Women’s World Cup Preview Lite: USA vs. France

TSG’s Maura Gladys with a peek into the US ladies’ match-up with France

It’d be nice to just stay suspended in the few days after the United States’ monumental win over Brazil, relishing the glory and beauty of the performance. But alas, it’s on to Mönchengladbach and a semifinal date with France.

Look up "Frenchman" in the dictionary and it's nearly a fait accompli that you'll get the mug of France coach Bruno Bini...

Les Bleus is definitely not the opponent that the U.S. expected to see in the semifinals, but the team has been playing attractive, smooth soccer and have a style that could potentially cause the U.S. some headaches.

France is both technically sound and tactically aware, thanks to its coach, Bruno Bini. Bini encourages creativity and inspiration from the squad as long as they have the discipline to recover seamlessly. The general rule of thumb is, “Be creative, go with the ball, but when you lose possession, cover the zone you’re in.”


On the Women’s World Cup: TSG’s Shaun Webb says, “the team that dances together, wins together.”


Nowhere is that creativity fostered more than with Louisa Necib. Necib is the lynchpin of France’s offense and almost all attacks go through her.  The key battle of the game could boil down to Necib against Shannon Boxx. If Boxx can continue her excellent form she’ll cut off Necib’s supply to Camille Abily, Gaetane Thiney and Marie-Laure Delie. However, if her 33-year-old year old legs haven’t recovered and her form from the group games sneaks back in, it will be a long day for U.S. defenders.

The two key issues for the United States are recovery and mental approach. The game against Brazil was both physically and emotionally draining, but the squad needs to be at its best for France, who, despite also playing 120 minutes and going to penalty kicks, had an extra day to rest, and will be gunning to exploit the United States’ fatigue. With the trap-game moniker floating around as well, the United States needs to enter the match re-focused and re-energized

Sauerbrunn... already called on by Sundhage

Sundhage announced that Becky Sauerbrunn will start in place of the red-carded Rachel Buehler. No one expected Sauerbrunn to see any minutes this tournament, but Sundhage is again sticking to her “21-player deep” mantra. She does have an escape valve if Sauerbrunn struggles though. Amy LePeilbet, whose natural position is central defender, could slide into the middle, making room for Stephanie Cox on the left.

Megan Rapinoe’s recent play merits her re-insertion back into the starting lineup, but that doesn’t mean that she’ll get the start. A logical move would be to start Rapinoe at left wing, bump Lauren Cheney up to her natural position of forward and sit Amy Rodriguez. But Sundhage has been reluctant to sit A-Rod all tournament despite her poor finishing and blown chances.

Bini is sharp and knows how to key on his opponents weaknesses. Against England, France attacked primarily through the right side, in order to exploit the lack of pace of England’s left winger and fullback. Expect France to similarly target Sauerbrunn, by attempting to lure her out of an organized defense and play through that space.

But as we’ve learned, no amount of tactics or maneuvering can keep down a passionate, inspired American team.

15 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Smitty on 2011/07/12 at 9:33 AM

    Great analysis from Maura, as usual. I particularly appreciate the mention of the A-Rod problem. It is kind of the elephant in the room, IMO.


  2. Posted by Johninho on 2011/07/12 at 9:57 AM

    I’m begging you, Carli Lloyd, do not get double-yellowed tomorrow.


  3. Posted by largecharge on 2011/07/12 at 10:12 AM

    ‘…glory and beauty of the performance’ did you watch the same match?
    Rapinoe’s spectacular set-up, yes and Abby’s header under pressure, wondrous
    to behold.

    But to have a crucial match riddled with fakery, unprofessional umpiring, and
    ending it with a dubious shootout gives little satisfaction to truly determine the winner.

    That match revealed more of the weaknesses of championship futebol today than it
    crowned the true talent.

    Play on.


  4. Posted by acoupstick on 2011/07/12 at 11:29 AM

    Disagree regarding Rapinoe…she seems much more effective as a second half sub, although your points regarding ARod are well-taken. I have been unimpressed with Lloyd’s inability to put shots on frame. She needs to concentrate on good distribution. France’s defense strikes me as a bit soft so if the backline can hold up without Buehler and Boxx can maintain her form, we should be good to go.


  5. Posted by Antonio H. on 2011/07/12 at 12:00 PM

    Necib is indeed france’s own female version of Nasri/dare I say Zizou. She’s really nifty and technical with the ball at her feet, not to mention beautiful.


    • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/07/12 at 12:37 PM

      I appreciate the passion but as in most religions, and football/soccer is ours, the name of a God should only be invoked in prayer, worship or extreme times of danger. Let’s reserve the name of Zizou, (blessed be his golden boots) for those times alone.;<)
      We'll just say amend that to say…she reminds us of Nasri or dare I say…Ribery.
      Good stuff and looking forward to a good match.


      • Posted by kaya on 2011/07/12 at 12:50 PM

        Well, her background most closely resembles Zidane’s…
        nyut nyut nyut.
        I also might add on the 0-10 scale, she’s a lot closer to a Zidane than Nasri… I’m not even going to mention your other comparison!


      • Posted by Antonio H. on 2011/07/12 at 2:29 PM

        but Ribery scares babies….


  6. Posted by kaya on 2011/07/12 at 12:47 PM

    Agree on Necib, she’s my new girl-crush =)
    I’m completely undecided about how this match might shake out.
    I guess France didn’t play in the Algarve cup this year… I know historically we’ve matched up well against them in that cup, but I’m pretty impressed with Les Bleues.


  7. Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/07/12 at 1:01 PM

    I once again have to make my incessant plea to rewatch Shannon Boxx’s play throughout the group stages. Wasn’t a huge fan but on rewatch you’ll see that she spends a lot of time cleaning up Lloyd’s turnovers and poor positioning in the MF. She’s playing alongside a natural forward who doesn’t hold or maintain possession particularly well which for a CDM is pretty difficult. I think that they finally decided to just play her game on Sun and was huge at both ends. My WOM IMO.


  8. i had guessed lepeilbet in and cox at LB, which seems safer. sauerbrunn scares me in a BORNSTIEN kind of way
    but i havent seen her play so we shall see go USA

    also, that is QUITE a foursom: necib, thiney, abily, delie. not to mention le sommer and bompastor….AND the speedy thomis coming on late in the second half.

    i have really enjoyed watching Franch play and pulled for them too. NOW we must shut them down!


    • Posted by Andy_4Lakes on 2011/07/13 at 7:43 AM

      I know coach sweats’ changes vs. Mexico came during in-game (he had other options), but we saw the disastrous effect of changing positions of two players vs. one. I think the wiser choice is to bring in a player to replace Buehler rather than move a player to fill the spot AND bring in a new player.


      • Posted by Martin on 2011/07/15 at 4:06 PM

        Lichaj has spent most of his recent club time playing both right back and left back. One reason he is on the team is because of his versatility. JB’s last performance for the US in the World cup was competent. Spector’s last performance at right back for the US was crap.

        Lichaj was, not that long ago, touted as Dolo’s heir apparent (until Chandler showed up).

        I have no problem with the double switch but it was Lichaj, more than JB who was very disappointing that day.


  9. Posted by Nelson on 2011/07/13 at 8:43 AM

    is there a mixed comp. for the US 2012 Olympics. IF not, there SHOULD be….


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