After a tumultuous period in the French football federation with their president Noel Le Graet resigning and several players stepping down from the national team, Herve Renard comes in to introduce a new dawn for the side starting with the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The biggest international event for women’s football. If not the favourites, France will certainly be an ambitious group to script stories in the tournament.
France have qualified for their third consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cup and the fourth one in total. Les Bleues' highest finish in the tournament is the fourth place achieved at the 2011 edition in Germany. They have ended at the quarter-final stage in each of the last two editions with the last one held at their own turf. France’s first appearance at this competition came in this century itself in 2003 when their run ended at the group stages. Overall, the nation from Western Europe have scored 32 goals with 10 wins from 19 games. Marie-Laure Delie and Eugenie Le Sommer are the joint-highest scorers in the World Cup for the national team with five goals each.
In front of the home fans, France’s journey in the 2019 World Cup ended at the quarterfinal stage, beaten 2-1 by eventual winners the United States. Megan Rapinoe scored a fantastic brace while Wendie Renard’s 81st-minute header proved too little too late for the match. Till then, it was smooth running for Les Blues as they topped their group winning three out of three against Norway, Nigeria and South Korea. Also remarkably, France eliminated Brazil from the round of 16 stage with Amandine Henry scoring the decider in extra-time after the full-time score remained 1-1.
Qualification for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup
The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualification was swift for France as they bossed their group by winning every game. Finishing 10 points clear of second-placed Wales, the Euro 2022 semi-finalists scored 54 goals and conceded just four simultaneously. Marie-Antoinette Katoto ended as the top-scorer for them with 10 goals to her name.
Preparation for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup
France have played eight games so far since their elimination by Germany in Euro 2022. They lost to Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s side once again after sealing their World Cup qualification. However, the side are unbeaten in the last six matches. Herve Renard’s first game in charge came against Canada in an international friendly in April. He got the perfect start for France as they registered a 2-1 victory. France have two more friendlies in July before the group stages. They had a 3-0 success against Ireland while the other match with co-hosts Australia is on the 14th of the same month.
France 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup Squad
Goalkeepers: Pauline Peyraud-Magnin (Juventus), Solene Durand (Guingamp), Constance Picaurd (Paris Saint-Germain)
Defenders: Eve Perisset (Chelsea), Elisa de Almeida (Paris Saint-Germain), Maelle Lakrar (Montpellier), Estelle Cascarino (Paris Saint-Germain), Wendie Renard (Olympique Lyonnais), Selma Bacha (Olympique Lyonnais), Sakina Karchaoui (Paris Saint-Germain)
Midfielders: Laurina Fazer (Paris Saint-Germain), Amel Majri (Olympique Lyonnais), Grace Geyoro (Paris Saint-Germain), Kenza Dali (Aston Villa), Lea Le Garrec (Fleury Merogis), Sandie Toletti (Real Madrid)
Forwards: Eugenie Le Sommer (Olympique Lyonnais), Clara Mateo (Paris FC), Vivanne Asseyi (West Ham), Vicki Becho (Olympique Lyonnais), Naomie Feller (Real Madrid), Kadidiatou Diani
Head coach: Hervie Renard
The big news from the French camp is that Marie-Antoinette Katoto is not able to make the squad. The top performer in the Euros, Katoto has been side-lined since the tournament last summer incidentally with a cruciate ligament injury. The same problem has also caused Delphine Cascarino, another key member of the national team, to miss the World Cup. Star defender Griedge Mbock is out too with a season-ending injury. The most unfortunate news is of Amandine Henry who was included in the final list but had to withdraw with a calf injury, another huge blow for France. Defender Aissatou Tounkara has been called in instead after not being selected earlier. Melvine Malard and Sandy Baltimore have also not made the cut while Mylene Chavas and Oriane Jean-Francois were omitted from the initial squad. However, France are able to bring back the duo of Kadidiatou Diani and Wendie Renard after both decided to step down while revolting against the decisions of the board. The all-time top scorer for the side, Eugenie Le Sommer is recalled to the squad having been overlooked during the Euro 2022.
The appointment of Herve Renard was enough to raise the energy level of the squad after a long period of a fractured relationship with the previous management. Renard was already a top personnel in a role but his fame shot up in the 2022 Men’s World Cup when his Saudi Arabia team pulled off one of the greatest upsets in tournament history by beating eventual winners Argentina 2-1. Having that kind of figure will be a motivation for the side. Another key factor will be the return of Le Sommer and Henry in the squad, the two senior-most players with a bag full of experience. Blended with the youth, this French team looks a lot stronger than last summer.
Even with the reinsertion of Le Sommer, the goal-scoring prominence of Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Delphine Cascarino will be missed. Katoto was in inspiring form in Euro 2022 and the goals dried up for France deeper into the contest once her injury was confirmed in the tournament. The defence can be a concern for the side with Wendie Renard looking for an ideal partner at centre-back for the tournament without Mbock in the side. Henry’s withdrawal due to injury will also lead to a midfield shake-up.
After Katoto was side-lined with a cruciate ligament injury in Euro 2022, Kadidiatou Diani had the responsibility to take the team forward. She will be front and centre for the side again along with the experience baggers. Her dribbling, pace and skills caused havoc for the opposition last summer with her 17 goals in the league this term showing her clinical nature as well. The 28-year-old also scored four goals in seven appearances in PSG’s run to the quarterfinals of the 2022/23 Women’s Champions League. Without Cascarino and some of the other forwards in the squad, Diani’s duties double up as she hopes to create a flamboyant partnership with Le Sommer up front.
How will France line up at the 2023 Women’s World Cup?
Herve Renard is likely to use more attacking formation with the wealth of talent he has for France’s women's squad in all sectors than the men’s team of Saudi Arabia. A 4-2-3-1 formation is likely but te manager could stick to the erstwhile 4-3-3 with Grace Geyoro and Kenza Dali entering the midfield. In any case, the left wing opens up the possibility without any go-to player for the position. Lyon’s Amel Majri is tipped to slot in the role to join Le Sommer and Diani up top. Competition remains at the back four with Elisa de Almeida looking to partner Wendie Renard in centre-back while Sakina Karachoui could get replaced by Selma Bacha at left-back.
2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup France Fixtures
Sunday, 23 July 2023
France vs Jamaica
Wednesday, 29 July 2023
France vs Brazil
2 August 2023
Panama vs France
France play Jamaica in their opening game at the 2023 FIFA World Cup in Australia & New Zealand which no way will be easy for them. Still, Les Blues should get over the challenge from the African side to meet in a colossal battle with Brazil in the second matchup. The fixture will probably decide the group at the end. France are going to face the Selecao for the third time in the competition and defeated them in the last edition. The third game against Panama could play to their advantage for the top place as Brazil play Jamaica in the final match which can turn out to be a banana skin for them.
France are in a challenging group and has to work hard to fend off Brazil for the top spot. Jamaica are also capable of pulling upsets, especially with their deadly striker Khadija Shaw. Les Bleues will escape the group stages but their survival in the knockout stages could be in danger if they finish second. In that case, Herve Renard's side might have to face Germany in the round of 16 who is expected to win Group H. Even with the talent they have, it might not be enough to get past any of the favourites for the contest unless their manager can produce another miracle of immense magnitude.