The last time it faced a major women’s football nation – Spain in the Nations League final at the end of February – the French team was beaten 2-0. Les Bleues were therefore keen to live up to their ambitions on Tuesday April 9, when they met Sweden, 3rd in the last World Cup and double Olympic vice-champion. In Gothenburg, at the Gamla Ullevi stadium, the Tricolores offered a much better performance than against La Roja, for their second qualifying match for Euro 2025, offering themselves a second success in a row (0-1), three days after beating Ireland, by the same score in Metz.

The first period was even one of the most attractive since the induction of Hervé Renard at the head of the selection, in March 2023, a few months after the rout, in a friendly, against the same Scandinavians (3-0, the October 11, 2022). However, it was necessary to wait until the end of the match, and the 81st minute, for their inevitable captain Wendie Renard, starting for the first time since her return from injury, to give victory to her team, scoring her 38th goal for the selection.

In a very tough Group F, since it also includes England – reigning European champion and finalist of the last World Cup – France carried out an excellent operation by dominating away one of its main rivals. Tuesday, the Tricolores raised their level of play and brought “that little extra intuition”, requested the day before at a press conference, by their coach.

Bad news will still have tarnished this great victory a little: the premature exit due to injury (38th) of Delphine Cascarino, replaced by Vicky Becho – who will be sent off in stoppage time after two warnings. The Lyon striker had already been absent from the field for almost a year after rupturing the cruciate ligament in her right knee.

Was this the reason for the nervousness of the coach, who received a red card from Polish referee Ewa Augustyn, shortly before the hour mark, and had to end the match in the stands? Hervé Renard went far from his reserved area, speaking sharply to the director of the game, after a blow received by his scorer Eugénie Le Sommer. The latter, who celebrated her 192nd cape, – six lengths from the record held by Sandrine Soubeyrand – was immediately replaced by Marie-Antoinette Katoto.

An all-terrain dry cleaner

If the Blues multiplied the offensive combinations on Tuesday, they suffered for a long time from a deficit of efficiency in the penultimate and last gesture. Against the Irish, they only scored from a set piece, despite around twenty attempts on goal. “In the last thirty meters you need subtlety and skill. We have some. It must now be associated with greater efficiency,” their coach then analyzed.

It was once again following a corner, first cleared by the Swedes, that they found the opening: a cross from Sakina Karchaoui, who entered during the match, headed in by Katoto and pushed in. cages by Renard, as a real scorer… which the central defender is not.

From the outset, the French cornered the Scandinavians, not giving them a second of respite. This all-terrain pressing considerably hampered the locals, who had difficulty getting the ball back. In the 2nd minute, a one-two between Eugénie Le Sommer and Kadidiatou Diani allowed the Breton to shoot into the side net despite a very favorable position. Then, three times, untenable on her right wing, Diani got ahead of the opposing defenders, without her crosses being picked up by her teammates, notably Grace Geyoro (36th and 43rd).

But when the Blues released the pressure, Sweden came close to taking advantage. A first time when goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, released at the right time, went deep ahead of Johanna Rytting Kaneryd (29th). A second, when a counter-attack almost surprised them: the Tricolores avoided an unfair opening score thanks to a save on their line from defender Selma Bacha (41st).

In the second period, the pace of the game dropped, with both teams being cautious. Concentrated, not destabilized by the injuries of Cascarino and Le Sommer, or by the red card from their coach, the French launched a first warning in the 80th minute with a powerful strike from Grace Geyoro, deflected for a corner by Jennifer Falk.

Before Wendie Renard, for her 157th selection, dons her savior costume. The captain places her troops in a favorable position in the race for one of the first two qualifying places in Group F. A position that they will try to preserve during the double confrontation against the Three Lionesses, on May 31 in Newcastle and on May 4 June in Saint-Etienne.