In the second match day of the Women’s U-19 European Championships, France found themselves up again a pugnacious Italian side where they were unlucky to draw 2-2 in Ostrava. With Italy building strong attacks in the first half, Les Bleues Feminine were steadfast in their approach to counter and overrun their opposition with their quality, eventually scoring two quick goals near the hour mark. However, two bad referee decisions saw Italy’s Nicole Arcangeli bag two from the spot, leaving you to wonder if France should’ve capitalized better throughout the match.
- A1 – Very good, could play higher
- A2 – Strong potential to play higher
- B1 – Good, strong player at level
- B2 – Potential to be a strong player at level
- C – Average for the level, rewatch
- D – Below average in this match
- Nationality: French
- Age: 17
- Date of Birth: 20/08/2004
- Current Club: Paris FC
- Position: Winger
Although an outside forward by trade, Airine Fontaine was deployed at left back against Italy and wouldn’t look out of place there for a possession-based, attacking side. Fontaine is dynamic, but not just in movement or speed of thought. The Paris FC young talent is fearless. On the attacking side, she was the prime example of a relentless forward. She wants defenders to dive at her, as if she gets incredible amounts of joy from zooming past them with her supreme ball control and eye-gawking agility.
Her awareness was superb against an aggressive, pressing Italian side. When France were on the back foot in the first half, Fontaine was the attacker – from the back – to wriggle her way out of a couple challenges then link play with her forwards to create a counter. Off the ball, she was disciplined in her positioning. She was really good at reading opposition attacks, popping up to steal the ball away in transition, predicting forwards’ runs or switching off the ball carrier to assertively win the ball before a chance in created. Her short stature allows her to pivot her body sharply at any given moment which means she also great at recovery defending.
If you knew nothing about her, you would’ve thought she was one of the best full backs in the world. She wouldn’t look out of place at left back for some of the biggest possession-based, attacking sides.
- Nationality: French
- Age: 19
- Date of Birth: 26/03/2003
- Current Club: Lyon
- Position: Central Midfield
In France’s three-women midfield, Inès Benyahia seemed to play every role at one point or another. She acted mostly a penetrative midfielder, getting the ball to feet high up the pitch, laying it off, then dashing into the 6-yard box. She was deployed in this box-to-box role where her incredible engine could flourish. And then while France defended their own defensive third most of the first half, Benyahia became a screener for the backline. Her engine and large frame meant she could be aggressive in her pressing which caused Italy’s attacks to look disjointed.
She was a superb ball carrier and link player in this match. Without hesitation, she would spring forward with the ball at fett and bulldoze through Italy’s midfield. She stayed very vertical in her movements; she never looked to float out wide or find the half spaces. With her long legs and broad shoulders, she wasn’t very silky or smooth in her movement and her passing was similar, powerful ground passes with not much disguise.
As France started to gain ground towards the end of the first half and early in the second, Benyahia found herself in a sort of specialist role, playing as a target forward rather than in midfield. The role suited her, as she would demand the ball to feet then patiently wait runners or the extra midfielder to shuttle a pass and move into the box. With already a few starts in the past two seasons with Lyon, Benyahia will be one to watch for the future, especially as a high level utility player.