Olympics: Quick Notes On France’s Tune-Up Matches

In July, France played three tune-up friendlies, all at home: a 6:0 win against Romania on July 4th, a 3:0 victory over Russia on July 11th, and a 2:0 win versus Japan on July 19th. This post is primarily a quick review of those three matches, along with a summary table of minutes played, and thoughts on France’s likely starting line-up in their opening match against the United States.

France’s group match versus the United States will kick-off on July 25th at noon Eastern. That match can be seen live on NBC Sports Network.

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July 4th: FRANCE 6, Romania 0.
Goals: Thomis (22′), Le Sommer (29′, 41′), Necib (33′), Franco (62′), Catala (68′).
FFF.fr film du match, FFF.fr highlight video.

Starting Line-Up: Bouhaddi; Franco, Renard, Meilleroux (capt.), Bompastor; Bussaglia, Abily; Thomis, Necib, Thiney; Le Sommer.

Remarks: This is the only match of the three that Le Sommer started up top.

July 11th: FRANCE 3, Russia 0.
Goals: Thiney (11′), Delie (22′, 41′).
FFF.fr film du match, FFF.fr highlight video.

Starting Line-Up: Bouhaddi; Franco, Georges, Renard, Bompastor; Bussaglia, Abily; Le Sommer, Necib, Thiney (capt.); Delie.

July 19th: FRANCE 2, Japan 0.
Goals: Delie (24′), Renard (73′).
FFF.fr film du match, FFF.fr highlight video.

Starting Line-Up: Bouhaddi; Franco, Renard, Meilleroux (capt.), Bompastor; Bussaglia, Abily; Thomis, Necib, Thiney; Delie.

Remarks: The second goal was via a corner kick header.

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Veteran captain Sandrine Soubeyrand has not played in any tune-up matches due to a thigh issue and will likely miss the USA-France match. Soubeyrand “souffre d’une contracture à une cuisse” (football.fr), which translates to “suffered a contracture in a thigh.” (Though, contracture can also be translated as “spasm,” but “spasm” specifically in French is spasme.)  A contracture is when a muscle tightens up permanently, thus limiting the range of motion. This more recent football.fr article (19-July) indicates that Soubeyrand is still questionable for the USA-France match.

Table: France’s Olympic Roster, Playing Time In Recent Matches

PLAYER                 S#   P.   ROU   RUS   JPN   Total
--- Goalkeepers ----------------------------------------
Bouhaddi, Sarah        18   GK    45    90    90     225
Deville, Celine         1   GK    45     0     0      45
--- Defenders ------------------------------------------
Bompastor, Sonia        8   DF    61    45    90     196
Franco, Corine          7   DF    64    63    90     217
Georges, Laura          4   DF    45    77    25     147
Meilleroux, Ophelie     5   DF    45    45    65     155
Renard, Wendie          2   DF    75    90    90     255
Viguier, Sabrina       16   DF    15    27     0      42
--- Midfielders ----------------------------------------
Abily, Camille         10   MF    45    90    89     224
Boulleau, Laure         3   MF    29    45     1      75
Bussaglia, Elise       15   MF    90    45    90     225
Catala, Camille        13   MF    26    45     5      76
Necib, Louisa          14   MF    90    45    85     220
Soubeyrand, Sandrine    6   MF     0     0     0       0
--- Forwards -------------------------------------------
Delie, Marie-Laure     11   FW    45    90    52     187
Le Sommer, Eugenie      9   FW    45    63    38     146
Thiney, Gaetane        17   FW    90    45    90     225
Thomis, Elodie         12   FW    90    45    90     225
--- Alternates -----------------------------------------
Gadea, Kelly           19   DF     0    13     0      13
Soyer, Julie           20   DF    45     0     0      45
Makanza, Marina        21   FW     0    27     0      27
Philippe, Laetitia     22   GK     0     0     0       0

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As far as whom Bruno Bini will start next Wednesday, the least settled positions are at centerback, on the wings, and up top.

For the central defense, Wendie Renard seems to be a likely starter, withe either Opehlie Meilleroux or Laura Georges joining her.  Meilleroux seems a slightly more likely choice, given that she started the match, and has twice worn the captain’s armband during France’s tune-up matches. (In last year’s Women’s World Cup semifinal, both Meilleroux and Georges started, while Renard went unused as a substitute.)

Up top, the starting center forward position will probably be given to Marie-Laurie Delie, although Eugenie Le Sommer may possibly start in Delie’s place. Le Sommer could also start out on the right wing, but Elodie Thomis seems more likely for that spot. Out on the left wing, Gaetane Thiney has that starting position basically locked up.

However, if veteran captain Sandrine Soubeyrand is healthy and Bini starts her, then he could move Abily to the right wing, which is where Abily was used during most of the 2011 Women’s World Cup.

The other more settled positions are goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi, who returned from Bini’s wilderness after the last Women’s World Cup; right fullback Corine Franco, who replaces the injured Laura LePailleur; holding midfielder Elise Bussaglia; and playmaking midfielder Louisa Necib.

The likely line-up (4-2-3-1):

Bouhaddi (GK)
Franco (RB) — Renard (CB) — Meilleroux (CB) — Bompastor (LB)
Abily (CM) — Bussaglia (HM)
Thomis (RM) — Necib (AM) — Thiney (LM)
Delie (FW)

Comparatively, the line-up from the Women’s World Cup semifinal:

Sapowicz (GK)
LePailleur (RB) — Georges (CB) — Meilleroux (CB) — Bompastor (LB)
Soubeyrand (HM) — Bussaglia (HM)
Abily (RM) — Necib (AM) — Thiney (LM)
Delie (FW)

LePailleur (injury) and Sapowicz (retired from international soccer) are not on the Olympic roster.