As the score remained tied in extra time and the clock ticked toward a penalty kicks shootout, France’s stress kept increasing. Hosting the Women’s World Cup, Les Bleues are expected to win the title or at least come close.
“It’s not simple. We’re playing on our home turf,” coach Corinne Diacre said through a translator. “There’s a constant reminder that we have this pressure to perform.”
France survived its first knockout match and advanced to the quarterfinals when captain Amandine Henry redirected Amel Majri’s free kick for a tiebreaking goal in the 107th minute of a 2-1 victory over Brazil on Sunday night at Le Havre.
“I didn’t remember what happened,” Henry said through a translator. “I had my teammates jumping on top of me,”
The World Cup hosts, in the quarterfinals for the third straight time, will play the defending champion United States or Spain at Paris on Friday.
“France has everything that it takes to win,” Brazil coach Vadão said through a translator. “France is absolutely prepared to win this World Cup.”
France joined England, Germany and Norway in a thus-far all-European quarterfinal field.
“We know that there will be pressure, We know that there will be this burden to bear,” Diacre said. “You have to understand that when you’re playing in front of such a huge crowd, even when you’re on your home turf, it’s not something that’s easy to get your head around. I think that we can be a little bit patient. I think we can allow our players to crumble under pressure, albeit for a couple of seconds.”
Valérie Gauvin, whose first-half goal was disallowed in a video review, put fourth-ranked France ahead in the 52nd minute before a crowd of 23,965 at Stade Oceane, but Thaisa tied the score 11 minutes later for No. 10 Brazil.