French Football

The View From France

Jean-Pierre Thiesset rounds up all the actions from the twentieth week of action in D1 Arkema, French women’s football’s top flight (11/5/21).

Above: Jamaican international Khadija Shaw scored the goal that secured a first ever qualification for the UEFA Women’s Champions League. Photo: Daniel Vaquero/SIPA

Soyaux won 1-0 at home against Fleury. Goal for Soyaux from Henriette Akaba (90). With this victory, Soyaux still have a chance to avoid relegation in D2; They are now 4 points ahead from Issy which are 11th.

Bordeaux won 1-0 away from home against Montpellier. Goal for Bordeaux from Khadija Shaw (76). With this victory, Bordeaux are now certain to finish third and to play the UEFA Women Champion League next year for the first time in their history.

Paris FC won away from home against Dijon 1-0. Goal for Paris FC from Clara Matéo (57). Paris FC will finish fourth in the D1 Arkema Championships whatever their results in the last two games.

Paris Saint Germain won 2-0 away from home against Le Havre despite never quite hitting the heights. Goals for Paris SG from Nadia Nadim (6) and Marie-Antoinette Katoto (80). With their defeat, Le Havre cannot hope of finishing better than eleventh. After being eliminated by Barcelona in UEFA Women’s Champion League, PSG played an additional match in D1 with a victory away from home against cross city rivals Paris FC 3-2 despite missing Kadiaditou Diani. Unfortunately, after her goal Katoto had to be substituted due to injury and PSG now face potentially having to play the likely title decider against Lyon on May 30 without its leading scorer.

Olympique Lyonnais won away from home against Issy 4-0. Goals from Amel Majri (10 penalty), Catarina Macario (32 and 42) and Eugénie Le Sommer (56). Without playing at their best, Lyon were in control and were never in danger. After the replacement of Jean-Luc Vasseur by Sonia Bompastor as coach two weeks ago, it seems that Lyon are improving after successive wins by big scores – 5-1 against Le Havre on April 30 and 4-0 against Issy in the last game.

Guingamp were held 0-0 at home to Reims.

The D1 ARKEMA table now looks like this:

PSG End Lyon Champions League Dominance

Jean-Pierre Thiesset gives us his report of the UEFA Women Champion League Quarter-Final second leg, Olympique Lyonnais game against Paris SG (20/4/21).

Paris St Germain won 2-1 away from home against Lyon, and qualified for the UEFA Women’s Champions League semi-final against Barcelona. Unfortunately for Lyon fans and as I foresaw, Lyon were not able to step up. Even if Lyon scored quickly in the game, PSG players were more efficient with 13 shots on goal, of which four were on target while Lyon had only five shots, three of which were on target. PSG players were also more efficient on the passes with 70% of successful passes against 61% for Lyon.

Despite Lyon taking the lead thanks to a goal from Catarina Macario (4), PSG hit back with goals from Paris SG Grace Geyoro (24) and a Wendie Renard own goal (61).

Is it the end of Lyon era? Their next game against Paris St. Germain, which will take place in Lyon on May 29 for the D1 Arkema final will tell us.

The View From France

Jean-Pierre Thiesset rounds up all the actions from the sixteenth and seventeenth weeks of action in D1 Arkema, French women’s football’s top flight (6/4/21).

Round Sixteen:

Above: Irene Paredes – scorer of two goals for PSG in Round Sixteen. Photo: @Irene_Paredes4

The match between Issy and Paris FC was been cancelled due to Covid19.

Reims won 2-1 at home against Le Havre. Goals from Sonia Ouchène (33) and Melissa Herrera (74) for Reims; Goal from Ashley Clark (41) for Le Havre.

Bordeaux won away from home 2-1 at Fleury. Goals from Inès Jaurena (12) and Ghoutia Karchouni (19) for Bordeaux; Fleury replied with a penalty from Dominika Grabowska.

Soyaux and Guingamp were not able to score and finished 0-0 at Soyaux.

Paris St Germain won away from home against Montpellier 3-0 with goals from Nadia Nadim (24) and Irene Paredes (60 and 65).

Olympique Lyonnais won away from home against Dijon 3-0. The goals from Saki Kumagai (24), Catarina Macario (55) and Melvine Malard (79). Notably, there was a first goal in D1 Arkema for Macario.

In the battle between Paris SG and Lyon for D1 Arkema title, both won 3-0 away from home and Paris SG is still one point ahead of Lyon.

Round Seventeen:

Above: Melissa Herrera – two goals for Reims. Photo: Linea de Gol.

Paris FC v Fleury and Guingamp v Olympique Lyonnais were cancelled due to Covid19 cases at Paris FC and Lyon.

Bordeaux consolidated its third place in the table by winning 1-0 at home against Issy. Goal from Katja Snoeijs (12).

Dijon continued to secure its place in the middle of the table by winning 2-0 away from home against Le Havre who are last in the table. Goals for Dijon came from Sh’Nia Gordon (18) and Solène Barbance (20).

Reims won away from home against Montpellier 4-0. Goals for Reims from Melissa Herrera (4 and 30), Kessya Busy (63) and Sonia Ouchène (67). Montpellier continue to lose despite a squad of good players and have definitively lost any chance to achieve a Champions League spot by finishing third in the table.

Paris St Germain won at home against Soyaux 7-0. Goals from Marie-Antoinette Katoto (10, 61 and 74), Paulina Dudek (40), Formiga (45+1), Grace Geroyo (63) and Kadidiatou Diani (66). It was an impressive game by Paris SG who never gave Soyaux a chance to score. Marie-Antoinette Katoto with her three goals is now in first place in the D1 Arkema scoring charts.

The D1 ARKEMA table now looks like this:

PSG Rue Missed Opportunities In Quarter-Final

Jean-Pierre Thiesset reports on the UEFA Women’s Champions League Quarter-Final First Leg game between Paris St. Germain and Olympique Lyonnais (26/3/21).

Above: About 20 OL ANG’ELLES fans were at the Groupama OL Training Centre to cheer for Olympique Lyonnais’ Women team on March 12, 2021. Photo: Jean-Pierre Thiesset.

Olympique Lyonnais gained an important 1-0 win away from home in the first leg of their UEFA Women’s Champions League Quarter-Final against Paris St. Germain.

As an OL fan, it is difficult for me to say it, but Paris St. Germain deserved to win this game especially in the first half when they could have scored several times. Additionally, Lyon’s midfielders were not able to keep the ball which prevented them from putting their strikers in good positions to be able to threaten the PSG goal.

Lyon’s all important goal came from the penalty spot from Wendie Renard with four minutes left. It was awarded despite not being earned by a Lyon player.

Nothing is decided and the return game in Lyon on Wednesday March 31 will be interesting to watch. Even with one away goal, Lyon will have to step up to progress into the semi-finals.

Katriina Talaslahti: Living The Dream in Lyon

Jean-Pierre Thiesset spoke exclusively to Olympique Lyonnais’ goalkeeper Katriina Talaslahti about her career so far, what life is like at Lyon and her aims for the future (13/3/21).

Katriina Talaslahti was born on September 21, 2000 in Espoo, Finland and is the third of three sisters. She is Finnish and started at small club close to her home at the age of five years old following her oldest sister to the pitch.

She started as a striker and scored goals but quickly she preferred to try to stop the opposition strikers from scoring and began as a goalkeeper at six years old. After playing for FC Honka and Leppävaaran Pallo in Finland, she moved to Germany in 2014 at 13 years old near Munich to FC Nürnberg where she played with her sister Pauliina Talaslahti. She moved onto Bayern Munich one year later and stayed with them for four years until Olympique Lyonnais contacted her and signed her on a three year contract in July 2019.

Katriina has made several appearances for Finland’s National youth squad. She played once for Finland U17s squad in 2016/2017 and four times for Finland U19s squad in 2018-2019.

