Monday, July 18, 2022

FEM 2022--Day Thirteen Recap

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Day 13: Recap



Bookie’s Stats—

Spread: 11-13

Straight up: 16-4-4

Some end to group play this turned out to be. We have our Cinderellas, in the most unlikely team.

Belgium? Really? The Red Flames, otherwise known as the team with the most godawfully anemic attack in the tournament, are the ones going through? Guess so gentlemen. That, combined with the fact that VAR wouldn't let the French girls hit the Line, mean it's been a bad day for the bookie's projections and an even worse one for his pocketbook.

No worries. Surprises are always welcome. We'll happily bang the drum for the Belgian girls. Welcome to the quarterfinals you strange mixture of Flemish and Walloon lowlanders united by an arbitrary border.

The pick to finish dead last defies us with their first ever knockout phase in just their second ever major tournament. Bang on the drums all night, lasses. You've earned it! What a year for them.

Their first ever World Cup qualification and now this!

 S.S.S. Tactical Breakdown 

When it comes to coverage of Belgium since the competition kicked off, nary a mention was given to them in the Day Nine Recap. Seeing as how Ives Serneels deployed the same wretched narrow 4-2-3-1 as he used in the first round, the best the bookie could do was give them a quick reference at the beginning of the tactics segment.

Wholesale changes from the Belgian trainer this time. After deploying the exact same XI in the second round as in the first, the RFBA gaffer actually only made one personnel change this time. Hannah Eurlings--the exciting young attacker many of us had been calling for--replaced center-halve Laura Neve.

 Lineup—Belgium—Match Three (4-3-3) (7/18/22) 

This constitutes a beautiful example of how to get a tactical puzzle right. Eurlings spearheaded the attack whilst Elena Dhont and Tessa Wullaert switched slants. De Caigny and Janice Cayman both moved back an axis, widening out in the process. Justine Vanhaevermaet herself moved back to play pincer. 

We're not quite done with the the receding actors just yet. Julie Biesmans also slid back into central defense to take De Neve's spot, which the highly unfairly suspended Amber Tysiak was left unable to cover. Okay. Now the bookie promises were done. 

Re-formatting to the 4-3-3 we all wanted to see in this tournament paid immediate dividends. Eurlings got off an early warning shot. The Italians were able to slide in beneath Vandaevermaet to create a few chances of their own, but keeper Nick Evrard remained on point. 

We have to mention her, of course. The backstop who has already made two penalty saves in this tourney gets far little attention among the tournament watchers. the probably should have earned player-of-the-match honors after making several key saves to preserve the scoreline. She's the true reason this nation is still in it. 

Overall, not a terribly great performance for the Red Flames on this day. De Caigny's game winning strike was naturally absolute fire. Wullaert had her flashy moments, including a scintillating strike that hit the post near the end. Janice Cayman fluffed the rebound on that shot. I still think she did fairly well. 

In the final analysis, it's only Evrard who gets top marks. Without that early sprawling save on Girelli and the late stops, there's no way in hell we would be giving this team anything other than a perfunctory send-off/ Actual recipient of the player-of-the-match award Sari Kees and others do still get high grades.

 Grades—Belgium (Match Three) 

Nicky Evrard


Sari Kees


Justine Vanhaevermaet


Tine de Caigny


Tessa Wullaert


Janice Cayman


Laura Deloose


Feli Delacauw


Davina Philjens


Julie Biesmans


Marie Minnaert


Hannah Eurlings


Elena Dhont


Jody Vanheluwe


Grades for three of the subs this this time as so much of what mattered in this match took place late. One definitely needs to hand it to all the players on the pitch for helping out to withstand that late Italian onslaught. Yes, despite my promise, we're talking about Belgian girls moving back again. What? They did.

Nice to see our FrauenBundesliga girl de Caigny score in this one...or indeed do something other than argue with the match official with a surly look on her face. Can't say I was a fan of many of her passing decisions in this one. She more than made up for it with that scorcher.

The thoughts on de Caigny, in a way, extend to the entire team. They defended well throughout, yet didn't make the most of what their new formation offered with their upfield movement. Too many great recoveries and interceptions, only to turn the ball over again immediately. 

