The ball is kicked well, right corner – on the post. It was the 19th penalty in a highly action-packed penalty shootout, and the nineteenth time it left fans reeling. France miss a penalty, Australia have match point and for the third time, they convert it, Courtney Wynne the hero. Semi-final! Matildas fairy tale continues after 120 minutes of exhausting and nerve wracking.
This is the longest penalty shootout in a Women’s World Cup. And it has all the ingredients for maximum thrills: a goalkeeper substitution just before, repeated penalties, three shots on the post. The accuracy is astonishing, and no penalty misses the target – unlike Sweden against USA, for example, when some shooters’ nerves got the best of them.
It was a fitting end to a game full of drama. Both teams looked very close to victory: Australia’s Mary Fowler had countless chances, one of which French defender Elisa de Almeida missed the line. France had already celebrated after heading in, but VAR took the goal back. In the end, Australia celebrates and can continue to look forward to a winter wonderland. Game Intelligence.
This was not a midfield game: both France and Australia looked to win with quick combinations, none too many. Full-backs on both sides stood tall and cut in front – especially the striking Australian Ellie Carpenter – which created huge gaps.
It was clear before the game: Both teams’ strengths lie in offense rather than defense. But it is still not a real chance festival. Two of the most dangerous players, Australia’s Caitlin Ford and France’s Caditiado Tiani, were effectively dismissed from the game. But when they got the ball, there was often confusion.
Beyond that there were some parallels: both played a similar formation – 4-4-2 and 4-4-1-1, but quickly realized there was little penetration in midfield. Instead they liked each other Matilda Often push through the wing and achieve victory through crosses, same as France. at Les Blues 19-year-old Vicky Pecho was particularly impressive as a substitute, while Australia’s Mary Fowler, a year older, was just one goal short of crowning her performance.
It’s an even game, but by no means boring. Both had total chances – 4 big chances for Australia, 2 for France – but the ice wasn’t cold. It was remarkable how much the game progressed in phases: first France took charge, Australia had a goal in the air after the break, then the French came back strong, and so on.
Co-ordination was not great on either side – France had several miscommunications between Beyraud-Magnin and their back four – but lacked the precision to capitalize on it. Even then, it was an impressive back-and-forth game. The pace kept changing
In 2011, France celebrated in a penalty shootout in the quarter-finals: at that time it was against England, but after one game it ended again against the USA. From then on, the quarter-finals haunted France.
Apart from the 2022 European Championships, the French have always been eliminated in the quarter-finals since 2013. Under different coaches like Bergereu, Diagre or Renard. There can be no doubting the talent of the French women – Diani and Le Sommer are world-class strikers, and Les Bleus are excellent at full-back with Garchouy and Bacha.
France always has talent. In the past with players like Bussaglia, Nécib or Abily, in the future with the great Becho or Bacha. But the talent is evenly distributed: goalkeeper Pauline Beyrat-Magnin is not one of the best in the world and has some insecurities. Who should replace Wendy Renard at central defence?
France has similar problems to Germany when it comes to talent development. The league has grown less because of the European Championship and stagnant viewership. PSG and Lyon may compete in the Champions League, but smaller clubs like Soyaux have always had poor training conditions or payment problems. After the conclusion, the fundamental debates will be resumed, and that’s right.
The quarter-final series suggests France may need deep changes to win titles. These will certainly come too late for the 2024 Olympics, when France will have to meet high expectations as hosts. But the football displayed by Herve Renard’s team at times was encouraging.
Hosting the World Cup will be positive. But it comes with a lot of pressure and Australia reaching the semi-finals is a given. This is shown by just one statistic: hosts Australia are the first to reach the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup since 2003. Germany’s defeat in 2011 was no exception.
It’s harder to measure the influence of the audience than the influence of a particular player, but Australia use domestic enthusiasm to their advantage. In terms of playing structure, France are favorites but… Tillis I was able to make up for it. An example of the hosts’ passion was Caitlin Ford, who ran incredibly well and served as a role model at the back.
And is this enough? One of Australia’s weakest points became apparent in extra time against France: the width of the squad. Early eleven Matilda Ford, Razo, Fowler and Co. Working well with, ill star striker Sam Kerr came off the bench again after returning against Denmark.
But behind that it gets a little thinner. Australia coach Tony Gustavson has repeatedly emphasized that you don’t win the World Cup with one player like Kerr, but you do with 23 men. But against France he made only one change before the 100th minute. You can probably blame him for that, many would prefer to see players like Vine or Alex Sidiak.
But Gustavsson doesn’t have the same options as England or Sweden – and that could be a disadvantage. In extra time, the Australians were visibly exhausted and unable to provide any relief. In the semi-final they will hope they can celebrate after 90 minutes.
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