Above: Katriina Talaslahti during a training session with Olympique Lyonnais on 19th September 2019. Photo: Jean-Pierre Thiesset.

While living in Germany, Katriina played for the Bayern State team for several years, of which Bayern’s games against the Czech team are particularly noteworthy. Also, Katriina has won the Women’s 2.Bundesliga Championship with FC Bayern München in 2019 and U17 Bundesliga Championship 2017 in FC Bayern München as well. She was selected the best goalkeeper in Southern States of Germany 2015. It’s good to mention that Finland have just qualified for the 2022 UEFA Women’s European Championships in England.

Not a lot of people know it, but Katriina already played against Paris St. Germain and Liverpool. It was in August 2018 with Bayern Munich at the Toulouse Ladies Cup against PSG and in a training game against Liverpool. She was also in the Bayern Munich’s squad for a Women’s UEFA Champions League game in September 2018.

Katriina speaks several languages. She speaks Finnish, her native language, although she told me that she preferred to speak English during our interview because she was more confident to find her words in English as she left Finland almost eight years ago. She also speaks German fluently and is currently learning French. She studied in an English International IB School in Germany when she was younger and graduated there. Currently, she continues to study Business Management in University with online studies.

Interview:

Jean-Pierre Thiesset: Who/what inspired you to become a football player?

Katriina Talaslahti: My two older sisters played football and I never considered practicing another sport than football. I was born into a sporting family. My mother played volleyball when she was younger, and my dad was a really good squash player.

JPT: Who are your favorites women players (French and foreign)?

KT: I do not have like one player that I prefer, because so many women players get better and better, so it is hard just to focus on one. I really appreciate everybody because all of them have little things that are better than another.

JPT: Who is your role-model if you have one?

KT: I do not have a role model. I just have for the men side Manuel Neuer mostly because I used to play in Bayern Munich like him.

JPT: What is your greatest challenge on the pitch?

KT: On the pitch, my greatest challenge is to improve as a player and always win titles. It is not only for me but for the team; The challenge for me is to make the team better and bring my qualities to the team and try to help the team to win titles. Obviously, I think it is a great moment when we win French Cup or Women’s UEFA Champions League as a team.

JPT: What is your greatest challenge off the pitch?

KT: Off the pitch, maybe to keep the environment you are living in safe. I am very calm, and I like to support others. In Lyon we have so many foreigners that are far from their family and friends that we need to comfort each other when one is a little bit down. It is important to keep the friendship and your family close.

Above: Katriina Talaslahti training with Olympique Lyonnais on 18th October 2019. Photo: Jean-Pierre Thiesset.

JPT: Who are your closest teammates?

KT: Jessica Silva, Janice Cayman and Nikita Parris. We used to get together a lot; we go out for coffee with the “foreigners” because we got to be very close to each other. For example, Jess and I arrived in Lyon at the same time, so we got really close, you know. I think I get along with everybody, but those people are the closest to me.

JPT: What do you like to get up to off the pitch?

KT: I like to get along with people. We mostly go for coffee (laughs). We like to go to the parc. Sometimes, if I am alone, I watch Netflix but that is not every day because I do not really like to be by myself at home. I love to explore and walk around to discover things. And obviously, I like to call my family and friends to know how they are doing. As a person, if I am busy, I feel happier. I would love to go to New York especially since one of my oldest sisters leaved in New Jersey, but right now it is difficult, and I will have to wait (laughs).

JPT: You do not play to video games?

KT: Video games, No (laughs).

JPT: What is your favourite animal?

KT: I do love Pandas; They are so cute. I am not really a cat or dog fan, and I do not really know why. Actually, my cousin has two cats and they are lovely and I love them but as to own one myself no. I do like all animals. I like giraffes too because they are amazing, they are so high (laughs).

JPT: What are your favourite foods?

KT: I like Salmon and mashed potatoes with vegetables like broccoli. I also like Finnish dark bread and then coffee.

JPT: What about Lyon specialties?

KT: I like French food in general but there are so many different names that I cannot cite one in particular (laughs). I like French food even if sometimes I do not know exactly what it is.

JPT: What kind of music do you like?

KT: I like pop music, you know what it is playing on the radio, and sometimes rap. I do not really like rock; it is too heavy for me.

JPT: What makes OL such a great club to play for?

KT: When Lyon contacted me in 2019, I thought “Wow!” I guess I did a really good job before to have a club like Lyon propose me a contract and I signed. It is just an incredible environment to train, and I am such a young player compare to the other players (laughs). I am young, and for me as a young player it is an amazing environment to improve as a player. 

JPT: I hope you will play more, and you are too I guess?

KT: To be honest it is a very hard situation because there are a lot of stars and it is really hard for me to play but it is a situation you need to adapt to, and I hope so that I will get to play more. I still have a long career in front of me and I know I have to be patient. That is my goal also to be first, I am not satisfied to be second or third goalkeeper, I want to play of course, and I think that time will come to me, I am one hundred percent sure.

JPT: What is your main quality?

KT: On the pitch, I would say I have good feet for my age, and I am confident. Even though I am around professional people, I can adapt very quickly to different situations. But I still need to improve, and this is why I really like training (laughs). Off the pitch, I am very friendly, but I have also my limits. When I have to do something, I have got to do it without delay; this is probably due to my stay in Germany, and my friend Nikita says that I do things the German way and that I am strict. I would say that I am not strict, but I am on time (laughs). I am also very flexible so that is probably why I can easily adapt myself.

Above: Katriina Talaslahti at Olympique Lyonnais training session on 22nd August 2019. Photo: Jean-Pierre Thiesset.

JPT: What do you need to improve in your game?

KT: It is hard to say for myself and I guess it is probably easier for someone from outside, but I think I need to improve my concentration during the game. I think it will come with more years of experience and as I used to say, it does not matter which age you are, you can always improve. You need to have good mentality to believe you can actually improve and be better.

JPT: Is there a message you would like to give to your fans?

KT: Thank you very much for your support. The players miss hearing your voices so much. To be honest, when you are cheering for us, it means a lot and it gives us more strength. Especially for women’s football, we would like to increase the fan level like it is in the men football. I have a lot of men friends and sometimes they say, “We come to watch women football because they look pretty”. But I think that women’s football is going so much better and people are more interested in the way we play. Lyon fans, you come to the game and you cheer for us and it is a big help for us to be motivated and I really want to thank you for that.

Convincing Champions League Wins For Top Two Ahead of D1 “Decider”

Jean-Pierre Thiesset reports on the last game from the first leg of the UEFA Women’s Champions League round of sixteen between Paris Saint Germain and Sparta Prague and on the second leg game in Copehagen where Brondby hosted Lyon (11/3/21).

Paris St. Germain 5–0 Sparta Prague on March 9, 2021:

This game was supposed to be played last week in Prague but was delayed due to Covid19 and the venues reversed. The return game will be on March 17 in the Czech Republic.

Paris St. Germain won 5-0 at home against Sparta Prague. The game was largely dominated by the D1 table toppers, who were never in difficulty. They played in a very focused and calm manner with a lot of opportunities to score in the game. Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Sandy Baltimore both played outstandingly. Katoto scored two goals and made one decisive pass despite playing only 61 minutes. Baltimore made three decisive passes in 71 minutes on the field.

Goals for Paris SG came from Marie-Antoinette Katoto (29 and 36) both with a header at the far post on a cross from Sandy Baltimore from the right side (the first with her right foot and the second with her left foot), Ramona Bachmann (56), Ashley Elizabeth Lawrence (66) on a free kick from Sandy Baltimore from the left side, and Luana (81).

