EXCLUSIVE: Former France ace Georges backs keepers to shine at Euros
Former France defender Laura Georges has predicted that goalkeepers will show the world their quality at Women’s Euro 2022.
The women’s game continues to reach new heights year on year but criticism often comes the way of goalkeepers — particularly during major tournaments when there is increased attention.
That has included calls for the size of the goals to be reduced, a demand that has been rubbished by many high up in the game.
Two-time Champions League winner Georges thinks goalkeepers have become an easy target and backed them to silence the doubters this summer.
At the BBC’s coverage launch for the tournament, Georges told LiveScore: "What I’m looking forward to is seeing the goalkeepers. People always criticise goalkeepers. I want to see the goalkeepers showing their best.
"At tournaments, people are too critical of the goalkeepers so I hope they will show us that women’s goalkeepers can step up their game.
"People are really hard on them. When they make mistakes, everybody is talking about them.
"I hope my goalkeeper from the French national team is going to be outstanding."
Despite the immense growth of the women’s game, it is still in its relatively early stages compared to men's football with some professional clubs only introducing specialist goalkeeping coaches in the last five years.
That means the position is playing something of a catch-up game to outfield players in terms of their development.
England pair Ellie Roebuck, 22, and Hannah Hampton, 21, are just two of a new generation of stoppers who are reaping the rewards of having specialist coaching at an early stage of their development.
And Georges, who is the secretary general for the French Football Federation, has insisted that improvement in performances in recent years proves the gap is closing.
She added: "I always feel that after every competition, they say everybody is improving apart from the goalkeepers.
"The numbers, according to FIFA, are showing that there are more saves, fewer goals, goalkeepers are able to make saves all over the net.
"There are better statistics for goalkeepers. People don’t talk about all the saves and how they are faster in their movement."
France out to break silverware duck
While Georges is hoping for strong displays between the sticks across the board, there are no doubts where the 188-cap international’s allegiances lie for the tournament overall.
The ex-defender represented Les Bleus at seven major tournaments during her 17-year international career but was unable to win her country their first major silverware despite going close on several occasions.
It was the same story after her retirement at the 2019 World Cup when the host nation were knocked out in the quarter-finals by the United States despite being earmarked as favourites to go all the way.
Despite many suggesting France’s golden generation missed their opportunity, Georges is feeling confident about their chances in England this summer.
On whether France can win the tournament, Georges added: "I really hope so because we have talented players, we’ve always had talented players.
"We have a good mix of experienced players who have won the Champions League and young players.
"What is interesting is the depth of the bench. Players are there who are starters for their clubs but are still on the bench for France. So I feel like if one is injured another can step up.
"I just hope they are feeling confident in order to show their talent."
Ones to watch
French outfit Lyon winning last season’s Champions League by beating a star-studded Barcelona outfit will no doubt provide confidence for the national team next month.
It was also an impressive season for Paris Saint-Germain, with 10 of Corinne Diacre's 23-player squad coming from those two clubs — including many of their exciting attacking options.
On who to look out for from the impressive group, Georges added: "Wendie Renard is key at the back to give confidence to the defence. The defence is pretty strong.
"The forwards know each other from Lyon but you can also have a forward line made up of PSG players.
"Everyone is talking about [Marie-Antoinette] Katoto. She’s been doing really well and scoring from different angles during the season.
"I’m looking forward to seeing the young talent showing their technique and energy."
France kick off their Euro 2022 campaign against Italy at Rotherham’s New York Stadium on July 10 before facing Belgium and Iceland in Group D.
Follow every game live from the Women’s Euros this summer across TV, radio and online on the BBC.