But is this France team that has so often appeared divided in the past now united in their goal to achieve what their undoubted talent should be able to?
Diacre’s tough decisions paying off?
There have been tensions between head coach Corinne Diacre and some France players pretty much from when she took charge back in 2017, tensions that have spilled over and disrupted attempts of success at previous tournaments.
“Corinne Diacre is a very good manager but she is a very difficult person to deal with, even with her own players,” French football expert Julien Laurens said on BBC Radio 5 live.
“It is not that she doesn’t like them or love them, she is just a very cold manager, very serious, very disciplined. It is all about discipline.”
Diacre chose not to include Amandine Henry and Eugenie Le Sommer – this year’s Champions League final player of the match and France’s record scorer respectively – in her squad for the Euros, and leaving out such huge players is a significant call that could potentially backfire.
There is, of course, still time for that to happen but Diacre can understandably feel vindicated by her decision to choose the squad she has.
In their group opener against Italy they put on an attacking masterclass, with Grace Geyoro scoring a hat-trick, Kadidiatou Diani giving her opponent on the flank nightmares that she may only just be recovering from while Marie-Antoinette Katoto – widely tipped to win the Golden Boot at Euro 2022 – immediately got up and running with a goal and an assist.
That attacking dominance continued against Belgium where only poor finishing and great goalkeeping prevented them from winning by a bigger scoreline than the 2-1 win they did manage.
While it was not a big victory, Diacre felt it showed another positive side to her team as they got the job done.
“We are not going to be able to score goals easily every game,” she said.
“If you think you will see four or five goals every game I can assure you that will not happen.”
Defensive concerns and lessons from the past
So far, so good? Definitely, but there are still some areas of concern.
With the greatest respect to both Italy and Belgium, France are yet to face one of the stronger attacking sides at this tournament and on the few occasions they have had to defend they have looked suspect.
Italy were unfortunate not to score first before France went on a scoring spree and Belgium’s equaliser on Thursday night came out of nowhere as the defence let its guard down.
They also lost star striker Katoto to injury early against Belgium, with Diacre unable to provide an update on how long she could be out for.
There is also a cautionary tale from their last major tournament.
At the 2019 World Cup, held on home soil, they made blistering start and won all three of their group games to finish top but once again they exited at the quarter-final stage as they were beaten by eventual winners USA.
“They got worse in 2019 after starting like a house on fire,” former Leeds United forward Lucy Ward said on BBC One.
“They like a fall-out historically, France. In this tournament the only team that will beat France is France. There’s a small amount of time you’re playing. The rest of the time you’re together. You have to make sure it’s not a negative environment.”
For now there does not appear to be signs of disruption behind the scenes. At the end of Thursday’s game against Belgium, the France players hugged and went together to applaud their supporters.
“This has put us in a great position for the quarter-finals,” France midfielder Delphine Cascarino said after the Belgium win.
“We now have time to study other teams. We are on the right track.”
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