Day 10: Fox in the box
The best thing a girl can be in this world is an unmarked centre-back at the 2023 World Cup
France 2 - Brazil 1
This highly anticipated meeting of the two best teams on paper in Group F fell slightly flat in the end as France successfully neutralised that Brazilian attacking flair we saw in the opener. With the two teams matching up in 4-4-2s both sides struggled to string together long spells of possession but ultimately France won out when it came to their out of possession game.
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A rejigged back line was key to France being able to limit Brazil’s dangerous left-hand side. Chelsea fullback Eve Perisset returned to the starting line-up having been a surprise omission in the opener against Jamaica with Maelle Lakrar reverting to her more familiar centre-back position. The duo were incredibly effective when it came to getting tight to the Brazilian forwards. Meanwhile in the centre of the pitch Sandie Toletti and Grace Geyoro were supported by both Kenza Dali and Selma Bacha tucking in at points. France forced 104 turnovers of the ball during this match, over 20 more than Brazil’s 82.
The decision by Pia Sundhage to continue with Kerolin in central midfield also felt all the more baffling here when Brazil could really have used some more pace out wide. She was the only Brazilian player in the top ten of attacking sequence involvements, which shows just how disjointed their attack was. Sundhage only made one substitute before the 80 minute mark and when Brazilian legend Marta came on in the 86th minute with Wendie Renard having put France 2-1 up it all felt too little too late.
The success of this Brazilian team always felt like it would come down to whether they could find the right balance between Sundhage’s timidity and the attacking riches that she has available to her. Here the pendulum swung too far one way.
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