The FIFA Women’s World Cup is underway and kicked off with a bang today as France smashed South Korea in a 4-0 victory. In truth, there was only ever going to be one winner in this match. Although South Korea were up for the test and gave it what they had, France completely dominated the game, dictated the tempo and outclassed their South Korean opponents in the opening match of Group A. Here is The Mastermind’s Tactical Analysis from the opening game of the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
FORMATIONSEmbed from Getty Images
Both teams set up with very similar formations, although France evidently made better use of their system than South Korea, who had set up to try to counter-act the stellar passing and midfield dominance of France. However it was to no avail as France’s 4-3-3 worked like a charm and South Korea’s more defensive-minded 4-5-1 completely cracked under the pressure. As the game went on, France switched to a 4-2-3-1 to allow Amandine Henry more time on the ball, where she played in a double-pivot alongside Dijon midfielder Elise Bussaglia and Gaetane Thiney was pushed into a number ten role. South Korea also switched to a 4-2-3-1 in the minimal attacks that they had, trying to bring Ji So-Yun into a more advanced role as a number ten.
France – (4-3-3): Bouhaddi (GK), Torrent (RB), Mbock Bathy (CB), Renard (CB), Majri (LB), Thiney (CM), Henry (DM), Bussaglia (CM), Cascarino (RW), Diani (CF), Le Sommer (LW)
South Korea – (4-5-1): M.J. Kim (GK), H.R. Kim (RB), B.R. Hwang (CB), D.Y. Kim (CB), S.G. Jang (LB), (RM) Y.M. Kang, S.H. Cho (CM), Y.J. Lee (CM), S.Y. Ji (CM), G.M. Lee (LW), S.B. Jung (CF)
FRANCE’S QUICK STARTEmbed from Getty Images
Unfortunately for South Korea, they lost the game practically right from the very first whistle. France got the game off and running right away and passed the ball around from left to right, making South Korea look like an Under-19 side. In the early stages, France favoured the right side. Marion Torrent looked the livelier of the French fullbacks and made several good runs, alongside the help of Gaetane Thiney who at this point was playing mostly as a right-central midfielder. They utilized Delphine Cascarino’s close-control in tight areas, helping them accumulate several crosses and corners as a result. Beyond that, Kadidiatou Diani often came deep from her role as the central striker, allowing Eugenie Le Sommer to exploit the space in behind. This resulted in France’s opening goal after just 9 minutes as Amandine Henry sent the ball in to the unmarked Le Sommer, who barried it into the back of the net.
At this point in the match, South Korea saw very little of the ball and were relying heavily on Ji So-Yun and So-Hyun Cho to break up play, which they did to decent effect. Unfortunately Korea quickly became outnumbered with the deep runs of Kadidiatou Diani into midfield and the overall dominance of France’s midfield triangle of Henry, Bussaglia and Thiney.
FRANCE’S MIDFIELD DOMINANCEEmbed from Getty Images
France’s build-up play was calm, relaxed and almost like a choreographed routine. The central defenders would pass the ball until they found the right opening for the fullbacks, who would then look to play centrally, often for Amandine Henry and Gaetane Thiney. The hosts then attracted much attention in the middle of the field, before switching the ball wide to the fullbacks or wingers, quickly outnumbering South Korea’s defense, who had focused all their attention on shutting down the middle. From there, France would explode and look to go in on goal.
France’s dominance in midfield was compounded by their ability to get the ball out wide to the fullbacks, particularly on the left side where Amel Majri and later Eve Perisset caused havoc for South Korea’s defense. The left side was the more dominant side for France in both halves, which is unsurprising given that the Lyon quartet of Renard, Majri, Henry and Le Sommer all featured on that side. After playing the ball wide France would often look to cross the ball into the box, play in a central midfielder for a shot or South Korea would skate by and win a corner, which only resulted in two Wendie Renard headed goals.
South Korea’s need to react to France’s midfield control caused the normally exuberant and creative Ji So-Yun to spend the entire match having to defend. When Ji or Cho succeeded in winning the ball, Korea’s first thought was often to play directly into the striker, but this was cut off every single time by Wendie Renard and Griedge Mbock Bathy, who would start the build-up play again. Further up the field, Diani made life even more difficult for Korea’s midfield, dropping deep and allowing Eugenie Le Sommer and Delphine Cascarino to exploit the space in behind. By the time the first half had come to a close, France had taken a comfortable 3-0 lead.
MAJRI AND HENRY TAKE CENTER STAGEEmbed from Getty Images
After taking a 3-0 lead at half-time, France remained comfortable in the second-half, although South Korea had the odd glimpse at goal, unlike the first half. Amel Majri saw lots of the ball as France continued to attack down the left, but South Korea’s rough and tumble style of play broke up their momentum. Although the left side was the more active for France, the right side also looked powerful and both Cascarino and World Cup debutante Torrent looked a healthy mix of composed and dangerous when in possession. For brief periods, Le Sommer couldn’t get a hold of the game like she did in the first half and was often double-teamed. This allowed Diani to grow into the game, although the PSG striker couldn’t ever get off a clean shot. Toward the end of the game, France became comfortable in their possession and the combination of Renard and Mbathy in central defense saw a lot of time on the ball. They often looked to play in Amandine Henry, who continued her role as the pivot and playmaker. Henry continued to look left for the quick Perisset who would then find Le Sommer or play in a forward run from Henry herself, who was still comfortably able to make her way forward despite being so heavily involved in the build-up. This is exactly how France would score their fourth goal of the game to seal the victory as Perisset and Le Sommer linked up to find Henry, whose shot from distance sailed past the keeper. In the end, France claimed a 4-0 victory and South Korea were left to wonder what they could have done differently. In truth, the answer is very little. France were just completely and utterly dominant and fully deserved their 4-0 win to start the tournament.
FINAL THOUGHTSEmbed from Getty Images
This was a dominant performance from France in the opening match of the FIFA Women’s World Cup and after this display, they just might be one of the favourites to win it all. They always looked comfortable, never allowed South Korea to grow into the game and their stars really shone through. It will be interesting to see in future matches whether the link-up play of Henry, Majri and Le Sommer down the left continues to be a key to their success. France’s next game is against Norway and the Norwegians will not let France walk all over them like South Korea did. This sets up a very intriguing battle in Group A as Norway play in their opening match against Nigeria tomorrow.
That’s it for our Tactical Analysis of the opening fixture in France. Thanks for reading and see you soon.
Be sure to check out more FIFA Women’s World Cup articles.