2015 Women’s World Cup – Colombia vs France – French Inexplicably Abandon Flanks, Settle For Long Shots in Shock Defeat

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

PRE – OK, I’m not particularly looking forward to this one on paper. Colombia played out a nearly unwatchable draw with Mexico marred by constant fouling and horrific officiating. France were superior against an ambitionless England but had but a single goal to show for their dominance. They shouldn’t be tested by the South Americans, but who knows what to expect after that dire offensive showing against England? They’ll need three points to keep on track for the group win though.

5’ – France’s offense is stuttering early, but they get a half-chance when Necib springs Boulleau out wide. The full-back tries a cross deep in the box, but Colombia blocks well and ushers it out.

7’ – As I’m about to type “this is not how you break down a bunker, France”, they get with the program. Andrade is too lackadaisical on the ball, allowing Houara to step and play a one-two with Le Sommer that releases the right-back down the flank. Her cross is headed clear but only to Bussaglia, who hits a rather pitiful shot that is allowed to roll behind for a goal kick.

9’ – With seemingly a clear path towards a chip to Thiney, Le Sommer fluffs it, letting Velasquez half-clear. She can only get it as far as Bussaglia though, with the midfielder playing Necib into space. Instead of cutting it back at the endline though, she takes a shot from an impossible angle to win a corner. They play it short, and the delivery gets blocked out for a throw. Wasteful.

11’ – Boulleau one-touches a pass to Thiney, who slips on a cutback but manages to get up long enough to prod to Necib, who skitters a shot just wide of the post.

14’ – Necib chips in a gorgeous ball looking for the run of Le Sommer, but Sepulveda is quick off her line to grab the bouncing ball. France poking around for an opener here.

16’ – Simple but decently effective for France, as Abily hits Dali out wide with a low pass. Dali crosses into the area, but it’s apparently off of Necib for a goal kick.

18’ – Bizarre moment from France, as Georges juggles a ball onto her elbow, giving Colombia a free kick near midfield. Like much of what Colombia’s attempted offensively thus far, it amounts to nothing.

19’ – From the bizarre to the really bizarre. Necib, for some reason La Sulk, all of a sudden, tosses a throw-in at the feet of Houara with one hand, showing no shortage of contempt. Colombia argue successfully that that was an illegal throw.

19’ – GOAL – Colombia (Andrade) – Unbelievable! Colombia’s first sustained possession in ages, and they score. Rincon gets it after Colombia fends off a few challenges, and France stands off the playmaker. She turns and plays an inch-perfect ball through the backline to Andrade, who beats Houara and shoots first-time under Bouhaddi and inside the right post. Wow.

22’ – Renard plays a brilliant long ball down the left flank for the run of Boulleau, but Carolina Arias does well to slide and block for a corner. Sepulveda catches with little problem.

25’ – Pressure still on, as France tries to hit back with a quick equalizer. A Necib corner is played short, and Boulleau’s cross is juggled initially by Sepulveda but fallen upon.

25’ – Colombia growing more conifdent. Rincon threads a ball over the top to Ospina, who cuts back and threads a beautiful ball to Vidal at the edge of the area. She tries to split two defenders, falls theatrically, and sees the ball cleared away.

30’ – France are doing a job between the eighteens, but their execution in the box has been shocking thus far. Houara delivers a cross from the near side that has Sepulveda struggling, but Carolina Arias heads behind. Le Sommer was wide open in the box, and she lets Houara know about it. Renard times her header well but heads it into the turf and wide.

37’ – When France moves the ball, they move it really well. Bussaglia gets it from Dali and plays a gorgeous diagonal ball over the top to Boulleau. The left-back rifles a shot into the side netting. Le Sommer’s body language screams “get me the damn ball”, as she holds her hands up in frustration again. Colombia’s gotta get more pressure on those midfield switches though.

40’ – Le Sommer turns on the jets, chesting down a pass from Abily and accelerating past Montoya and Clavijo to the endline, but her control fails her, as the ball goes out harmlessly for a goal kick.

42’ – Le Sommer continues to cause havoc in the Colombia defense. Abily plays a slow diagonal ball into Le Sommer’s stride, and she hops over the tackle of Carolina Arias before forcing Sepulveda to palm a shot over the bar.

43’ – Oof, what is Sepulveda doing? On the corner, she charges out to get the ball and is nowhere close. She’s stranded, and France really should score if a cross to Le Sommer at the far post is accurate, but forces the forward to awkwardly come back for a header, with Colombia clearing right after.

43’ – Andrade humiliates Bussaglia with some slick ball skills, seconds after Monotya had flicked past an irritated Necib. They double her up, but Colombia’s definitely showing some nice skill on the ball.

HT – France go in behind thanks to a great goal from Lady Andrade. They’ve been the better side, save for in the box, where their finishing has been woeful and hasn’t forced Seuplveda into anything more than rudimentary saves. You still fancy them to come out on top, but they hardly look like title contenders on this evidence.

46’ – Kutcher mentions this being “historical” if the result holds, and my ears start to bleed.

46’ – Sepulveda saves Colombia’s bacon with a stunning save. Colombia’s backline sags inside the eighteen, and the marking on Bussaglia is non-existent, letting her rip a shot that looks destined for the upper-right corner, but the Colombian keeper makes a brilliant save to palm it onto and over the bar.

