France
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France did not put a foot wrong in qualifying for the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ for the first time in eight years, and are banking on a charismatic coach and a fast-maturing group of players to make their return to the big stage a successful one.

The road to Germany
Les Bleus could hardly have been more impressive in qualifying. In winning 11 of their 12 matches, they dished out a 12-0 defeat to Estonia and scored 53 goals in all, conceding just two. The only side to avoid defeat against the rampant French were Italy, who earned a goalless draw in the first leg of their play-off tie before going down 3-2 in the return match.

The star players
France are fortunate enough to have two excellent goalkeepers in Celine Deville and Berangere Sapowicz, who will be battling it out for the No1 jersey. Defenders Sonia Bompastor and Laura Georges are the cornerstones of the Bleus defence, while Camille Abily, a USA championship winner this year with FC Gold Pride, and Louisa Necib are attacking midfielders with the talent to worry any rival defence. Lining up alongside them in the centre of the park will be France’s most capped female footballer of all time Sandrine Soubeyrand, the winner of more than 150 caps. Ahead of them Eugenie Le Sommer has been showing with every game that she has what it takes to lead the French frontline.

The coach
Stepping in to replace Elisabeth Loisel in February 2007, Bruno Bini did not take long to impose his philosophy and style. After steering the French to UEFA Women’s EURO 2009, the unorthodox Bini then took them beyond the group phase of a women’s international competition for the first time, only for the Netherlands to beat them on penalties in the quarter-finals. A former professional footballer who places great emphasis on the psychology of football, Bini has been coaching national women’s teams since 1993 and took France’s U-19 side to the European title seven years ago.

Previous FIFA Women’s World Cups

  • Germany 2011 will be France’s second appearance at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
  • Les Bleus first appearance at a FIFA Women's World Cup came at USA 2003, when Marinette Pichon and her team-mates just missed out on a place in the last eight after losing to Norway, beating Korea Republic and drawing with Brazil in the first round.

What they said
“The fact we’re eighth in the World Ranking is confirmation of our status and reward for many months of hard work, both at national team and club level. The France team is coming on nicely. We’re developing our style and approach all the time, although we could do with improving our finishing.” Andre Barthelemy, France assistant coach.