Brondby 1-3 Olympique Lyonnais on March 10, 2021:

Above: Action from Olympique Lyonnais’ away win in Copenhagen against Brondby. Photo: Damien LG via @OLFeminin

After a less than convincing game in the first leg, Lyon performed much better and were able to win 3-1 against Brondby away from home (5-1 on aggregate). Even if Brondby scored first on a counter attack where Selma Bacha sprained her left ankle, Lyon dominated the game and were never really in danger during this game. For her first full game in UEFA Women Champions League with Lyon, Damaris Egurrola produced a very promising performance. It was less convincing from Catarina Macario, who played the second half and showed how much she needs to progress to adapt to the level of her teammates and UWCL games.

Brondby’s goal came from Nanna Christiansen (11). Goals for Lyon from Nikita Parris (32) on a cross from Sakina Karchaoui from the left side, Melvine Malard (42), and Wendie Renard (50) from the  penalty spot after a foul on Amel Majri.

Paris St. Germain’s performance against Sparta Prague was very convincing ahead of what should be D1 Arkema championship decider against Lyon, which will take place in the Groupama Stadium at Lyon on Saturday March 13 at 9:00 pm local time. Furthermore, they will have one more day of rest than Lyon. However, Lyon performed a lot better in the second leg of their tie against Brondby and managed to rest several of its players such as Ellie Carpenter and Eugénie Le Sommer, who did not play at all, plus Delphine Cascarino who played only the first half and Amandine Henry who played only 15 minutes. This decider will be very interesting.

Defending Champions In Less Than Convincing Win

Jean-Pierre Thiesset reports on the first leg of the UEFA Women’s Champions League round of sixteen tie between Olympique Lyonnais and Brondby (5/3/21).

Above: Fans gathering at the Groupama Stadium. Photo via: Jean-Pierre Thiesset.

About 20 OL ANG’ELLES fans were at the Groupama Stadium entrance to cheer for Olympique Lyonnais Women team even if the game was not open to public.

Above: Fans welcome the OL Feminin team coach to the Groupama Stadium. Photo via: Jean-Pierre Thiesset.

Lyon at home in the Groupama Stadium, won 2-0 against Brondby. A larger score was expected but despite the fact that the home side largely dominated the Danes (almost 75% possession for Lyon), they were not really efficient (23 shots but only 2 goals). After just six minutes, Brondby almost scored from a free-kick from Nanna Christiansen 18 yards in the centre of the field, which finished on the crossbar while Sarah Bouhaddi, Lyon goalkeeper, was beaten.

Goals for Lyon came from Lionesses star Nikita Parris (30) header at the first post on a cross from Amel Majri from the right side and Melvine Malard (92) on a cross from Janice Cayman from the right side.

So, the job is not completely done and a big game from Lyon in Copenhagen against Brondby will still be necessary to ensure to qualify for the Quarter-Finals.

If the strikers from Lyon were not able to score more, we must point out the great game from Lyon left and right defenders: Sakina Karchaoui, which played 60 minutes as a left midfielder and 30 minutes as left defender after Selma Bacha was replaced; Selma Bacha, which played 73 balls in only 60 minutes on the field; and Ellie Carpenter as right defender, which was elected player of the game. I would like to also highlight the good game of Catarina Macario for her first 60 minutes in UEFA Women Champion League game. We have to note that we saw an encouraging return of Eugénie Le Sommer for the last 30 minutes of the game.

The View From France

Jean-Pierre Thiesset rounds up all the action from the fifteenth week of action in D1 Arkema, French women’s football’s top flight (1/3/21).

Paris St. Germain won 4-0 at home against Issy. PSG are still league leaders, one point ahead of Lyon. Goals from Luana (12), Kadidiatou Diani (85, 87), and Marie-Antoinette Katoto (89). Issy was able to keep up the suspense during most of the game even if PSG dominated the game, but PSG scored three goals in four minutes at the end.

Olympique Lyonnais won away from home 2-0 against Soyaux. Goals for Lyon from Saki Kumagai (27) and Dzsenifer Marozsan (87 penalty); the penalty was won by Sakina Karchaoui who came on as a substitute in the 58th minute. Once again it was not really an easy game for Lyon, who dominated, but found it hard to score despite creating numerous chances. Soyaux came very close to scoring after 64 minutes on a counterattack.

Bordeaux won at home against Dijon 6-0. Bordeaux largely dominated the game and shut down Dijon by scoring quickly 2 goals (6 and 7). Goal from Maëlle Garbino (6, 7 and 25), Khadija Shaw (62 and 72), and Claire Lavogez (80). With this win, Bordeaux secures its third place being now eight points ahead of Montpellier and with a game in hand.

Above: Mary Fowler – 18 years-old, four Matildas caps and a first goal in D1 Arkema for Montpellier. Photo: The Guardian.

Montpellier at home against Dijon was not able to do better than a draw 1-1. Goals for Dijon by Shnia Demetrice Gordan (45) and for Montpellier by 18 year-old Matilda’s starlet Mary Fowler (66). By losing two points at home Montpellier allows Bordeaux to be now 8 points ahead of them. I guess that the third place is definitely lost for Montpellier even if there are still seven games to play.

The surprise of this round comes from Reims who won away from home against Fleury (2-1) ending a run of three straight defeats. Goals for Fleury by Cecilie Sandvej (24) and for Reims by Melissa Gomes (44) and Kessya Busy (58).

Paris FC and Guingamp were not able to score and finished 0-0. The D1 ARKEMA table now looks like this:

International Friendlies

(27/2/21) France met Switzerland twice in a matter of days in Metz. Jean-Pierre Thiesset reports: For their first encounter on 20th February, Corinne Diacre, the France coach, tried several new things. A 3-4-3 or 5-2-3 formation depending on whether the team was attacking or defending, with several young players in the team. I have to say that due to the number of players unavailable, the coach was left with reduced choices. Eugénie Le Sommer was out due to Covid.  Griedge Mbock, Amandine Henry, Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Valérie Gauvin due to injury. It was not a great game, but France won 2-0 by playing a serious game. Goals were score by Wendie Renard (12) following a free kick of Amel Majri and Perle Moroni (81), which just came in, on a cross from Eve Périsset, who came on as a substitute five minutes.

The second game, which took place on 23rd February, was back to a more classical 4-4-2 formation with several young players, but it was still not a very exciting game. France won 2-0 again with two goals from central defender Wendie Renard. This is not comforting for the team, which seems not to be able to score in the game without free kicks and penalty and with one of its defenders on target. Goals were scored by Wendie Renard (77) following a free kick from Eve Perisset and (90) thanks to a penalty.

Selma Bacha – Part of an Exciting New Generation in French Women’s Football

Jean-Pierre Thiesset managed to grab a chat with Olympique Lyonnais and France U20’s star Selma Bacha.

Selma Bacha was born on 9th November 2000 in Lyon. She is French of Algerian and Tunisian origin. She started her career with FC Gerland in Lyon at the age of five years-old after following her older brother at a training session. Bacha played as an amateur in 2008 and 2009 with FC Gerland before joining Olympique Lyonnais.

One of the brightest potential future stars of French women’s football, the young left back signed her professional contract with OL during the 2017/18 season on 1st July 2017 at the age of sixteen.

Selma has made nine appearances for France U16s squad in 2016, scoring two goals, thirteen appearances with the national U17 squad between 2016 and 2017 (and five goals), which included three games at the U17 European Championship final phase in 2017. Additionally, she appeared five times for France U20s since 2017. This includes playing in the 2018 U20 World Cup in France as well as being in the winning U19 European Championship French team in 2019.

Above: Selma Bacha during the D1 game between Rodez and OL game on September 30, 2018. Photo: Jean-Pierre Thiesset

At only 20 years old, Selma has an impressive prize list that a lot of international players in the world could envy her.

Interview:

Jean-Pierre Thiesset: What is your preferred position and which other positions could you play?

