The Blues must learn to win without Katoto

French striker Marie-Antoinette Katoto observes her teammates during a training session in Ashby-de-la-Zouch on July 15, 2022. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Deprived of its star striker, the French team faces Iceland on Monday, with its head already turned towards the quarterfinals.

“Right knee sprain with anterior cruciate ligament injury and cracked meniscus.” Last Friday, the day after a victory against Belgium (2-1) that guarantees qualification for the quarterfinals as well as the first place of his group for the French team, a large black cloud came to interfere in a beautiful blue sky so far during this euro in England.

Leaving the quarter of an hour of play against the Belgians, Marie-Antoinette Katoto had to resolve to give up the rest of the competition. Death to the soul, as expressed through social media: “Words are hard, disappointment and some form of anger happen to me today (…) I want you to know that this Euro meant a lot to me.”

Same tactical scheme

At the age of 23, he saw his first major international competition with Les Bleues come to an abrupt end. This is not the case with a French team that, after the clash, has no choice but to remobilise so that Katoto’s injury does not sound the death knell of his European ambitions. That is, at least to play a final that promises to be grand at Wembley on July 31st. This Monday (9pm, TF1 and Canal +), against Iceland, the Blues will not play their future as they already have the ticket for the quarter of July 23 in their pocket. But for Corinne Deacon, this last group match, in front of a team that is playing its qualification, is a case of conscience around a simple alternative: it must be rotated en masse, in the absence of an accounting issue ?, to preserve organisms? Or on the contrary should we use this party to prepare the sequel, and therefore the succession of Katoto?

No need to run through the woods, in terms of talent and efficiency,
Katoto, who has 26 goals in just 32 games, is irreplaceable. That said, Wendie Renard and others have no intention of returning to France. Obviously, Corinne Deacon’s strategy involved concentrating on the flanks for their attacks.

After weeping for such a charming Cascarino-Katoto-Diani trident, the coach could be tempted to make room for stick by throwing Ouleymata Sarr instead of the PSG striker. Except that the Paris FC player did not really convince against Belgium, wasting two good goal opportunities. In addition, he does not have the same qualities as Katoto, nor the same affinities with his partners, nor the same experience of high international level (19 selections but only 4 mandates).

Suddenly, the French coach could take out of her hat the young Melvine Malard, 22 years old, rather accustomed to playing in a corridor but who this season has scored 17 goals with the colors of Lyon, or re-center Kadidiatou Diani, definitely the best blue from the start. of the euro. But whatever solution is chosen against Iceland and for the rest of the Euro, the gap left by Katoto promises to be very difficult to fill. The Blues will have to learn to play, and win, without their star scorer. Knowing that with seven successes since the start of the competition (5 against Italy and 2 against Belgium), the attack is the main asset of the French team.

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