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Léger on France's WU19 EURO ambitions

A move to Montpellier in June, a WU19 EURO winners' medal in July and senior honours to follow: France captain Marie-Charlotte Léger has it all mapped out.

Marie-Charlotte Léger outside tournament HQ
Marie-Charlotte Léger outside tournament HQ ©Sportsfile

France are here for the WU19 EURO trophy, says captain Marie-Charlotte Léger. Les Bleuettes have not conceded a single goal during qualification or the finals so far, and Léger insists hosts Israel, their opponents on Saturday, will not ruin the party.

"We're here to win, of course. We won it in 2013, but didn't qualify last year. So now we want to be champions again. Nobody has scored against us, so well done to our defence, and Israel won't be the first. We'll win that game, too, and score more than we did in the 1-0 win against Denmark.

"Denmark were strong physically and it's hot here, really very hot, so that's not easy. It has been very difficult to play but we've acclimatised okay. We're kicking off later, at 21.15 [local time], but I don't know if it will make a lot of difference."

©Sportsfile

Her fans back home have inundated her with messages of backing on Twitter, which Léger dutifully retweets with gratitude. "The support is great. Our objective, quite simply, is to become European champions and qualify for the U-20 World Cup, for France.

"I want to perform well in this tournament and score more goals to set me up well for my new club Montpellier, and the ultimate objective is to earn a place in the senior national team. I would love for that to happen. But I have to work hard now with the under-19s.

"I think it's a realistic aim for me. I didn't play in 2013 as I was with the under-17s, but I've spoken with the players from that team and they have been really encouraging."

Watch Delie in WU19 EURO action
Watch Delie in WU19 EURO action

While her steely glare is a professional trademark, do not let it fool you. Léger is a vocal skipper, with a strong presence on the pitch demonstrated by the six goals (out of nine) that she has contributed to France's campaign. Off it, the 19-year-old is a modest, relaxed personality.

"There's a great atmosphere in the camp at the moment, everyone feels calm and confident. What is important is that we keep performing on the pitch, as that is key to a nice environment around the team. Everything's better when you're winning."

Less positive is the loss of Delphine Cascarino to a tournament-ending calf injury in the opener against Denmark. "It's a big setback for us as she's a great player who can play in lots of areas, particularly in our attack. She's very quick, strong and a fantastic player. It's a pity she has to leave." France, you sense, are going nowhere soon, though.

France v Israel kicks off at 21.15 local time in Netanya on Saturday. Tickets for that match and the others on matchday two cost 10ILS (€2.50) and are available either at the stadiums or via this link. The site is in Hebrew.