Selma Bacha: My preferred position is at left back because I have learned to like this role. I like also to play left midfielder to be able to go up the field a little more and participate more to the team attacks. However, at Olympique Lyonnais, the left back plays rather high because we are a team who attack a lot and this is what I like.

Above: Selma Bacha during D1 game between OL and Metz on May 4, 2019. Photo: Jean-Pierre Thiesset.

JPT: Who/what inspired you to become a football player?

SB: My brother who brought me to a training session when I was five years old. I love it so much that I engaged myself in football; it is as simple as that. I had tested Gymnastics before, but I did not like it at all.

JPT: Who are your favourite women players (French and foreign)?

SB: Wendie Renard, Amel Majri, Griedge Mbock and Pernille Harder.

JPT: Who is your role-model if you have one?

SB: When I was young Amel Majri was my model but now that I have grown up, I do not have a role-model anymore and told it to Amel. I just want to be myself.

JPT: What is your greatest challenge on and off the pitch?

SB: On the pitch, always obtain what I want and win. On the other hand, outside the field, I do not really challenge myself.

JPT: Who are your closest teammates?

SB: Griedge Mbock, Amel Majri, Delphine Cascarino, Wendie Renard, Sakina Karchaoui and Melvine Mallard who is a close friend.

JPT: What do you like to get up to off the pitch?

SB: First rest, I love so much to rest. I like to watch action films. I like also to read books on life in general; I try to read books that tell real stories for example but no science fiction. I spend time also to learn English because I told to myself that it could useful to speak English for my career.

JPT: You do not play to video games?

SB: No, I am not too much into that.

JPT: What is your preferred animal?

SB: Baby cats. Because they are so cute.

JPT: What are your preferred foods?

SB: My Mother’s couscous.

JPT: What makes OL such a great club to play for?

SB: First, because we have an excellent president, Jean-Michel Aulas, who does everything to ensure that we succeed. The prize list of the club, because nobody has ever achieved what OL has done and I hope that it will last a long time. Additionally, the club has the best players in the world.

JPT: The other players should be pleased also to play with you.

SB: I hope so (laughs).

JPT: You are beginning to become an important player in the team.

SB: When I will be selected in France A squad, then I will be an important player. This is one of my main objectives.

JPT: What is your main quality?

SB: Generosity.

Above: Selma Bacha “generous” even during training session in Groupama Training Center on September, 2019; Photo: Jean-Pierre Thiesset

JPT: What do you need to improve in your game?

SB: I think that I must still improve myself a bit defensively especially on the tactical level; know how to place myself, read what the opponent will do and anticipate even if I have already made progress. Otherwise, on technical, athletics and mental levels, I think that I have progressed very well.

JPT: Is there a message you would like to give to your fans?

SB: First take care of yourself and of your relatives, even if this period is a bit complicated. We missed you on the fields because it is empty without you. Thanks to everyone who support me, and I hope that we will see you soon on the pitch.

TRIBUTE TO GERARD HOUILLER

Jean-Pierre Thiesset gives us news about the tribute to Gérard Houiller that Olympique Lyonnais wants to organize (19/2/21).

Above: Gérard Houllier, a legend at Lyon. Photo: Libero Lyon.

The pitch of the Groupama OL Training Centre on which the women team play in D1 Arkema will be named after Gérard Houllier. A fresco that will be located at the end of the “Allée des Lumières” will be realized. A match with Liverpool will be set up and will involve over the next two years, the men’s team and also the women’s team.

The View From France

Jean-Pierre Thiesset updates us on France’s international schedule and provides some important news from the Olympique Lyonnais club (13/2/21).

After the withdrawal of Iceland team following that of Norway last week and the impossibility to find two other nations to compete with, the planned France tournament has been cancelled. The tournament will be replaced by two friendly games against Switzerland the only remaining team. The games will take place at Metz on February 17, 2021 and February 20, 2021.

On the Olympique Lyonnais side, there has been the renewal of a contract. Amandine Henry has signed a two year extension and should stay with Lyon up to June 2023.

Above: From left to right: Jean-Luc Vasseur (coach), Amandine Henry and Jean-Michel Aulas (President).
Photo: @Damien LG from OL website.

After the extending the deals of Sarah Bouhaddi and Dzsenifer Marozsan this summer of an up to June 2023 and those of Ada Hegerberg and Griedge Mbock up to June 2024 recently, Lyon continue to secure its main players while preparing the future with new high-level young players like Damaris Egurrola (up to June 2023) and Catarina Macario (up to June 2024) who signed last month.

The View From France

Jean-Pierre Thiesset rounds up all the news from the women’s ga,e in France. This week he informs us what went on in the fourteenth week of action in D1 Arkema, and highlights the latest squad selection for the French national team. (9/2/21).

Paris St. Germain won 5-0 away from home at Fleury. PSG are still league leaders, one point ahead of Lyon. Goals from Sandy Baltimore (24, 62), Marie-Antoinette Katoto (61), Kadidiatou Diani (69 penalty) and Irene Paredes (90+1). It was an easy game for PSG, who played seriously and do not let any chance go to Fleury.

Olympique Lyonnais won at home 2-1 against Montpellier. Goals for Lyon from Amandine Henry (4) and Elisa De Almeida (40, own goal following a shot by Sakina Karchaoui); Montpellier’s goal came from Clarisse Le Bihan (6). Once again it was a difficult game for Lyon, which was not able to assert its game on the opposition. Even if Wendie Renard, their captain, was suspended due to three yellow cards, that does not explain everything. We saw also the debut of Catarina Macario who produced an encouraging debut but still needs to improve.

Above: Catarina Macario made her debut for Olympique Lyonnais. Photo: Damien LG.

Soyaux won away from home at Issy 1-0 with a goal from Laura Bourgoin (22). After 10 games without a victory, this is very good result for Soyaux against one of their direct rivals for staying in D1 next year. Soyaux and Issy were tied at 7 points with 1 game in hand for Issy; now Issy still have 1 game in hand but Soyaux are 3 points ahead of them and furthermore with a better goal average.

Guingamp by winning away from home against Le Havre 1–0, continues to slowly secure its place in the middle of the table. The only goal of the game was scored for Guingamp by Faustine Robert (76). Le Havre, who are still not able to win even at home, stay bottom of the table.  

Two games were postponed due to Covid19: Dijon – Bordeaux and Reims – Paris FC.

The D1 ARKEMA table now looks like this:

 PWDLFAPtsGD
Paris St. Germain14131057240+ 55
Olympique Lyonnais14130150539+ 45
Bordeaux13823321426+ 18
Montpellier14626172220– 5
Guingamp14617202319– 3
Fleury13544112119– 10
Paris FC13535212218– 1
Dijon12516152216– 7
Reims13328173011– 13
Soyaux143110102910– 19
Issy1321108547– 46
Le Havre13121010245– 14

As a Lyon fan, I start to worry about the future in this season, not only in D1 Arkema championships but also in UEFA Women Champion League. In D1 Arkema, Paris SG won their games pretty easily and have now a goal difference of 55, 10 goals in front of Lyon. If Lyon does not improve their game soon, it will be very difficult for them to win against Paris SG even at home and they will be far from favourites in UWCL.

International News:

Above: Sakina Karchaoui – selected again for France. Photo: @Sakinakarchaoui.

This morning Corinne Diacre gave her list of players for the second Tournoi de France organized to prepare for the next European Championships. This tournament will take place in February from Wednesday 17 to Tuesday 23 at Metz and Sedan in the North East of France. For this first rendezvous of the year, France (3rd at FIFA ranking) will play against 3 other teams: Iceland (16th), Switzerland (19th) and a third team which will replace Norway who cannot be there for Covid19 reasons.

