First Team 1 week ago

Gracia: “Capoue & Doucouré Are The Best Midfielders”

By Kevin Affleck

Étienne Capoue and Abdoulaye Doucouré are playing at the peak of their powers and are a match for any midfielders in the country, according to Javi Gracia.

Gracia, a none too shabby midfielder himself during his playing days, has stood and watched the French pair dominate the key midfield in nearly every game this season, the duo playing with grace, guile and plenty of industry.

Capoue is the joint leading interceptor in the league, making as many as Cardiff’s Sol Bamba who is a defender in a side on the back foot. They are 12 interceptions clear of anyone else in the league. 

Doucouré has made the 21st most passes of anyone in the Premier League and has two goals in his last two matches and five for the season. The pair are in red-hot form ahead of the mouthwatering showdown against Rúben Neves and João Moutinho, Wolves’ dynamic Portuguese duo, at Wembley on Sunday.

“I said it a long time ago,” said Gracia. “For me Capoue and Doucouré are the best midfielders in this league. They have a good balance, score goals, they cover a lot of space, they help defending, they help attacking, are very organised and are clever. I think both are playing at a very high level.”

The midfield pivots were particularly impressive at Molineux in October. Capoue scored the first with a tracer bullet from distance and then Doucouré laid on the second for Roberto Pereyra to stroke in with the outside of his left foot. They dominated the midfield exchanges to such an extent that Nuno Espirito Santo has since introduced Leander Dendoncker and played with a midfield three.

“Doucouré and Capoue played very, very well that day,” said Gracia. “They helped the team to defend, to counterattack and to score good goals. But it’s nothing different to other games – they have played at a high level all season. I know we can look at how we played against Wolves last time and how well Capoue and Doucouré played.”


Important information for supporters travelling to Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

Ladies 1 week ago

Ladies: Baranowska Gets International Call-Up

Watford FC Ladies goalkeeper Weronika Baranowska is currently on international duties with Poland Under-19 squad, for the Women’s Under-19 Euro Qualifiers.

Baranowska earned the call up for the squad after being with Poland when they had three friendlies in February and March, with games against Hungary (February 27), Kosovo (March 3) and the Czech Republic (March 5).

Golden Girls number 1 has now had three call ups with Poland Under-19 and is settling in well with the team.

“Some of the girls I was very familiar with from my call ups for the Under-17,” Baranowska told watfordfc.com. “The atmosphere is great. We all get on easily and we are all very close. It helps a lot on the pitch especially with communication.”

“The tournament in Turkey went a lot better than expected and prepped us well for these qualifiers. We as a team came out victorious winning it all after a hard-fought game with the Czech Republic. Personally, for me it was a successful one too, coming out with the best goalkeeper of the tournament award. I gave it my all and I was rewarded with this call up to the European qualifiers.” 

Not only has Baranowska been awarded a start in all games, she was handed the number one spot in the squad.

“Being picked to go to a tournament like this is a privilege,” said Baranowksa. “On top of it to be handed the no.1 jersey and starting in important games is an incredible feeling. The hard work is finally being rewarded.”

Poland’s first game came out as a disappointing loss against a strong Finland side with just one goal separating the teams.

“We fought really hard. It was a good game of football,” said the shot-stopper. “We lost an unfortunate goal in the 79th minute. We’ve worked on fixing the mistakes we made during the game and are fully ready for the next game in-front of us.”

Focus for the Under-19 Poland side now turns to their next fixture which comes around tomorrow, against Switzerland.

“Switzerland are a very good team,” said Baranowska. “As a team we know that if we play our game and play equally as good as we did on Wednesday against an equally strong opponent we can come out on top. We’ve done all the preparation we could have.”

Weronika has been Watford’s number 1 this season and has impressed the coaches, players and fans with some spectacular performances and in particularly against one of England’s best women’s football team, Manchester City.

“The support from the team [Watford FC Ladies] is amazing. From coaches to players messaging me saying good luck before games. As well as that Illi [goalkeeper coach] is a massive help during training with Watford. He knows what he’s on about and has a lot of experience in the game.”

Good luck to Weronika and the rest of WU19 Poland squad in their game tomorrow!

Switzerland Under-19 W v Poland Under-19
6pm KO (UK TIME)
Belgian National Football Centre