No coronation for the French women's football team, which sinks to Spain in the final of the League of Nations

Until further notice, the prize list of the French women's football team remains empty

No coronation for the French women's football team, which sinks to Spain in the final of the League of Nations

Until further notice, the prize list of the French women's football team remains empty. Facing the Spanish world champions, Les Bleues never believed victory was possible, Wednesday February 28, in the final of the first Women’s Nations League. Overwhelmed by the technical mastery and commitment of La Roja, Hervé Renard's players experienced all the difficulty in the world to exist in front of the 32,657 Sevillian spectators at the Cartuja stadium. They logically lost (0-2).

“We didn’t have a non-match, we played against a world champion team which flies far above women’s football,” noted the French coach after the match. We took one step, we didn’t take the second…” Qualified for the final, his flock did not know how – or were not able – to win the first title in their history.

Between 1983 and 2019, the Blues had never lost against Spain: 10 victories and three draws. But this Spanish team has nothing to do with its predecessors, and women's football has progressed at great speed on the other side of the Pyrenees in recent years.

Enough to put a blow to the morale of Captain Eugénie Le Sommer. “They had a good game, they were better than us tonight. It’s hard but that’s how it is, admitted the attacker at the microphone of W9. It’s difficult to see anything positive this evening, we came here to win, we’re disappointed…”

At the Paris Olympic Games, which French footballers dream of winning in a few months, providence would be generous to place the teammates of the Golden Ball Aitana Bonmati as far as possible on their course. Why not for a revenge in a new final. “In football, anything is possible. Spain will once again be the team to beat at the Olympics, Renard admitted on Wednesday. The task will not be easy. We will have to progress further and learn lessons. »

The Bonmati Golden Ball reigns on the pitch

In Seville, a traumatic city if ever there was one for French football since the 1982 World Cup semi-final lost by the Blues to Germany, the scenario of this final was predictable. A few days after a semi-final logically won against the Germans (2-1), it was confirmed without delay. And the ball was confiscated by the locals, in the purest Spanish tradition. Technically, La Roja has no equivalent in the world. And in front of her, the teammates of captain Eugénie Le Sommer had a lot of difficulty existing, getting the ball out and simply passing each other.

Stifled by the opposing pressure, the French spent the first period chasing that cursed ball. Opposite, like an octopus that did not end up on the menu of a tapas bar in the Andalusian capital, Aitana Bonmati reigned supreme. The Catalan knows how to do everything on the pitch: she dictates the rhythm, recovers balls, distributes the play, looks for the last passes and even emerges in the center forward position to score.

In the 8th minute of play, it was she who offered the first blow, with a superb hidden pass for Mariona Caldentey whose back cross, taken by Salma Paralluelo, was blocked at the last minute by Amandine Henry and Griedge Mbock.

Shortly after half an hour of play, Aitana Bonmati was at the conclusion of a school action, carried out to perfection. Launched in depth, Olga Carbona crosses back for Bonmati who projects and gets ahead of the French defense to open the score (1-0, 32nd). Five minutes earlier, a corner from Paralluelo had been headed by Irene Paredes, also in defense, directly onto Pauline Peyraud-Magnin's post. Multiplying the opportunities, La Roja puts the French defense to torture.

And the punishment comes only a few minutes after returning from the locker room. Precise and fast, the Spanish use the flanks wonderfully. Right winger, Athenea del Castillo sends a perfect cross to her counterpart in the left lane, Mariona Caldentey, who deceives Peyraud-Magnin with a cross shot (2-0, 53rd).

Since their world title in August 2023 in Australia, the Spanish team of coach Montserrat Tomé have won six of their seven matches, only losing – surprisingly – to Italy (3-2) in December.

Olympic goal for the Blues

Before the match, coach Hervé Renard wanted to believe in the defensive fragility of his opponent: “It’s a team that scores a lot of goals but also concedes a lot. » In Seville, their Blues were unable to create a clear scoring opportunity, despite a slight improvement in the game after the entries into play of Delphine Cascarino and Kenza Dali in place of Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Amandine Henry (58th), who celebrated his hundredth selection. Those later by Julie Dufour and Amel Majri were not enough to reverse the course of the match either.

Largely dominated, the French footballers must now get back to work. They can console themselves for having been beaten by the best in women's football, a selection – number 1 in the FIFA rankings – which is once again seeking victory in the summer Olympic tournament.

This League of Nations was still an opportunity to take a step forward. By reaching a final for the first time, the Blues did better than their semi-finals at the 2011 World Cup, the 2012 Olympic Games and Euro 2022. In Paris, a course at least similar would be synonymous with an Olympic medal . A result, in the absence of a coronation, which could be enough for their happiness.