48’ – Sepulveda may be a great shot stopper, but she really struggles on corners. On a second effort after the above save, she comes out and is frozen on the six-yard line, lucky to be bailed out by her defenders, who head clear.

52’ – Ospina chases down a lost cause at the endline and manages to shuttle it to Gaitan, who gets in the box but is harried into an easily handled cross to Bouhaddi. France break out after that, with Necib lifting it delicately over a sliding tackle before playing a ball into Le Sommer’s path. Carolina Arias slide tackles it out though, giving France a corner. Necib’s delivery is unconvincingly punched by Sepulveda, but shows safe hands to catch Georges’ shot right at her.

54’ – SUB – Colombia brings on Usme for Vidal, as they try to get fresh legs on to chase down the French players as they protect a lead.

56’ – France go close again. Necib chests and flicks a ball past a defender before passing to Le Sommer in the box. She tries a sharp angled shot at the far post instead of squaring but sends it wide.

60’ – France plays some mesmerizing one-touch passes before Dali takes a shot that rolls wide. Colombia seem content to put players behind the ball at the moment.

63’ – SUB – Double sub from France, as they bring in Amandine Henry for Bussaglia in defensive midfield, while also bringing in young attacker Claire Lavogez for a frustrated Necib. Announcers in shock about Necib going out, but really, she’s coupled her moments of brilliance with bits of petulance.

66’ – Ospina has the ball on a string in the corner before whipping in a cross that’s headed behind for a corner. It’s cleared away with little difficulty.

67’ – That is an unbelievable miss by the referee. With the ball bouncing in front of Le Sommer in the box, Montoya bats it upwards with her hand. A blatant, unmistakable penalty not called for France. Absolutely shocking officiating.

69’ – YELLOW CARD – Colombia (Sepulveda) – More controversy. Thiney looks to be 1v1 against Sepulveda, but the keeper comes sliding to the edge of the area to take it off the French player’s foot. After an interminable delay, the referee blows her whistle and claims that Sepulveda handled it out of the area. Looks like the keeper saved inside the area but held it outside of the area. After an interminable wait, Abily bends it over the wall but with so little pace that Sepulveda catches easily.

75’ – Velasquez powers up the line and gets to the endline past some French defenders but crosses right to Bouhaddi. Small gaps in the French defense are opening up as they tire and put more numbers forward.

76’ – Usme tries, optimistically, to chip Bouhaddi from a long way out, but her effort flies over the bar.

77’ – SUB – Last throw of the dice for France, as Marie Laure Delie comes in for Dali.

77’ – Henry chances her aim from distance and hits a low shot, but Sepulveda is there to claim easily enough. French are getting impatient.

79’ – YELLOW CARD – Colombia (Ospina) – Perhaps the dumbest booking of the tournament, as Ospina kicks the ball away after she’s called for a foul in the attacking third.

82’ – Oof. Colombia defend deep against the French attackers but don’t mark Henry creeping forward at the edge of the box. A ball bounces back to her, and she rifles a shot that’s blocked by Nataly Arias. France immediately shouts for handball, but it seemed to hit her elbow tucked close to her chest as she turned and jumped. More talking points.

84’ – Andrade stays down and bleeds after a clash of heads with Georges, now playing as a target forward. Tick, tick, tick…

86’ – Le Sommer wins a corner with a blocked shot. It’s just devolving into long shots into crowds for France, they’ve totally abandoned the flanks. Sepulveda continues to struggle on corners, but France just can’t get any good looks.

87’ – SUB – Colombia bring on Toledo Rocket Isabella Echeverri for Rincon.

88’ – Another corner, another goalkeeping adventure, another missed opportunity, as Lavogez puts one wide.

90’ + 1’ – SUB – Andrade comes off for Tatiana Ariza. This is probably ten minutes late, as Andrade was gassed. She’s had a tremendous game.

90’ + 2’ – That was the chance for France. Houara’s cutback in the box rolls agonizingly past countless players, but Lavogez pounces and looks to rifle home, but Sepulveda somehow makes an amazing reflex save.

90’ + 3’ – GOAL – Colombia (Usme) – Bouhaddi’s left embarrassed, as she chests, juggles, and heads a ball well outside of her box. It’s right to Ospina though, and Colombia breaks the other way as Bouhaddi backpedals. She might go to the corner…but then again, she doesn’t. It’s a good decision, as she finishes near post to make it 2-0.

90’ + 4’ – At the other end, Sepulveda saves from Delie (?). A nightmarish day for France.

FT – That may be the biggest upset in the history of competitive women’s soccer at international level. Just an unbelievable result. Colombia were second best in possession but were ruthless with the few opportunities they did create and came in with a good plan to clog the middle of the pitch to make playing through them a chore. Inexplicably, France went away from using their full-backs in the second half despite them finding great success in the first half. The modus operandi later was long, hopeful shots as France struggled to break Colombia down, with the Europeans showing a shocking lack of quality in the penalty area. That and the overall poor body language of some of the French players has to be a worry going forward. For all that, the controversial non-call on the handball by Colombia likely swung the game, though it’ll be little remembered in the end.

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