, left side Sakina Karchaoui for the knockout goal, in the final seconds of stoppage time in the first period (2-0, 45th 4). “We have made progress over the past six months. Our first half was very successful, analyzed Renard. Afterwards we moved back a little. »

Before these two tricolor flashes, the players of coach Hervé Renard multiplied the crosses without ever really worrying Merle Frohms, like the last pass attempts of Elisa De Almeida (17th), Kadidiatou Diani (7th) or Eugénie Le Sommer (37th).

Far from being brilliant in the game, the Germans nevertheless managed to appear threatening in a few situations. A cross from Sarai Linder on which the goalkeeper, Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, misses. An error which allows Alexandra Popp to place a powerful header, just wide, on the following corner (14th).

In the 32nd minute, it took a muscular return from Diani to counter the Linder side in the middle of the penalty area. And another from Griedge Mbock to prevent Lea Schüller from going alone on goal (38th).

With self-sacrifice, coach Horst Hrubesch's players tried to reverse the trend in the second half. Their first attempts were not crowned with success. Twice, Alexandra Popp failed to reduce the score: first at close range blocked by the rapid exit of Peyraud-Magnin (53rd) and then, unluckily, with a powerful shot which found the crossbar (72nd).

Final against Spain

It was a French error which gave them hope at a tense end to the match. On an aerial ball, Amandine Henry's head is too short and the ball finally hits her hand. The second penalty of the evening was scored by Giulia Gwinn (2-1, 82nd). Courageously, the Germans tried everything to equalize. In vain, even if the inevitable Alexandra Popp forces Peyraud-Magnin to make a delicate save on a free kick (87th).

At the end of a semi-final which they generally mastered, the Blue qualified for the final of this first Women's Nations League. On February 28 in Seville, since Spain eliminated the Netherlands (3-0), they will have the difficult task of measuring themselves against the Spanish world champions.

A challenge, as Hervé Renard asserts: “We have to have confidence in ourselves. We face the world champions, unstoppable for several months. It’s a great challenge to take on with enormous determination. » And an excellent rehearsal before the summer meeting this summer, during the Paris 2024 Olympic tournament.