France’s Opening Win A Statement Of Intent — To The USWNT

Les Bleues crushed South Korea in the Women’s World Cup opener, showing they should be the favorite to win it all.

The opening match of the Women’s World Cup is in the books, host France crushing South Korea 4-0. But more than the final score, the France vs South Korea highlights showed one thing: the American women will have to beat Les Bleues if they hope to repeat, and it won’t be easy.

The USWNT entered the 2019 Women’s World Cup as the favorite to win it all. Jill Ellis’ side is ranked No. 1 in the world, features some of the best attacking talent on the planet and has the experience to repeat as champion. 

But after putting on a show against South Korea — by no means a bad team — France showed it might deserve the moniker of “tournament favorite.”

France scored three first-half goals and cruised in the second half to open the Women’s World Cup with three points. The manner in which the win was executed thrilled the sell-out crowd of 45,261 in Paris.

The French dominated from the opening kick. Eugenie Le Sommer scored off an assist from Amandine Henry in the ninth minute and Wendie Renard scored twice off corner kicks following a French goal that was disallowed by VAR.

So dominant were Les Bleues that South Korea didn’t attempt a shot until the 76:31 mark.

In the 84th minute, Henry put the match away with a beautiful curling effort. The French captain had come close in the first half with a similar shot, but this time she put more power and bend on the shot and put the exclamation mark on the match.

France perfectly set the stage for what will hopefully be an entertaining, thrilling Women’s World Cup. Renard brought strength and power on attack and defense, Delphine Cascarino provided sauce on the wing and Henry and Le Sommer controlled the pace of France’s terrifying attack. 

Les Bleues were in control throughout, suffocating South Korea with superior skill, speed, tactics and desire. 

About the only thing France didn’t do well against South Korea was execute its free kick routines, which don’t really seem necessary when you can just send crosses to Renard at will. 

What’s more, Les Bleues continued to build a special relationship with the home fans. With an electrifying performance to start the tournament, the excitement will only build across the country, which would love to boast both the men’s and Women’s World Cup champions.

That could make for a mighty combination should the USWNT run up against France in its quest to repeat as Women’s World Cup champion. 

Let’s be clear here, the USWNT is still the favorite to win it all. Whether or not you think the U.S. is as good as it was four years ago, this team still has more top players than any team in the tournament. 

But France’s win against South Korea showed just how big of a task it’s going to be for the USWNT to get past Les Bleues in France.

France’s most powerful asset might just be the one that’s hardest to quantify: chemistry. Les Bleues have a cohesion rarely seen in the international game thanks to its core of Lyon players. Lyon, winner of the last four Champions Leagues, has seven players on France’s 23-woman roster. All seven started and all seven were key against South Korea.

Midfielders Henry and Le Sommer both scored for France while Cascarino, a 22-year-old winger, showed why she was more than deserving of her 13th cap.

The Lyon-led defense is what really separates France from the rest of the world.

With Sarah Bouhaddi in goal, center backs Renard and Griedge Mbock Bathy in the middle and Amel Majri at left back, four of France’s five deepest defenders play together for club. The lone outlier is Montpellier’s Marion Torrent at right back. 

France has so much going for it right now, it’ll be hard to slow the host nation down. Plus, France is the only country to beat the USWNT in the last two years, having won 3-1 in a friendly in January. The U.S. was missing a few regulars, but France still deserved the win.

The U.S. could face France as early as the quarterfinals. Should both teams win their respective groups — and there’s little reason to think they won’t — they would play on June 28 in Paris. 

The winner of that match just might go on to win the whole tournament.

Here are the France vs South Korea highlights from the 2019 Women’s World Cup’s opening match.

France vs South Korea Highlights

Eugenie Le Sommer Goal, 9 — 1-0 France

Griedge Mbock Bathy Disallowed Goal, '27 — 1-0 France

Wendie Renard Goal, '35 — 2-0 France

Wendie Renard Goal, '45+2 — 3-0 France

Amandine Henry Goal, '78 — 4-0 France

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