Games schedule:

  • 17.02.2021, 19:00, Metz: To be determined – Switzerland
  • 17.02.2021, 21 :10, Sedan: France – Iceland
  • 20.02.2021, 19:00, Sedan: Iceland – To be determined
  • 20.02.2021, 21 :10, Metz: France- Switzerland
  • 23.02.2021, 19 :00, Sedan: Iceland- Switzerland
  • 23.02.2021, 21:10, Metz: France-To be determined

Three main players are missing in this squad due to injury: Amandine Henry (Lyon), Griedge Mbock (Lyon) and Viviane Asseyi (Bayern Munich). Sarah Bouhaddi is not in this list too. Three players are in the list for the first time: Mylène Chavas (Dijon Goalkeeper), Constance Picaud (Le Havre Goalkeeper) and Ella Palis (Bordeaux Midfielder). We can remark also that two players having very good performances with their teams are not selected either: Keira Hamraoui (Barcelona Midfielder) and Aurélie Kaci (Real Madrid Midfielder).

Goalkeepers: Mylène Chavas, Solène Durand, Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, Constance Picaud
Defenders: Estelle Cascarino, Elisa De Almeida, Sakina Karchaoui, Perle Morroni, Eve Périsset, Wendie Renard, Marion Torrent, Aïssatou Toukara.
Midfielders: Charlotte Bilbault, Julie Dufour, Grace Geyoro, Oriane Jean-François, Léa Khelifi, Amel Majri, Ella Palis, Sandie Toletti.
Strikers: Sandy Baltimore, Delphine Cascarino, Kadidiatou Diani, Valérie Gauvin, Marie-Antoinette Katoto, Eugénie Le Sommer, Clara Matéo.

The View From France

Last weekend saw the last sixteen of the French Cup. Jean-Pierre Thiesset rounds up all the action. (2/2/21).

This weekend saw the entry of the D1 Arkema teams in the last sixteen round of French Cup. This year is a little special as the D1 teams have to compete against each other. So six top flight teams are already eliminated.

Olympique Lyonnais qualified for the next round by winning away from home 5–0 against Reims. There was no contest from Reims in this game dominated by the visitors from the beginning to the end. Jean-Luc Vasseur, Lyon Coach, even used this game to give play time to several players and tried different game plans like putting Sakina Karchaoui as a left striker in the first half or putting the recruit Damaris Egurrola in the middle in the second half. Goals for Lyon by Dzsenifer Marozsán (16, 51, 53), Wendie Renard (36 penalty following a long run of Delphine Cascarino from her own 20 yards), Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir (49). Dzsenifer Marozsan scored her second goal with a lob from 40 yards. Sara Gunnarsdottir scored her goal with a lob also from 18 yards.

As we saw our second left back in this game, I would like to use this opportunity to present a comparison of their outstanding statistics. Selma Bacha: left back in the first half – 40 balls played: 34 passes (85% successful), one cross, three balls recovered and no errors. Sakina Karchaoui: left back in the second half – 39 balls played: 32 passes (87% successful), seven balls recovered, twice heading off the line with her goalkeeper beaten and she made no errors. We are so lucky at Lyon to have two of the best left backs in D1 which can also play as left midfielders.

Above: Ellie Carpenter charges forward for Olympique Lyonnais against Reims in the French Cup last weekend. Photo: @OLFeminin

Bordeaux at home needed 30 minutes to really take the game on their own but qualified against Le Havre 5–0. Pedro Martinez Losa, the Bordeaux coach, made a few changes which probably explain the slow start of the team. Goals for Bordeaux by Khadija Shaw (37, 56), Katja Snoeijs (39, 42), Inès Jaurena (75). Khadija Shaw continues to score in each game she plays, and her statistics are impressive: 14 games (13 in D1), 19 goals (17 in D1).

Dijon, at home, created the big surprise of this qualifying round by winning against Paris FC after a penalty shoot-out. At the end of the game both teams had scored 1 goal (Linda Sällström 28 for Paris FC and Desire Oparanozie 67 for Dijon).

A summary of the penalty shoot-out: Gaëtane Thiney, Paris FC (0-1), Léa Declercq, Dijon (1-1), Théa Greboval, Paris FC (1-2), Rose Lavaud, Dijon (2-2), Anaig Butel, Paris FC (outside), Hélène Fercocq, Dijon (3-2), Tess Laplacette, Paris FC (stopped by the goalkeeper), Salma Amani, Dijon (4-2).

Paris St. Germain won 2–0 away from home at Fleury to progress without any problems. Olivier Echouafni, Paris SG coach, made a few changes leaving Kadidiatou Diani (came on as a substitute in the 76th minute) and Marie-Antoinette Katoto (entered at the 82nd minute) at rest for most of the game and not selecting at all Christiane Endler and Formiga for this game. Goals for Paris SG by Sara Däbritz (30 penalty) and Signe Bruun (52). The D1 Arkema league leaders continue on the road of French Cup final. Will we have a Paris SG – Lyon final again?

Guingamp, at home, win the game in the opening fourteen minutes to win 3–0 against Soyaux. No surprise and no suspense in this game. Goals for Guingamp by Romane Munich (7 own goal), Sarah Cambot (10), Alison Peniguel (14). Romane Munich, Soyaux goalkeeper, was not lucky in this game as she released the ball on the first goal and when Alison Peniguel took advantage of a misunderstanding between her and one of her defenders on the third goal.

Issy qualified by winning at home against Montpellier 2-1. Goals for Issy by Julie Machart-Rabanne (14), Salma Zemzem (95). Goals for Montpellier by Maëlle Lakrar (53). This is another surprise of this 16th round. Even if Montpellier did not play badly, they were not able to bother Issy who probably wanted more to win than them. Issy, who are battling against relegation in D1 Arkema being tenth with only 7 points having played one game more than bottom club, Le Havre, who have five points. They were able to defeat the 4th  placed side of D1 Arkema. Montpellier are on a dangerous slope as their last win was five games ago and they practically already lost the battle for the third place in D1 Arkema. Issy’s win ensures they have now gone further than ever before in the French Cup.

The View From France

Jean-Pierre Thiesset rounds up all the action from the thirteenth week of action in D1 Arkema, French women’s football’s top flight and updates us with all the transfer news around the division. (25/1/21)

Olympique Lyonnais won away from home 5–0 against Paris FC. With the return of Selma Bacha (one decisive pass and involved at the start of the move which was concluded with a wonderful goal from Amel Majri) and Nikita Parris (two goals and one decisive pass) as starters, Lyon did not leave any chance to Paris FC by scoring twice in the opening eleven minutes of the match.

Above: Selma Bacha who played an influential role in Olympique Lyonnais’ opening goal. Photo: Damien LG via @OLFeminin

Lyon finally found their dominant form again and produced a very good performance. The scorers were: Dezsnifer Marozsän (7), Nikita Parris (11, 66), Amel Majri (33) with a wonderful bicycle kick and Wendie Renard (73) with a left foot kick and not a header as usual.

Bordeaux consolidated third place in the table by winning 7-1 at Reims. Bordeaux dominated the match from the beginning to the end, completely suffocating Reims, which were never able to really worry their visitors despite scoring a goal at the end of the first half. Goals from Inès Jaurena (5), Khadija Shaw (10, 40, 66), Maëlle Garbino (17, 53), Claire Lavogez (76). Mélissa Gomes (45) reduced the score for Reims. Khadija Shaw’s two goals ensure she stays top of the goal scorers chart in D1 Arkema. She has now scored seventeen goals. Bordeaux are now six points ahead of Montpellier, who seems to have already lost the battle for the third place.

