By Thomas Reynolds
Last Updated: 4th June 2019
Ahead of a 2019 Women’s World Cup on home soil, 10/3 outright betting favourites France have many similarities with the Spain men’s team that were crowned world champions nine years ago.
Back then La Roja represented the core of a continent-bestriding club colossus – minus its supreme talent – that defied the burden of favouritism in South Africa.
Now, the onus is on Les Bleus to do the same and convert Lyon’s absolute mastery of European women’s football into a maiden World Cup.
Lyon Feminin – more dominant than Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona
Corrine Diacre’s (pictured above) French squad will feature no fewer than eight members of a Lyon side that’s ruled the continent without mercy in recent seasons.
The Barcelona side that underpinned Spain’s success in 2010 won two Champions Leagues and three La Liga crowns in three seasons between 2008/09 and 2010/11.
However, the OL side which Sarah Bouhaddi, Amel Majri, Griedge Mbock Bathy, Wendie Renard, Amandine Henry, Delphine Cascarino, Eugénie Le Sommer and Sakina Karchaoui represent has been more dominant and for longer.
Leaving aside a period of domestic omnipotence that’s seen them win every Division 1 title since 2006/07, they’ve now won four Champions Leagues in succession.
Like Spain in 2010 they’re missing their Messi – and maybe their Iniesta too
Another thing Diacre has in common with Spain boss in South Africa Vicente del Bosque is the need to recalibrate most of the ingredients of a super successful side to perform without the star around which all of them orbit at club level.
Lyon’s Lionel Messi is Ada Hegerberg, winner of the inaugural Ballon d’Or Feminin, second-top scorer in this season’s Champions League and netter of 130 league goals in 105 games for her club.
Norwegian Hegerberg is boycotting the Women’s World Cup as part of an ongoing protest against the disparity between the treatment of the genders by her nation’s football association.
Diacre’s handicap in being without her Messi may be alleviated by Hegerberg’s absence, but Lyon’s Iniesta, Dzsenifer Marozsán will be on number 10 duties for Germany.
Paris FC’s Gaëtane Thiney will likely fill that role in Marozsán’s absence, although creativity in terms of assists may be more forthcoming from wide areas, where winger Cascarino and Montepellier right back Marion Torrent have chipped in plenty in recent outings.
Much like with Spain in 2010, the absence of their Messi figure means that France have occasionally struggled for cutting edge against the better sides despite their brilliance in the build-up.
Les Bleus were shut out by Germany on home soil in a February friendly and, like La Roja in 2010, finding a way to break down well-organised defences will likely be their chief challenge if they are land their first World Cup.
However, 3-1 victories against traditional powerhouses of the women’s game, Japan and the USA, since the turn of the year show just how ruthless they can be.