If you truly believe in France, your glass is half full heading into the quarterfinals. Sure, they had a meltdown against the United States, but they hadn’t faced an attack like that in forever and it was the first game of the tournament. They struggled against North Korea, but eventually buried them and would have done the same against Colombia if they could have finished one of their 612 (estimated) chances in the game.
However, if your glass is half empty, Alex Morgan, Abby Wambach, and crew exposed a relatively slow and quite average international defense. Their inability to really put away North Korea and Colombia also shows that while they’re obviously one of the most improved teams in the world in the last few years, they’re not ready to win a gold medal here at the Olympics, especially with a bracket that includes Sweden, Brazil, and Japan. Maybe in three years.
Where do I stand? Safe to say somewhere in the middle. How’s that for a cop-out?
1) This could have been a big scoreline
Even with a couple of changes (smart to give some rest here), France came out looking to prove their worth. I’m still not sure how Gaetane Thiney missed a chance in the first couple of minutes, Elodie Thomis left the Colombian defense in the dust for the goal a couple of minutes later, and Colombia was all over the place several other times in the first 20 minutes. They played much more quickly than they did in the first two games, and it was by far Louisa Necib’s best performance of the tournament. Yet it ended 1-0, which had to be more than a little disappointing for the French.
2) Bruno Bini has a couple of tough choices to make
Again, France looked about 10 times better with Camile Abily in a holding midfield spot behind Necib (with Sandrine Soubeyrand and Elise Bussaglia basically splitting time at the other spot). Watching Elodie Thomis rampage up and down the wing makes you wonder why she doesn’t play 90 minutes every match. But, of course, as Bini knows, those are observations against an outclassed Colombia squad, just as it was against North Korea. Does he feel he needs two strong defensive midfielders in Bussaglia and Soubeyrand against Sweden, or someone that might give him more cover on the wings in Eugenie Le Sommer (in place of Thomis)? I would say no, but I’m an ocean and five time zones away. Never dull with France. Well, except for the first half against North Korea, I guess.
3) Colombia was very disappointing
They were the up and comers, the new Brazil at the World Cup last year, but now they’ve played six games at major tournaments and haven’t even scored a goal. If you end it there, that’s not necessarily terrible, they can build off it going forward toward Canada in 2015, but you’ve got things like the Lady Andrade-Abby Wambach incident to remember them by. You’ve got questions about their training and federation (like Brazil), and you’ve got the whole Yoreli Rincon distraction, to which I actually feel bad for Ricardo Rozo a little, I wasn’t all that impressed by her at the World Cup, so I can understand her not being an automatic selection. But my hopes of finding a new team (not in Europe) to rise up and become a world threat doesn’t seem to be with Colombia. South America has 2.5 berths in 2015, keep an eye on Chile, who seems to be what Colombia was a couple of years ago. Hopefully, Colombia can figure it out.
Stats and more stats
France took a whopping 28 shots in this game, but only hit the target with 10 of them. Somehow the possession was only 56-44 for France, though.