TO ANALYZE – After a perfect start to the competition, the French team must compose without their top scorer. An absence that could weigh heavily on the end result.
Two games, two wins including a show of strength against Italy (5-1), the qualification for the quarterfinals validated even before the last Group D match against Iceland next Monday, and the icing on the cake a first place confirmed in the final whistle against Belgium on Thursday evening (2-1). Somehow, everything was going too well for the French team at Roterham. This Friday, if necessary, the blues have returned to earth. Heavily. Now orphaned by her center forward and head of the media gondola, Marie-Antoinette Katoto, scorer against Italy in her first match in a major international competition.
Touched in the right knee in the first quarter of an hour against Belgium in a harmless action – a simple call in depth immediately stopped by a pain as acute as sudden – the Parisian suffers a rupture of the anterior ligament and the meniscus breaks. . She had been hit in the same knee during training the day before the match, after a collision with Eve Perisset. But Corinne Deacon had ruled out any cause-and-effect relationship between these two probabilities. Somewhere, whatever. For the coach, the question now arises: how to maintain the ambition to win a first major international title even without Katoto?
No replacement can be requested
A certainty already, from the normative point of view. With the first match taking place, the Parisienne can no longer be replaced numerically, as UEFA only authorizes the replacement of a goalkeeper “.in case of serious injury or illness. ” But not a fielder. So fans of Eugénie Le Sommer may forget their dream of seeing Deacon remember the Washington State-based OL Reign striker. In fact, considering her list of 23, the coach will not have the option to choose, as she only has a number 9 on the bench, Ouleymata Sarr, who replaced Katoto against Belgium. If Deacon wants to take over by mail, the Paris FC player is the only solution at her disposal.
Sarr’s lack of experience
But the 70 minutes watched against Belgium do not foster wild optimism about Sarr’s ability to make up for Katoto’s absence. Although she is older, from the height of her 26 years against only 23 of the PSG player, she does not have the same experience of the high international level, she who has not played a Champions League match for five years. In the French team, he has 19 games, but only four starters and five goals scored. Including two in preparation against Cameroon (4-0), he is not really a world reference. Above all, beyond being less effective in front of the opposing goal than Katoto, Sarr also does not have the same qualities in the game, particularly in his ability to serve as a fixing point, a formidable force of the PSG player. , or in its complementarity with Kadidiatou Diani.
An abandoned shaft, armored sides
Against Belgium, Katoto’s departure coincided with a loss of influence from Diani and Delphine Cascarino. As if, deprived of their lighthouse in the center, the two heavy ones had lost their wings. Monday’s game against Iceland should allow Sarr to polish that, although there is no guarantee that Diani or Cascarino will start a game without bets. Then, in full competition, Corinne Deacon may be tempted to change the tactical plan or embark on experiments. If he lacks axial solutions in attack, it is not the case of the sides with Melvine Malard, Sandy Baltimore or Clara Matéo, whose versatility is invaluable. Could the French coach opt for an attacking trio without a real number 9? Possible, but unlikely. What is certain is that Katoto’s package leaves a huge void. And obviously, it would be better to put Ouleymata Sarr in a bubble because a positive test of Covid-19 or an injury would be a nightmare for the French team.
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