France full-back Marion Torrent has revealed that losing star striker Marie-Antoinette Katoto to a serious injury has only served to motivate Les Bleues even more at Euro 2022, with the rest of the squad now keen to go all the way for their stricken teammate.
The French were among the favourites coming into the tournament this summer – the second highest European team in FIFA’s rankings – and made a big statement early on when they annihilated Italy 5-1 in their opening Group D match.
They booked their place in the quarter-finals with a game to spare and it was only a stoppage time penalty against Iceland that ended an impressive winning streak at 16.
"The first match, we did not expect to make such a start," Torrent, who is among the more experienced members of the squad and was previously at the 2019 World Cup on home soil, said to 90min FR.
"Afterwards, it's not so surprising because it's true that at the World Cup, we also started very strong [4-0 against South Korea]. We were so excited and so eager to start. We quickly smothered Italy and we offered a good game. We had fun, we made everyone happy."
A much narrower 2-1 win over Belgium next was much less emphatic but showed a different side to the French squad in a tighter contest.
"In the second match, we were quite convincing in the first minutes and then afterwards, we were able to keep the score. It is also part of our qualities to be able to keep a score. In the third match, even if there was not necessarily a stake, we still had this desire to win," Torrent added.
But it was during the group stage that France suffered the major blow of losing Katoto, who came into the tournament rated as one of the best strikers in the world and a Golden Boot contender. Her ACL injury will now rule her out for a number of months.
"This misfortune, we will take it and transform it into a strength," Torrent defiantly said.
"We want to go all the way anyway…and then we also want to do it for Marie-Antoinette! I know it affected her, because there were also a lot of expectations around her for these Euros. Now I also know that she is behind us.
"We also have players who can play in this centre-forward position and who have also performed well! We have a group of 23. We also know that we can compensate for all absences. And that is also our strength. We are not 11 on the field, we are 23.
"Even if one is injured, we can always replace it with someone. Afterwards, you have to be careful not to get into the game of comparisons. Because every player is different. Each has its own qualities, which can allow the French team to win a match.
"We trust ourselves and we believe in ourselves. And it is certain that if we win the Euro, Marie-Antoinette will obviously be part of it."
France, although heavily fancied to do well, came into Euro 2022 having never won a knockout game in any of their six previous European Championship appearances. In each of the 2009, 2013 and 2017 tournaments, they have exited at the quarter-finals.
They will now attempt to break that disappointing run when they face Netherlands in the last eight.
"I know that we often talk about it because the quarters is a stage that we had trouble getting through," Torrent admitted.
"It's not a target in itself. If you pass the quarters, but you lose in the semis...
"I think we think of it as a knockout match. It's a step to go to the title. This is a step that we will try to take and keep for the next matches. It is certain that if we pass the quarter-final stage, we ‘will enter the history of Les Bleues. But we want to go down in history by winning the Euro."
The full interview with Marion Torrent was first published on 90min.com/fr