France ignite World Cup with emphatic win over South Korea

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Les Bleues’ dominant display in the 4-0 mauling was a statement of intent from a side ready to avenge their past international shortcomings, says @EllaJerman.

Sarah Bouhaddi, Wendie Renard, Griddle Mbock Bathy, Amel Majri, Amandine Henry, Delphine Cascarino, Eugenie Le Sommer.

With seven Champions League winners featuring in Les Bleues’ opening World Cup line-up, there was only ever going to be one outcome.

The aforementioned seven were all part of the Lyon side that crushed Barcelona to win their fourth successive European crown in May, and three of those – Le Sommer, Renard and Henry – became France’s goalscoring heroes in their thumping 4-0 victory over South Korea on the opening night of the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

Centre forward Le Sommer opened the scoring in the 9th minute, before two towering headers from centre-back Renard and a sublime curling effort from central midfielder Henry wrapped up a commanding victory for the host nation in front of a delighted 45,261 fans inside the Parc des Princes.

At one point, a fourth Lyon star had her name on the scoresheet, but centre-back Mbock Bathy saw her 26th-minute goal ruled out for offside by VAR.

It’s been said plenty of times before but last night’s happenings go some way to confirming a certain widely-held belief – the Lyon spine of this French side will lead them to long-awaited World Cup success. 

Lyon are the best women’s team in the world by a long way. A period of domestic omnipotence has seen them win every Division 1 title since 2006/07 and claim six European titles in the last eight years.

At club level, there is no dispute that France, by way of the incomprehensibly dominant Lyon, are miles ahead of anyone else, but they are yet to avenge their shortcomings on the international scene.

Les Bleues have crashed out in the quarter-finals of their last four major tournaments: two European Championships, the Rio Olympics and defeat on penalties against Germany at the 2015 World Cup, earning them a the unwanted tag of ‘chokers’ ahead of hosting this year. 

The Lyon players certainly know how to shine on the big occasion – now they are determined to prove they can do so on the international stage. France are on a mission of revanche, and who better to spearhead the operation than a culmination of the best players from the best team in the world?

On Friday evening, France dominated from the offset, Le Sommer firing wide in pursuit of becoming the country’s all-time leading scorer before edging one step closer to breaking that record by thumping the ball into the net from close range.

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It was a merciless opening World Cup performances from Les Bleues – their win being the biggest by a host nation since the 2003 tournament when USA beat Nigeria 5-0. 

France proved they possess quality in all positions, with the likes of Lyon’s Le Sommer and Cascarino constantly troubling the Korean defence, while Mbock Bathy and Renard proved they can be just as effective in the box as they are at holding the backline.

The 2019 Women’s World Cup will offer the Lyon stars of the French national team the opportunity to prove their European supremacy, and they’ve already grabbed it with both hands.

With 66 per cent of the overall possession and 21 shots attempted compared to South Korea’s four, there is no doubting Corinne Diacre’s side were in total control, physically, technically and tactically superior across the park.

There were no signs of the players being weighed down by the considerable expectations on them as a host nation, either. Instead, we saw the players dancing together after goals, seeming to thrive off the palpable buzz of excitement at a sold-out Parc des Princes.

In fact, consider their home advantages and the case for France winning their first Women’s World Cup title becomes ever stronger – most of the starting XI are used to playing in these stadiums together, dominating every game they play and winning titles in the process.

France has the star-studded Lyon line-up needed to achieve a historic World Cup success on home soil and their football superstars are already living up to the hype.

Their next game against Norway will provide a much tougher test, but if last night’s performance is anything to go by, it’s time to believe France are the real deal.



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