Women’s Euro 2022 – The good performances of the goalkeepers silenced the critics

Often, in recent years, this has come back like background noise, increased tenfold by the harsh criticism poured out on social networks: at each competition, the goalkeepers were often singled out, accused of not responding to opposing shots, and therefore to spoil the show. The already severe criticism that can befall goalkeepers seemed to increase tenfold when a ball of goalkeeper went around the planet.

This year, in England, as the confirmation of a 2019 World Cup where the performances of players like Christiane Endler (Chile), Sari Van Veenendaal (Netherlands) or Hedvig Lindahl (Sweden) had already set the tone, the last ramparts have multiplied the high-class services. To go from quips to praise.

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Goalkeeper performances are the best we have ever seen

Seen from France, the competition had started very strongly with Pauline Peyraud-Magnin’s excellent match against Italy (5-1). During the group phase, several high-flying performances were highlighted, such as those of Daphne Van Doomselaar, number 2 of the Netherlands self-proclaimed by her coach, Mark Parsons, “best goalkeeper of the tournament”that of the Danish Lene Christensen against Finland or the successful match of Merle Frohms with Germany against Spain (2-0).

If Mary Earps, the goalkeeper of England, favorite of the Euro, also multiplied the reassuring interventions, even the less expected doors were reported. Nicky Evrard, Belgium’s goalkeeper, thus kept her compatriots alive for 90 minutes against Sweden in the quarter-finals (0-1), despite 34 shots (including 8 on target), she only cracked in the last moments. And French fans will remember that if they had to wait so long to see their team qualify for the first semi-final in their history at the Euros, it was because of a goalkeeper in great form who n only postponed the deadline, before the victorious penalty from Eve Perisset.

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“I find that the level is really interesting, after that there is not one that particularly stands out but there are good goalkeepers with a lot of quality”rejoices Christophe Gardié, coach of OL goalkeepers since 2017 and who is therefore following the question carefully. “The goalkeeping performances are the best we have ever seen. In previous tournaments, sometimes the goalkeepers were clearly the weak link in their team. So far, that has not been the case”former England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis told The Athletic after the group stage.

Most clubs are professional today, so the goalkeepers work every day and that explains this very interesting level.

“The average level of goalkeepers has risen significantly”she confirmed. “We see a lot less hand errors and the kicking game is accomplished”rejoiced for her part Sandrine Roux, goalkeeper with 71 selections for the France team, in The Team. To explain this continuous increase in the level of goalkeepers for several years, there is a first factor that makes sense: “There are a lot of goalkeepers who are older today and who therefore have a lot of experience, so that partly explains these good performances”explains Christophe Gardié.

Daphne van Domselaar, goalkeeper of the Netherlands, during Euro 2022

Credit: Getty Images

Secondly, the galloping professionalization of women’s football in recent years has logically made it possible to make a lot of progress: “All the clubs organize themselves to have goalkeeper coaches or specific training, so from there, it is sure that it helps to progress, with the daily work, nods Christophe Gardié. Most clubs are professional today, so the goalkeepers work every day and that explains this very interesting level.”. These standards, which no longer surprise anyone among men, were far from obvious among girls even ten years ago.

There are some who compensate with their relaxation, because they have canes, but it’s true that today, what they lack is above all the size

At the time, already, some proposed to reduce the size of the goals, in order to no longer attend, in particular, these strikes from afar, well placed in the skylight. If among the men, we see few doormen lobbed by such attempts, among the girls, the images multiply and each time carry a little more controversy. Our colleagues from The Telegraph even noted this sentence heard in the media: “For women’s football to progress, you need men in goal”. Some take the example of athletics, which adapts between girls and boys, on the 110 meter hurdles event (100 meters for girls), for example.

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Critics “ungrateful”according to Gardié, who finds the idea “aberrant!”. “In boys, we find large sizes that there are less than in girlshe admits despite everything. Afterwards, there are some who compensate with their relaxation, because they have canes, but it’s true that today, what they lack is above all their height”says the former coach of the Toulouse goalkeepers, who still works on a daily basis with Christiane Endler, 1m82 under the height.

Size Matters

A situation far from usual. Thus, the average height difference between goalkeepers at the World Cup in Russia in 2018, and that of goalkeepers at the World Cup organized in France in 2019 is 16 centimeters (189 cm against 173). “We the first, we are looking for goalkeepers with size, even if that is not the only criterionsays Gardié. It’s important especially in the air, so it’s sure that the bigger the goalkeeper, the easier it will be to master this area.”.

“If tomorrow, I meet a young woman of 1.92 meters, who wants to play football, to go for the goal, has in addition a good right foot, a good left foot and who is not afraid, I promise you that I will select itsaid for his part Gilles Fouache, assistant to Corinne Deacon in The Team beginning of July. However, these are not profiles that we encounter every day, if only in everyday life, so we have to train those who want to go there”.

Apart from this size difference, the differences in physical performance between the last ramparts and gates, even if they will always exist, are significantly reduced: “We have more athletic goalkeepers. Before, we had more big mistakes in ball capture or placement”observes Roux, who now trains the keepers of the France U23 team. “In terms of explosiveness, yes, there is a small difference, but I don’t find that there are big differences on the restcomplete Gardié. I train the girls as I trained the boys, with almost the same sessions, the same strikes…”.

If a little girl wants to get started, don’t hesitate. We would like to be models for the little ones

Still, in the aerial game, errors, even without consequences, are still numerous in this Euro. “It’s definitely an area where goalkeepers need to work a lot more.recognizes the former player of Lens, Guingamp or Sochaux. Now, there is also the kicking game which is very important today, as with the boys, the goalkeeper is one of the first starters.”.

The goal conceded by Spain against Germany after Panos’ error on a raise, or the one conceded by Manuela Zinsberger against future opponents France in the semi-finals are reminders of this. More numerous, taken care of earlier and earlier, trained more and more completely, the goalkeepers who arrive today in the professional world are so many promises for the future. “We can consider this a dangerous position, but it’s not. If a little girl wants to get started, we shouldn’t hesitate. We would like to be role models for the little ones”, said Mylène Chavas, the substitute goalkeeper of the Blue. On this Euro, they seem to have achieved their goal.

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