Now that we’ve all had a chance to breath, to pick up those chairs we’ve knocked over, to put away our respirators, and to go to the local grocer to buy more tissues after the United States Women’s National Team pulled off, in simple terms, one heck of a win over Brazil. The Yanks now face a French team that showed guts, not more than the English team they beat in penalty kicks, but are arguably the most skilled team and possess the most skilled free kick specialist and some of the most deadly wingers in the tournament.
The first thing you notice when you’re watching Les Bleues play isn’t there
absolutely stunning, eye-catching jerseys, it’s the team’s equally stunning midfielder, Louisa Necib. The French-Algerian who plays her club football for Lyon is unmistakably France’s catalyst and most important player. When Necib is dishing out passes, spraying them with astonishing ease, Les Bleues are at their best. While I am utterly distracted whenever she has the ball, I feel lucky. Not because of her looks, but because of what she does when possession is hers.
Up front, France has the speedy Marie-Laure Delie, whose scoring record goes noticed by opponents, but they fail to do anything about it. In 24 appearances for the French National Team, Edlie has tallied 23 goals, two in this World Cup against Nigeria and Germany.
Gaetane Thiney, the normal left winger for France, is often a target for Necib. Scoring a double in the game against Canada where France won 4-0, advancing to the knockout round, Thiney proved to be an nuisance for the Canadian defense. Giving Thiney room to run is a mistake. With her speed and quickness she eased around defenders like they were apparitions instead of players. For the United States, this is a reason for alarm.
With Rachel Buehler out of tomorrow’s match with a red card from the infamous Brazil match, US coach Pia Sundhage announced that Becky Sauerbrunn will be the fill-in.
Sauerbrunn obviously has skill to be on the team, but the 26-year-old has yet to make an appearance in the World Cup, and against the French, experience is paramount. If Sauerbrunn, Ali Krieger, Christie Rampone and Amy LePeilbet – the assumed starters – can play as a unit, getting the job done defensively, the Yanks can cross Priority No. 1 off their list. If the offense is neutralized then US keeper, Hope Solo’s job won’t prove difficult. After all, the Yanks deserve to give her a rest.
Ryan Fleming can be reached at Ryan.Fleming@thesoccerguysonline.com.