They did all manage to grow into the game and finished quite strongly. Bookie will have to have a good long sleep before he decides whether or not they have any chance against the Swedes in the quarters. There's a bit of late momentum they can ride. That doesn't seem like nearly enough at this juncture.

Moving on, the bookie doesn't want to spend too much time talking about France this evening. Thought it certainly wasn't the tip, I confess that I was watching that one live secretly hoping for a miracle. Didn't happen. Of course it didn't. Even without most of its regular starters, this French team is too strong.

 Lineup—France—Match Three (4-3-3) (7/18/22) 

Told you Marie-Antoinette Katoto's absence wouldn't be a problem. Corinne Diacre even went with the striker I recommended and she scored inside of sixty seconds. Melvin Malard exited the false-nine role on a straight pivot and didn't hesitate to take full control of the match immediately. 

We'll talk briefly about the impressive fight the "Ice-dottirs" gave this powerhouse below. I suppose I'd be lying to you, however, if I didn't point out that the larger country with the deeper talent pool pretty much looked better throughout. 

Some defensive lapses, but note that Diacre replaced every member of the previous back-four except Renard. the attack also got reorganized and the midfield was inverted. This experimentation gave the underdogs some openings.

 Grades—France (Match Three) 

Wendie Renard


Melvie Melard


Clara Maeto


Selma Bacha


Sandie Toletti


Grace Geyoro


Sandy Baltimore


Delphine Cascarino


Kadidiatou Diani


Ella Palis


Charolotte Bilbault


Marion Torrent


Aissatou Tounkara


Pauline Peyraud-Magnin


Sakina Karchaoui


They were pretty much all on the level with slight dips only for the keeper, one starter, and two backups. Selma Bacha might as well start the next match in my opinion. Otherwise, it's back to business as usual

Yes, they did conserve energy at times. That's normal for this stage of a tournament. I don't fault them for not giving us a better show this time. They want to get over that quarterfinal hump at long last. 


 S.S.S. Salute to Fallen Comrades 

 Italy--"Le Azzurre"

-3 Games played

-2 Goals Scored

 Previous Italy Coverage

--Group D Preview

--Day Five Recap

--Day Nine Recap

The "Group of Life" casualties end up being the Italians after. Some year it's been for this country's footballing program. A European Championship barely one calendar year ago today. Then the failure to qualify for the World Cup. Now a Group Stage exit for a women's program we all hoped would elevate the status of the sport within the country.

Bookie absolutely must give Milenma Bertolini a draw up in this case in order to explain what went terribly wrong. I tapped them to push through to the knockouts based on the fact that I expected she had her personnel and tactics all sorted out after her players basically gifted it to her last round.

Ups. No. Catenaccio crap.

 Lineup—Italy—Match Three (4-5-1) (7/18/22) 

Right personnel decisions. Wrong formation. Giugliano and Bergamaschi on the wings struggled to be effective from the start. At the very least there should have been some rotations built in with the still relatively new midfielders.

Girelli saw far too little of the ball for much of the match. Bonansea (fabulous as she may be) couldn't cover all that ground by herself. She did try late on, once Agnese Bonfantini and Valentina Giacinti worked out how they were supposed to attack in a rejiggered 4-3-3.

It all took too long, largely as the result of too much tinkering in this tournament. Granted, heavy tinkering  was called for following the French demolition. Not a lot of it made sense, however. To go with something like this at the onset of a must-win fixture was too safe. It cost them.

 Grades—Italy (Match Three) 

Barbara Bonansea


Agnese Bonfantini


Flaminia Simonetti


Valentina Giacinti


Lisa Boattin


Arianna Caruso


Valentina Bergamaschi


Laura Giuliani


Elena Linari


Manuela Giugliano


Elisa Bartoli


Cristiana Girelli


Lucia Di Guglielmo


Martina Rosucci


This is suddenly a very confused side. Heading into the last stage of World Cup qualification, we don't have a functional midfield duo, clear striking partnerships, or many in an aging defensive corps that look to be able to still compete aerially in terms of break up play. 

Though they still lead their group, Bertolini's first choice XI has just gotten crushed and split. Who the hell knows what will happen in the next few months? Given that it's Italy, they could come back to make the FWM semi-finals for all we know.

