Les Bleues must learn to win without Katoto

French striker Marie-Antoinette Katoto watches her teammates during a training session in Ashby-de-la-Zouch on July 15, 2022. FRANCK FIFE/AFP

Deprived of its star scorer, the France team faces Iceland on Monday, with their heads already turned towards the quarter-finals.

“Right knee sprain with anterior cruciate ligament injury and cracked meniscus.” Last Friday, the day after a victory over Belgium (2-1) ensuring qualification for the quarter-finals as well as first place in its group for the French team, a big black cloud came to interfere in a beautiful blue sky so far during this Euro in England.

Exit at the quarter of an hour of play against the Belgians, Marie-Antoinette Katoto had to resolve to forfeit for the rest of the competition. Death in the soul, as she expressed via social networks: “Words are difficult, disappointment and a certain form of rage run through me today (…) I want you to know that this Euro means a lot to me.”

Same tactical plan

At 23, she saw her first major international competition with Les Bleues come to an abrupt end. Which is not the case for a French team which, after the shock, has no choice but to remobilize so that Katoto’s injury does not sound the glass of its European ambitions. Namely at least to play a final which promises to be grandiose at Wembley on July 31st. This Monday (9 p.m., TF1 and Canal +), against Iceland, the Blue will not play their future since they already have their ticket for the quarter of July 23 in their pocket. But for Corinne Deacon, this last group match, facing a formation which is playing its qualification, constitutes a case of conscience around a simple alternative: should it be rotated massively, given the absence of an accounting issue? , to preserve organisms? Or on the contrary should we use this match to prepare the sequel, and therefore the succession of Katoto?

No need to beat around the bush, in terms of talent and efficiency,
Katoto – who has 26 goals in just 32 caps – is irreplaceable. That being said, Wendie Renard and others have no intention of returning to France. Obviously, to avoid further complicating the situation, Corinne Deacon should not touch her tactical scheme in 4-3-3.

Once mourned for an oh so enchanting Cascarino-Katoto-Diani trident, the coach could be tempted to make post for post by launching Ouleymata Sarr in the place of the PSG striker. Except that the Paris FC player is not really convinced against Belgium, missing two good scoring opportunities. Moreover, she does not have the same qualities as Katoto, nor the same affinities with her partners, nor the same experience of the high international level (19 selections but only 4 tenures).

Suddenly, the French coach could pull out of her hat the young Melvine Malard, 22, rather used to playing in a hallway but who scored 17 goals this season under the colors of Lyon, or refocus Kadidiatou Diani, undoubtedly the best Blue since the beginning of the euro. But whatever the solution chosen against Iceland and for the rest of the Euro, the void left by Katoto promises to be very difficult to fill. Les Bleues will have to learn to play, and win, without their star scorer. Knowing that with seven achievements since the start of the competition (5 against Italy and 2 against Belgium), the attack is the main asset of the France team.


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