France shows off its depth in beating Canada at Cyprus Cup

Marie-Laure Delie

It wasn’t as bad as the disaster from the Women’s World Cup, but France showed it’s still a level above Canada at the final of the Cyprus Cup.

France got a goal in each half as Les Bleus beat our national women’s team 2-0 in the final on Tuesday, denying Canada its bid for a third straight Cyprus Cup championship.

France used all of the players who scored against Canada in that infamous 4-0 game from the 2011 Women’s World Cup. Gaetaene Thiny, who scored twice against Canada in the WWC, got a start in Cyprus. Camille Abily also started. And Elodie Thomis came in as a late sub.

But none of the players who scored against Canada in 2011 got goals in the Cyprus Cup final. Marie-Laure Delie, France’s top threat — who averages almost a goal a game in international play — got the first half opener. And, in the second half, Louisa Necib scored from the spot after Canada’s Rhian Wilkinson fouled Sonia Bompastor in the penalty area.

The French side was able to once again shut the door on Canada even though it used an almost entirely different back line and different starting keeper than it had at the Women’s World Cup.

Last year, going into the World Cup, France finished third at the Cyprus Cup, while Canada won it for the second time in a row.

It’s easy to say that Canada showed some improvement by putting up more of a fight on Tuesday than it did in Germany 2011. But this time around, France isn’t surprising anyone. Canada, like the rest of the world, knows that French are now up there with the top sides in European’s women’s football. In 2011, the French were still seen as an emerging side and could be argued caught Canada a bit by surprise in Germany.

But the fact that France was able to rotate in an entirely new defensive set-up and still keep the Canadians off the scoresheet shows just how much depth the side has.

The day before the game, Canadian team coach John Herdman said he was going to have his team focus on the future rather than worry about the past meltdown against France. He wanted them to think about France as a podium threat at the Olympic Games. Well, the Canadians learned just how much work they still have to do if they want to get to that podium. The Canadians are getting better fullback play — especially from Lauren Sesselmann, who started in Tuesday’s final — and are moving the ball better from the back. But Canada is still on the path to redemption, not at the destination.

And, at the Olympics, it doesn’t matter if you lose 2-0 or 4-0. You are at the big stage — you can’t just say, “oh, we were a little better than we were in 2011.” It’s simply not good enough. So, Canada knows it has just a few months left to try and raise its game to France’s level. The gap, no matter how much we sugarcoat a 2-0 loss compared to the humiliation of 2011, is still wide.

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About Steven Sandor

I'm currently the colour commentator for FC Edmonton broadcasts on Sportsnet, NASL.com and TEAM 1260. I've covered the Toronto FC beat for four years, worked for the Edmonton Aviators of the USL for a season, covered the Edmonton Drillers of the NPSL and started covering Canadian World Cup qualifiers in 1996. I've covered the CONCACAF Champions League and the U-20 World Cup. I'm passionate about soccer in North America.