Ah, caca. Not a side the bookie wanted to be saying goodbye to so early.

 Iceland--"Stepulnaar Okkar"

-3 Games played

-2 Goals Scored

 Previous Iceland Coverage

--Group D Preview

--Day Five Recap

--Day Nine Recap

Well, the fairy tale has sadly gone bad. Bookie wasn't expecting miracles and didn't tip as such. I'm still heartbroken that it had to come to an end in this fashion. This was one of those cases in which a blowout would have been easier to stomach. the "Ice-dottirs" crash out of the tournament despite not losing a match. 

Moreover, they played a hell of a game. Absolutely loved Halldorsson's lineup selection. He freshen up his right flank with Agla Maria Albertsdottir and Gunny Arnadottir in an even more ambitious constellation that the one we witnessed last time. The newly introduced pair supplied us with a lot of joy up that side.

 Lineup—Iceland—Match Three (4-2-1-3) (7/18/22) 

Dammit. The third change might have been what sunk them in then Injibjörg Sigudardottir versus Melive Melard just didn't jive. There are plenty of other "what ifs" that were left in the bookie's mind following this one. Obviously, the biggest one has to be...

What if SHE hadn't gotten hurt? Dammit again.

So much went right for these islanders today. They got their set-pieces, yet couldn't take advantage of them. In the 4-2-3-1, they were able to switch the point of attack fairly effectively, yet got sloppy at all the precise wrong moments. They spread the ball out wide in a manner that would make most coaches proud, yet....

Alright. Enough with the "yet"s. It came agonizingly close to coming together for them against a vastly superior side. I'll say it again. That hurts more than if it had all gone to pot. Truly hope we see this crew next Summer in the FWM. They do nevertheless have a rough path ahead of them. This may be goodbye for quite some time. 

“Riffs of the Day”—Day Thirteen

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Reader: I thought you had a soft spot for crying Italian girls, Vicey.


Vicey: That's the ones in the stands after the men's team gets eliminated, 11-M!

This is a wholly different story.

Reader: I swear Kassandra Missipo is Marouane Fellaini's little sister!


Vicey: I was thinking the exact same thing, 32-M.

One Belgian.

Other Belgian.

Reader: I've sent you that picture of the Belgian fan-girl from last year as a means of rubbing salt in your wounds.


Vicey: That doesn't make up for the fact that you incorrectly identified her as a German last year, 130-M. Embarrassing that you can't get your Belgian-German flags straight. 

Reader: Why have I never heard of Tessa Wullaert?


Vicey: She doesn't tend to spend too long in one place, 11-M. To be perfectly honest, I'd forgotten that she played for Wolfsburg when I was composing the preview section. Most of her years have been spent in those "vrouwen" leagues in the low countries none of us have the time to follow.

Incidentally, to the Dutch/Flemish contingent, I absolutely hate that damn word. "Vrouwen". You make Ladies sound like rabid dogs out to bite your unmentionables off. Er...maybe I should stop there.

Reader: Did Sveindis Jane Jonsdottir just take on Wendie Renard or am I dreaming?


Vicey: Bwahwawhawhaha. I can confirm that I too saw that and it did happen. Unlike in your dream, however, it did not devolve into a cat-fight that spilled over into the mud pit. 

Reader: I swear that Icelandic Anthem is longer than the last time!


Vicey: I counted one minute and nine seconds. It's bleeding well Wagnerian, 11-M!

Reader: What's the over-under on how many Icelandic players pose with their children after the match?


Vicey: Four. By the way, I happen to like those shots, 17-M. I'm hoping for some French ones too.

You know what you should do, 17-M (and indeed everyone else who is still lucky enough to do so)?

You should go call your mother.

Go ahead. Go. Go call your mother.

Reader: Do we even need to mention attendance on "Tiny Stadium Group Day"?


Vicey: We could mention that both the Manchester Academy stadium and the new Rotherham venue both topped half capacity, 19-M. In addition to that, both venues exhibited a damn fine atmosphere. In addition to, THAT, contrary to my dour predictions on Day Five, we will actually get to see the Belgian Brass Band back in action at least one more time.

Looks  like these guys might need a rest cure.

Time to take a nap.

Before they do, they bid you a cordial farewell until the next set of Lines!