Dijon won 3–2 at home against Soyaux. Dijon’s scorers were Shnia Demetrice Gordan (45, 68), Léa Khelifi (85). Marie-Charlotte Léger (61 penalty) and Nina Stapelfeldt (66) scored for Soyaux. This is a good result for Dijon who continues to pull themselves away from the bottom of the table being now nine points ahead of third from bottom. It is not such good news for Soyaux. They have now not won since their victory at Le Havre on October 2nd, 2020, ten games ago. They have lost eight and drawn one in this period. Furthermore, Le Havre who are bottom, two points behind Soyaux have a game in hand on them as do Issy who are tied with them on seven points.

Paris St. Germain won 5-0 away to Guingamp. PSG are still league leaders, one point ahead of Lyon. By scoring very early in the game they shown to Guingamp how much they wanted to win. Goals from Sandy Baltimore (6), Marie-Antoinette Katoto (11, 56), Kadidiatou Diani (19) and Jordyn Huitema (85) earned the win. It seems that we will have to wait for the game between Olympique Lyon and Paris St. Germain to know who will win D1 Arkema this year.

The two other games both finished 0-0 draw – Montpellier at home against Fleury (with a red card for Montpellier’s Dominika Skorvankova after sixty-six minutes) and Le Havre at home against Issy.

The D1 ARKEMA table now looks like this:

 PWDLFAPtsGD
Paris St. Germain13121051237+ 49
Olympique Lyonnais13120148436+ 44
Bordeaux13823321426+ 18
Montpellier13625162020– 4
Fleury12543111619– 5
Paris FC13535212218– 1
Dijon12516152216– 7
Guingamp13517192216– 3
Reims13328173011– 13
Issy122198537– 45
Soyaux1321109297– 20
Le Havre1212910235– 13
Above: Nikita Parris in action against Paris FC at the weekend against whom she scored. Photo: Damien LG via @OLFeminin

Other news from Olympique Lyonnais team:

Newly arrived Lyon player Catarina Macario, made her debut for the USNWT in the weekend against Colombia. She put in an outstanding performance, scoring the first goal in the USA’s 6-0 win and was voted player of the match. We are so lucky to have her in Lyon and I cannot wait to see her play with OL team.

As expected last week, defensive midfielder Damaris Egurolla signed a three and a half year contract with the club which will start on January 20, 2021 and run until June 30, 2024.

According to Jean-Luc Vasseur, Lyon coach, there will be several other players coming to Lyon soon. Now we can say that Lyon is definitively busy in the transfer market this winter.

D1 ARKEMA January transfers:
TEAMSARRIVALSDEPARTURES
PARIS SGAminata Diallo (Utah Royals, USA, end of loan)Aminata Diallo (Atlético de Madrid, Spain, loan)
OLYMPIQUE LYONNAISCatarina Macario (Standford University, USA), Damaris Egurrola (Everton FC, England)Manon Revelli (Servette Chênois FC, Switzerland, loan)
BORDEAUXSvava Rós Guðmundsdóttir (Kristianstads DFF, Sweden), Malia Berkely (Florida State University, USA)Marine Perea (Soyaux, loan), Elena Linari (AS Roma, Italia)
MONTPELLIERNoneMarie-Charlotte Léger (Soyaux, loan)
FLEURYMichelle De Jongh (Vittsjö GIK, Sweden), Kamilla Karlsen (Bröndby IF, Denmark), Emmeline Mainguy (SSD Napoli, Italia)Laëtitia Philippe (GPSO Issy, loan)
SOYAUXMarie-Charlotte Léger (Montpellier, loan), Kelly Gadea (FC Sevilla, Spain), Marine Perea (Bordeaux, loan)None
LE HAVREAndrea Rán Snæfeld Hauksdóttir (Breidablik, Island, loan)None
ISSYLaëtitia Philippe (Fleury, loan)Ariana Mondiri (USA)

There have been no transfer activity so far for the other teams.

The View From France

With France’s D1 Arkema returning after its Christmas and New Year break, Jean-Pierre Thiesset is back to round up all the action from Round Twelve. (18/1/21)

Paris St Germain stayed top of the table by winning at home 1–0 against third place Bordeaux. They could have scored more goals as they dominated the match overall but had a few problems in turning the pressure into goals. Sara Däbritz (41) was the only scorer.

Above: Paris St. Germain celebrates Sara Däbritz’s match winner against Bordeaux. Photo: @PSG_Feminines

Olympique Lyonnais won at home 3–0 against Reims. The first half was not very good for Lyon with a lack of speed in midfield which did not allow them to score although they were dominating. Things got better in the second half especially after Wendie Renard, almost the best scorer for Lyon while being defender, was on target from a corner as usual. The scorers were: Wendie Renard (47, 64) and Amandine Henry (90+1).

Montpellier were not able to profit from Bordeaux’s defeat to close up on them as they lost 4–1 at Guingamp. The hosts’ goals came from Alison Peniguel (14), Margaux Le Mouël (43), Louise Fleury (56) and Faustine Robert (66). Lena Peterman (83) reduced the deficit for Montpellier.

Paris FC won 3–0 away from home at Soyaux. The goals came from Clara Matéo (51, 77) and Evelyne Viens (73). This is a very good result for Paris FC which closes the gap on Montpellier and Bordeaux to the extent that they could still have a chance for the third place in next season’s UEFA Women’s Champions League.

Above: Paris FC’s Clara Matéo – scorer of two goals in her side’s 3-0 win at Soyaux. Photo: lesfeminines.fr

Two games were cancelled due to snowstorm in Paris area: Issy v Dijon and Fleury v Le Havre. The table now looks like this:

 PWDLFAPtsGD
Paris St. Germain12111047234+ 45
Olympique Lyonnais12110143433+ 39
Bordeaux12723231323+ 12
Montpellier12615162019– 4
Paris FC12534211718+ 5
Fleury11533111618– 5
Guingamp12516191816+ 1
Dijon11416122013– 8
Reims12327162311– 7
Soyaux122197267– 19
Issy112098536– 45
Le Havre1111910234– 13

The news of the week is the arrival of midfielder Catarina Macario at Lyon on a two and half year deal. Catarina Cantanhede Melônio Macário (born October 4, 1999) is a Brazilian-born American. Macario was a decorated collegiate player in the United States. In 2017, she was named “Freshman of the Year” by the TopDrawerSoccer.com and ESPNW Player of the Year. In 2018, Macario won the Hermann Trophy, ESPNW Player of the Year, and the TopDrawerSoccer.com National Player of the Year Award.

Lyon are certainly busy in the transfer market this winter as defensive midfielder Damaris Egurolla will probably also sign for them soon. Damaris Berta Egurrola Wienke (born 26 August 1999) is currently at FA Women’s Super League side Everton. She started at Athletic Bilbao in 2015 and left for Everton in 2020. Despite being born in the USA, she made her senior debut for Spain in 2019.

It seems that Lyon is preparing for the departure of several players at the end of this season especially in their midfield by recruiting young midfielders.

The View From France

Jean-Pierre Thiesset rounds up the second leg from the French teams competing in the last 32 of UEFA Women’s Champions League.

OLYMPIQUE LYONNAIS 3-0 JUVENTUS

Olympique Lyonnais win 6-2 on aggregate.

Above: Melvine Malard celebrates her goal to seal Olympique Lyonnais’ progress into the last sixteen of the UEFA Women’s Champions League. Photo: Damien LG via @OLFeminin.

Before the game started, there was a tribute to Gérard Houiller who was part of the staff of Olympique Lyonnais since 2016. All our deep condolences go to his family.

Lyon won against Juventus (3-0) at home, finishing the job and qualifying for the next round. After a first quarter, things were a little bit difficult and Lyon had a few problems keeping the ball.

It was a combination of a bad clearance by the Juventus goalkeeper and a defender which allowed Dzsenifer Marozsan to open the scoring after 21 minutes.

