Ahead of the quarter-final stage of the 2022 European Football Championship, France’s confrontation with the Netherlands seemed to be the most exciting match on paper. France is probably the second best team in the world, give or take your opinion of Sweden. On the other hand, it was the Netherlands who defended the European Championship And the Runners-up at the 2019 World Cup, according to FIFA’s calculations, the last quarter-final of the round was the best combination of rankings: France is currently in third place, and the Netherlands is in fourth.
Anything less than a big hit in the game would have disappointed on Saturday. Fortunately for viewers, France did its best to clamp down on its orange-clad opponents, creating unnecessary but welcome drama in the process. Fortunately for France, they held things together long enough to win the match, With the help of VAR A deep penalty kick in extra time and advance to the Euro quarter-finals for the first time ever.
There is nothing to be done here: France should have won this match with more than one late penalty. The French were completely dominant in attack, consistently hitting the Dutch goal throughout the 90 minutes of this match. The numbers indicate this: while the Netherlands put only one shot on target in nine total attempts, France had almost 33 playful shots and 13 shots on target. The Dutch defense had no response to the French attack, save for prayer and inaction in the last moments, such as Stephanie van der Gragt’s attack in the 37th minute which, somehow, kept Melvin Mallard’s shot at bay. Van der Gragget was forced to move three points off the goal line on Saturday, which shows just how much France controlled this match.
The main reason the game went into all-time overtime was because France couldn’t get past Daphne van Domselaer, who spent one night saving 10 shots on Saturday and only being defeated by Yves Berest in the 102nd minute. The moment:
Even with the goalkeeper standing at their head, though, France didn’t have to struggle as hard as they do, especially with how strong their defence is. On the other side of the field, Wendy Renard and Greg Mbok Pathy closed off the tournament’s best remaining striker, as Arsenal star Vivian Miedema couldn’t get any.
Part of that was defensive action from the French defense line, although another and perhaps even larger part was Miedema’s return from COVID-19 infection; It looked rusty and kinda bland, especially since the game took extra time. Outside of Miedema, the Dutch attack was little noticed, stopping any time he approached the French penalty area. The expected goal tally was completely unbalanced: the Netherlands scored just 0.51 xG, compared to 4.33 in France. This kind of differential often results in more than a choppy 1-0 win, but that’s what France got on Saturday.
why blue They will have to fix their final flaws moving forward, as the competition just won’t get any easier. While the Netherlands are the best opponent France will face, at least on paper, the road to their first Euro title runs through hell and high water. Germany is in second place after beating its neighbor Austria 2-0 on Thursday. The big day there: Germany had an easier time than France, and they also have two more days to rest before the semi-finals on Wednesday in Milton Keynes.
If France overtakes the Germans in their first Euro final appearance, the task will be even more difficult: either they face Sweden in second place or the hosts England, who have overtaken their tough rival in Spain. All of these teams can, and probably should, think they are the best left, but France is likely to take the most convincing one. After all, the French showed on Saturday that they can dominate even the best teams and still need some luck to get ahead. Maybe that luck will run out against Germany, or in the final, but a team this good shouldn’t rely on luck at all.