Changing of the Guard Complete in France

Olympique Lyonnais 0–0 Paris St. Germain

By Ben Gilby

Above: The PSG team line-up before the start of a match which virtually assured they will end Olympique Lyonnais’ dominance at the top of D1 Arkema. Photo: @PSG_Feminines

Olympique Lyonnais’ domination of D1 Arkema is over after Paris St. Germain earned a point to ensure that they will win the championship for the first time in their history by beating mid table Dijon this coming Friday night.

Lyon had to win to realistically retain their D1 title for a fifteenth successive year, but the 0-0 score line against their closest rivals means that they now need a miracle for that to happen.

PSG went into the match having won their last eighteen consecutive games in Arkema D1. Their last defeat came back in November 2019. They also had the confidence in having defeated Lyon in both the earlier league encounter and the Champions League Quarter-Finals which ended OL’s run of five consecutive titles in Europe’s top competition.

Whilst Lyon’s season has not hit the heights that they have become accustomed to, they went into the game on the back of 51 games unbeaten at home in D1.

Both sides were missing a key player at kick-off as Eugenie Le Sommer failed a late fitness test for OL with Marie-Antoinette Katoto missing with a thigh injury for PSG. In the positive side of the ledger for the Parisians, Kadidatou Diani was back for the first time since April after injury.

Above: OL keeper Sarah Bouhaddi denies Kadidatou Diani. Photo: Damien LG via @OLfeminin

The first opportunity went PSG’s way after five minutes when Sandy Baltimore got free down the left and put in a dangerous cross which Sarah Bouhaddi got a palm to but could not prevent the ball falling for Diani, but the OL keeper recovered well to get back in time to grab the resulting shot.  

For the vast majority of the first half, PSG were more than happy for Lyon to have the ball and attack. It appeared to be the right move as it allowed the Parisians to ensure they had more than enough personnel to largely nullify the impact of Ellie Carpenter, Delphine Cascarino and Sakina Karchaoui. Therefore, Christiane Endler, linked with a move to OL in the summer, had very little to do in the PSG goal.

Both sides were also keen to establish themselves as the physically dominant team. One such example came when Kadeisha Buchanan put in a thumping tackle which saw Baltimore fall awkwardly on her side, taking down her head coach Olivier Echouafni in the process.

Shortly afterwards, Carpenter saved her team in a defensive position by sprinting in to fill a gap and charge down a shot from former Chelsea star Ramona Bachmann.

Above: Ellie Carpenter made an important block on Ramona Bachmann’s shot. Photo: Damien LG via @OLfeminin

All of PSG’s chances were coming down the left with Baltimore using her pace to break through at will and fire dangerous crosses into the box. Despite her ability to push forward, Lyon’s defence, marshalled as ever by the talismanic Wendy Renard were able to mop up before Bachmann, Bruun and Dabritz could take advantage.

With eight minutes to the break, Bouhaddi denied Signe Bruun from close range as Paris broke from the left of centre once more.

Karchaoui had a great chance shortly afterwards when, from a break through the middle, the ball ended in her path, but her fierce effort was just over the bar as it remained goalless at the break.

Just after the hour mark, Bruun missed a golden opportunity for PSG. The Dane found herself in front of goal with no-one rushing towards her to close her down, but she put her shot agonisingly wide of the left hand post when it anything on target would likely have resulted in a goal.

The vast majority of the offensive pressure was now with the Parisians who knew that a victory would clinch the D1 title with a week to spare.

Ultimately, despite the plethora of talented attacking players on the pitch, it was the defenders who were on top.

Above: Sandy Baltimore, who had a magnificent game down the left for Paris St. Germain. Photo: @PSG_Feminines

Olympique Lyonnais’ inability to win a game that they absolutely had to serves to emphasise the changing of the guard in French women’s football this season. In the past, somehow, they would have found a way to earn the result they needed.

PSG’s ability to nullify Lyon’s attacking threats was the key to the victory. In doing so, they will end up being the first team other than Olympique Lyonnais to win the top tier of French women’s football since FCF Juvisy’s title success in 2006.

OLYMPIQUE LYONNAIS: Bouhaddi, Bacha, Renard, Buchanan, Carpenter, Henry, Karchaoui, Cascarino, Majri, Marozsan, Macario. Substitutes: Gallardo (GK), Kumagai, Parris, Sombath, Cayman, Taylor, Malard.

PARIS ST. GERMAIN: Endler, Morroni, Dudek, Paredes, Laurence, Dabritz, Geyoro, Bachmann, Baltimore, Diani, Bruun Substitutes: Voll (GK), Cook, Nadim, Fazer, Huitema, Le Guilly, Hurtre.

Referee: Stéphanie Frappart.

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