Oranje and hopes

Facing the European champions in title Dutch, the Blue ones do not leave favorites, but they have a big blow to play. Many are indeed the tricolors who are playing their first major tournament and therefore, without complex, if not that of breaking the glass ceiling of the quarter-finals. Would we really be on 50-50 at kickoff. Ball in the middle!

07/23/2022 at 9 p.m.

Euro 2022

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It’s a game of mirrors that was played out in the pre-match conference. When asked who was REALLY the favorite team for this quarter-final, Mark Parsons, coach of the Netherlands, began by listing the excellent performances chained by the Orange Lionesses for whom he has been in charge since September 2021: “European champions five years ago, World Cup finalists three years ago, quarter-finalists at the Olympic Games last year… But in recent months, we have entered a new era, with a new very different group. » The following confirms this botage in touch well felt: “The most important thing to do tomorrow (Saturday) will be to represent the identity of this team, which is: camaraderie with energy. Every time they play anywhere in the world they are backed by an orange tide, and that will be the case again against France. So it will be an exciting challenge. » Corinne Deacon, she unsurprisingly got rid of a psychological weight: “From my point of view, we have a football match to play. The Netherlands being holders of the title, if there must be a favorite, it would therefore rather be them, especially since, we, we are constantly told that we cannot pass the quarters of final. »

A few days earlier, at the base camp of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, the young midfielder Ella Palis, who entered the second half against Iceland, tried to be a bit more positive: “We haven’t participated in previous tournaments, and each competition is different, so there’s no point in talking about what happened before. We have a quarter-final to play and a goal: to pass it. I don’t think we can say that we don’t have the pressure, but it has to galvanize us so that we get the best out of ourselves. » The same goes for his young partner Selma Bacha who, like Palis and seven other Bleues, is currently experiencing her first experience in a major tournament: “We believe in it because if we don’t believe in it, no one believes in it. This group has something, it is full of qualities and solidarity, it is our greatest strength. I think the fans have seen that we have a big mind and that we never give up. So we’ll be there. »

experience and innocence

Such a speech would reinforce the Dutch journalists in their overall feeling, according to which France is indeed the favorite against the Orange Lionesses who have been struggling to convince since the departure of Sarina Wiegman to England. Before facing the Blues, Mark Parsons’ record is indeed hardly exciting: “only” ten victories in seventeen games, to which must be added a slap received against the Three Lionesses (5-1) during the pre-Euro dress rehearsal, as well as worrying draws against Japan and the Czech Republic. Not to mention a defeat against Les Bleues during the Tournoi de France last February. But watch out for the injured animal: “We still have to improve on the pitch. But the higher the opponent’s level, the stronger my team. I’m much less stressed when you play a big team. I have great confidence in my players.” , warned Mark Parsons. In the group, only central defender Aniek Nouwen and right-back Lynn Wilms really act as new blood. The rest of the XI is pretty much the same since Euro 2017. Against a French side next-gen modeled by Corinne Deacon for three years, we could put a coin on the victory of players who will evolve without complex to write their own history, rather than carrying the weight of the past and previous failures.

And because every bad thing is good, the French could benefit from a helping hand from fate, at least on a psychological level: elected best player of Euro 2017, Lieke Martens is out of the rest of the tournament. following a foot injury. Not bad to counterbalance the absence of Marie-Antoinette Katoto, already more or less palliated by Melvine Malard, who could continue on the front of the tricolor attack. Opposite, the question arises for the serial Arsenal striker Vivianne Miedema, tested positive for Covid and released from isolation just three days before the match. Mark Parsons, however, wanted to be reassuring in considering that “There’s a chance it’s available, but not sure if it’s going to start yet.” We checked a lot of boxes for his return, but there are still a few left. » In full possession of his means? Nothing is less sure.

Reassuring for Les Bleues, especially given the poor performance delivered by her appointed replacement Lineth Beerensteyn against Switzerland. “To say that the Dutch absences do not change anything would be to lieentrusted Grace Geyoro to Ashby-de-la-Zouch. Martens is a great player and not having her face us can be an asset. Faced with a big team like that, there won’t be a lot of opportunities, so it’s up to us to put them to the bottom by starting very concentrated from the start! » Especially when you know that, unlike the French, the Dutch know how to score in the second period. A lot even: exactly five times out of eight. Against zero for the Blue, remember. But as Wendie Renard and her teammates like to repeat over and over again: “With the quarter-finals, a new competition is beginning. » It is therefore not too late to reverse the trend. And write the story along the way?

But why do the French travel so little?

By Julien Duez, in Rotherham

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