After this goal, Lyon took the game to Juventus and dominated without being able to score more goals. At half time Lyon lead 1-0. Despite Lyon domination, we had to wait until the 88th minute for Melvine Malard to score the second goal after an unstoppable “one-two” with Marozsan. Janice Cayman entered in the game on the 72nd minute finished the job by scoring at 90+1 on a pass from Marozsan who was elected woman of the match. Jodie Taylor entered at the end of the game for her last match with Lyon; she goes back to USA as her contract with the club finishes on December 31st, 2020.

A special focus on Selma Bacha who played 92 minutes (she had played only 15 minutes at the end of the game in the first leg) and who did a pretty good game as a left back – 50 balls played: 37 passes (81% successful), 1 cross, 12 balls recovery; no errors.

Highlights of the game:

2nd: Yellow card for Saki Kumagai (Lyon)

12nd: Yellow card for Amandine Henry (Lyon)

21st: 1 – 0, Dzsenifer Marozsan (Lyon)

46th: Barbara Bonansea (Juventus) replaced Cristiana Girelli

58th: Maria Alves (Juventus) replaced Sara Gama

64th: Melvine Malard (Lyon) replaced Nikita Parris

72nd: Janice Cayman (Lyon) replaced Delphine Cascarino

73rd: Yellow card for Dzsenifer Marozsan (Lyon)

76th: Andrea Staskova (Juventus) replaced Lina Hurtig

77th: Annahita Zamanian (Juventus) replaced Aurora Galli

88th: 2 – 0, Melvine Malard (Lyon)

90th+1: 3 – 0, Janice Cayman (Lyon)

90th+2: Vicky Becho (Lyon) replaced Selma Bacha

90th+2: Sally Julini (Lyon) replaced Amel Majri

90th+2: Jodie Taylor (Lyon) replaced Dzsenifer Marozsan

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN 6-1 GORNIK LECZNA

Paris St. Germain win 8-1 on aggregate.

Above: Nadia Nadim celebrates after scoring PSG’s first goal this afternoonagainst Gornik Leczna. Photo: @PSGFeminines.

Paris St. Germain won easily at home against Gornik Leczna 6-1 to finish the job and qualify for the next round. By scoring three goals in the first 30 minutes, there was not a lot of suspense to guess which team would qualify at the end. At half time it was already 4-0 and according to how Paris St Germain dominated the game and the number of opportunities they add, it is a miracle that they did not score even more goals.

Highlights of the game:

21st: 1 – 0, Nadia Nadim (Paris)

24th: 2 – 0, Jordyn Huitema (Paris)

32nd: 3 – 0, Irene Parades (Paris)

43rd: 4 – 0, Marie-Antoinette Katoto (Paris)

46th: Roksana Ratajczyk (Leczna) replaced Jolanta Siwinska

51st: 5 – 0, Kadidiatou Diani (Paris)

57th: Yellow card for Roksana Ratajczyk (Leczna)

57th: Jade Le Guilly (Paris) replaced Ashley Elizabeth Lawrence

57th: Signe Brun (Paris) replaced Marie-Antoinette Katoto

57th: Lorina Fazer (Paris) replaced Sara Dabritz

62nd: 5 – 1, Ewelina Kamczyk (Leczna)

70th: Oceane Hurtre (Paris) replaced Nadia Nadim

71st: Ramona Bachmann (Paris) replaced Kadidiatou Diani

76th: Oliwia Rapacka (Leczna) replaced Patricia Hmirova

89th: 6 – 1, Irene Paredes (Paris)

The View From France

Jean-Pierre Thiesset rounds up all the action from the eleventh week of action in D1 Arkema, the top flight of French women’s football. (14/12/20)

Olympique Lyonnais raised their heads and won 9–0 against a very weak Issy side. At half time they were already seven goals ahead and the second half was a little bit less interesting. The scorers were: Amel Majri (9, 42, 52), Nikita Parris (15, 18, 21, 41), Janice Cayman (30) and Delphine Cascarino (72).

Above: Selma Bacha on the charge for Olympique Lyonnais in their 9-0 win over Issy. Photo: Damien LG via @OLFeminin

To prepare for their next game, the second leg of the UEFA Women’s Champions League last thirty-two tie against Juventus, several players were rested: Wendie Renard and Sakina Karchaoui (left out of the squad); Dzsenifer Marozsan (replaced by Melvine Malard 46), Ellie Carpenter (replaced by Delphine Cascarino 46) played only one half; Nikita Parris was replaced by Jodie Taylor (67).

In the battle for the third place, qualifying for UEFA Women’s Champions League, Bordeaux got ahead of the game by winning 2–0 (Khadija Shaw 8 and Katja Snoeijs 51) against their main challenger Montpellier. Bordeaux are now four points ahead of Montpellier; it is not finished but I think it will be difficult for Montpellier to take back third place.

Dijon were close to causing a big surprise at Paris FC but at the end they lost 3–2. Goals from Evelyne Viens (4, 56) and Clara Matéo (16) for Paris FC; Goals from Léa Khelifi (28) and Mylaine Tarrieu (80) for Dijon.

Fleury and Soyaux-Charente were not able to do better than a 0–0 draw and Guingamp won away from home at Reims 1–0 with a goal from Magou Doucouré (60).

Paris St Germain kept top spot by completely dominating the match and winning at home 5–0 against Le Havre, the bottom placed team in D1 Arkema. Goals from Marie-Antoinette Katoto (6, 33, 37, 67), Grace Geroyo (62).

Above: Marie-Antoinette Katoto celebrates one of her four goals for PSG against Le Havre which takes her to 103 goals for the club at the age of just 22. Photo: @PSG_Feminines.

Marie-Antoinette Katoto went over the 100 goal mark with Paris St Germain and is now at 103 goals; at only 22 years old, she was born on November 1st, 1998, it is quite a performance.

Later this week, Olympique Lyonnais, on Tuesday the 15th at 7:00 PM, and Paris St Germain, on Wednesday 16th at 2:30 PM, will play at home in UEFA Women’s Champions League last 32 second leg. There should be no surprises, and both teams should qualify.

D1 ARKEMA TABLE ROUND 11:

 PWDLFAPtsGD
Paris St. Germain11101046231+ 44
Olympique Lyonnais11100140430+ 36
Bordeaux11722231223+ 11
Montpellier11614151619– 1
Fleury ‘9111533111618– 5
Paris FC11434181715+ 1
Guingamp11416151713– 2
Dijon11416122013– 8
Stade Reims11326162011– 4
Soyaux-Charente112187237– 16
Issy112098536– 45
Le Havre1111910234– 13

The View From France

Jean-Pierre Thiesset rounds up the midweek action from the French teams competing in the UEFA Women’s Champions League. (11/12/20)

JUVENTUS v OLYMPIQUE LYONNAIS:

Lyon won away from home against Juventus (3-2) despite not being completely convincing. Juventus posed some problems to Lyon and led twice in the game (1 -0 then 2-1 at half time). Lyon came back towards the end of the match when Melvine Malard (a goal after 68 minutes and an assist on 88), Amandine Henry and Janice Cayman entered in the game on the 57th minute mark. After these replacements, fatigue looked to have impacted on the Juventus’ players and the Italian side started to be less dangerous and had more and more difficulties containing Lyon attacks. Selma Bacha made a big impact on the game after her entrance in the last quarter and Melvine Malard was elected player of the match.

Still, Lyon were far from their best in this game against a team who are only three years old. Is it the end of a cycle for Lyon after losing against Paris St. Germain and winning without panache against Juventus in the UEFA Women’s Champions League last thirty-two? The return game and the other rounds will tell us!

Above: Delphine Cascarino (left) in action for Olympique Lyonnais in Turin against Juventus in Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League Last 32 1st Leg. Photo: Damien LG via @OLFeminin.

