At UEFA Women's EURO 2009, there were 14 positive results before the first draw, when France recorded a 1-1 stalemate with Norway. This time it was Les Bleues who secured the first win of the final tournament, seeing off Russia 3-1 after the opening four matches had finished level.
France, with FIFA Women's World Cup and Olympic semi-finals under their belts in the last two years – and the only perfect qualifying record – stormed out of the blocks in Norrkoping to take an early lead in Group C. Three up midway through the second half, Les Bleues seemed to lose some energy in the heat later on, but Camille Abily, deployed in her favourite role of playmaker, thinks France could not have started better.
"In a sense, with all due respect, I think we were lucky to start against Russia," said the 28-year-old Olympique Lyonnais midfielder. "I think it was a good game to launch our campaign before improving step by step."
The players agreed that they were not at their peak, even if coach Bruno Bini praised them for their "outstanding" combinations. "Physically, I think we're going to get better and better," predicted Abily, who won her 116th cap at Nya Parken. "We didn't go out 100% because we're hoping there will be many more games in the competition, so we don't want to go off too quickly."
Her club-mate Élodie Thomis tends to do everything quickly, of course, and the speedy winger made a superb impact after coming off the bench. Six minutes after taking to the pitch, the 26-year-old delivered an assist for Eugénie Le Sommer, who notched France's third goal following Marie-Laure Delie's first-half double. "Our legs were a bit heavy," Tomis nonetheless explained to UEFA.com. "It didn't show much, but we were lacking energy. We were a bit tired, but that's normal. My number one quality is speed, so I used that and it paid off."
Speed and quality in front of goal will again be needed against Spain on Monday, especially after the way La Roja ended their match with England so strongly. "Spain are new to us, but I think they're good technicians – small girls who play one-touch football," said Thomis. "They're comfortable technically. I think it'll be a good game."
Abily added: "Against Spain, I'm expecting a better match [than against Russia]. It's true that Spain are a good technical team. They're very good opponents." Just ask England.
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