Highlights of the game:

5th: Yellow card for Kadeisha Buchanan (Lyon)

16th: 1 – 0, Lina Hurtig (Juventus)

29th: Yellow card for Barbara Bonansea (Juventus)

30th: 1 – 1, Wendie Renard (Lyon) penalty; Bonansea fouled Sakina Karchaoui

37th: 2 – 1, Kadeisha Buchanan (Lyon) own goal.

44th: Yellow card for Arianna Caruso (Juventus)

57th: Melvine Malard replaced Nikita Parris

57th: Amandine Henry (Lyon) replaced Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir

57th: Janice Cayman (Lyon) replaced Delphine Cascarino

68th: 2 – 2, Melvine Malard (Lyon); first goal in UEFA Women’s Champions League

74th: Maria Alves (Juventus) replaced Barbara Bonansea

77th: Selma Bacha (Lyon) replaced Amel Majri

84th: Martina Rosucci (Juventus) replaced Lina Hurtig

87th: Jodie Taylor (Lyon) replaced Sakina Karchaoui

88th: 2 – 3, Saki Kumagai (Lyon); first assist of Melvine Malard in UWCL

GORNIK LECZNA v PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN:

Paris St. Germain won away from home against Gornik Leczna 2-0 in Poland. By scoring early in the game, just after the first quarter, PSG made the match easier. At half time, things were already looking pretty good for PSG with a 2-0 lead. In the first quarter of the second half, PSG had more opportunities to score (Jordyn Huitema 55, Sandy Baltimore 58 hit the post) but they were not able to add more goals to their total.

Above: Paris St. Germain’s Sandy Baltimore (right) gets away from Gornik Leczna’s Alicja Dygus in Wednesday’s UEFA Women’s Champions League tie. Photo: @PSG_Feminines.

Highlights of the game:

17th: 0 – 1, Jordyn Huitema (Paris)

25th: 0 – 2, Sandy Baltimore (Paris)

35th: Perle Moroni (Paris) out on injury; replaced by Jade Le Guilly (18 years old)

56th: Yellow card for Paulina Dudek (Paris)

61th: Roksana Ratajczyk (Leczna) replaced Jolanta Siwinska

75th: Hawa Sangaré (Paris) replaced Jordyn Huitema

83th: Océane Hurtre (Paris) replaced Kadidiatou Diani

83th : Laurina Fazer (Paris) replaced Sandy Baltimore

85th: Oliwia Rapacka (Leczna) replaced Patricia Hmirova

The View From France

Jean-Pierre Thiesset rounds up all the action for the tenth week of matches in France’s D1 Arkema. (7/12/20)

There were no great surprises in the tenth round of D1 Arkema matches, and no change in the standings.

Olympique Lyonnais won 3-1 at Le Havre but without reassuring their supporters. They scored three goals in the first eighteen minutes through Wendie Renard, Saki Kumagai and Amel Majri, but were not able to score again in the second half. Le Havre scored in the first half too due to a bad clearance by the Lyon defence and Sylia Koui scored. Ellie Carpenter, who was one of the players that did the job for Lyon as usual, was elected player of the game.

Above: Matildas star Ellie Carpenter was in fine form for Olympique Lyonnais on Saturday. Photo: @CarpenterEllie

Paris St. Germain won also, this time against city rivals Paris FC 4-1, keeping their first place in the table, a point ahead of Lyon. An own goal from Annaig Butel plus strikes from Marie-Antoinette Katoto, Sandy Baltimore and former Chelsea star Ramona Bachmann were the difference. Evelyne Viens got one back for Paris FC.

Elsewhere, Montpellier beat Issy 3-1 with goals from Dominika Skorvankova, Marija Banusic and Lena Petermann. Batcheba Louis scored for Issy. Bordeaux came from behind to see off Soyaux 2-1. Coralie Austry gave Soyaux a shock lead just before half time, but two goals from Khadija Shaw gave Bordeaux the points. Fleury won 1-0 at Guingamp thanks to Lea Le Garrec, formerly of Brighton & Hove Albion. Finally, Dijon drew 0-0 with Reims.

Next week Lyon and Paris SG will play away from their home in their UEFA Women’s Champion League Round of 32 ties. Lyon against Juventus in Turin, Italy. Paris St. Germain against Gornik Leczna in Leczna, Poland.

France Qualify for Euro 2022 but problems continue behind the scenes

It’s been a tough period for the French national side on and off the pitch with all sorts of issues being made public. However, as Jean-Pierre Thiesset writes, at least the team have finally made it to the European Championship finals even if the Corinne Diacre/Amandine Henry row rumbled on. (29/11/20)

During the last game of France team against Austria, Corrine Diacre took her captain Amandine Henry off of the pitch after one hour in the match. Even if Amandine Henry was not performing her best game, there was no reason to take her off so soon in this game. France was dominating the game and largely ahead of Austria. Furthermore, Corinne Diacre gave the captain’s armband to Charlotte Bilbault instead of giving it to an Olympique Lyonnais player. This sequence surprised everyone. Things became a little bit clearer yesterday when according to several media, and especially from RMC Sport, we learnt that the clash between Amandine Henry and Corinne Diacre was still going on and even not close to be solved.

Henry and Diacre had a hard exchange this Wednesday during a training session.

While the players were in a training session inside, Corinne Diacre entered the building and went directly towards Amandine Henry, her captain. “Don’t worry you will have your discussion”, is Corinne Diacre launching to Amandine Henry, according to RMC Sport information, referring of course to the public interview of Amandine Henry mid-November on Canal+.

Put on the substitute team since the beginning of the camp by the coach, Amandine Henry answers “I hope so. It would be nice to be able to discuss”. What Corinne Diacre retorts “In life, everything has to be paid for”. Amandine Henry answers “You threat me?

No answer from Corinne Diacre, the discussion stops there, and she went away as she came, in the middle of silent and stupefied players.

Now, to the actual match itself…

Even without several of its main players (Eugénie Le Sommer, Marion Torrent, Viviane Asseyi, Valérie Gauvin, Griedge MBock Bathy), France won against Austria (3-0) and have qualified for 2022 European Championship in England.

Above: The French team who played Austria on Friday night. Photo: @equipedefrance

Even if Austria is not amongst the best team in the world (in fact they are 22nd), the French team played a good game with a lot of creativity which could have led to more goals.

Once again, Sakina Karchaoui was one of the best players, not to say the best player in this game. Not only she did not stop the impact of the Austrian midfield and defence during all the game from the first minute to the last, but she came back to her defence position each time it was necessary.

Apart from Karchaoui, French players who put in outstanding performances were: Marie-Antoinette Katoto, with two goals; Wendie Renard, one goal and she secured the defence as usual; Delphine Cascarino on her right side, who put in a decisive pass for the second goal and Amel Majri on her left side and with the corners that she delivered perfectly from left and right sides.

Goals :

1-0 – Wendie Renard (11): corner from the left side by Amel Majri. Her left foot strike around the six yard box became a decisive pass for Wendie Renard who launched at the right time to catapult the ball under the crossbar.

Above: Wendie Renard heads France in front on Friday against Austria. Photo: @equipedefrance

2-0 – Marie-Antoinette Katoto (27): Eve Périsset on the right side, slide the ball back to Delphine Cascarino, who played in a perfect centre at the penalty spot to Marie-Antoinette Katoto. She rose higher than the defence to score with an unstoppable header.

3-0 – Marie-Antoinette Katoto (73): corner from the right side by Amel Majri who looked for Clara Matéo at the near post. Clara, on her France team debut, touched the ball and Marie-Antoinette Katoto just needed to push the ball inside the net at the far post.

France’s next game will be against Kazakhstan on December 1st. Even if the result will not change anything on the current standings, we would like to see a French team that finishes this qualification round with an avalanche of goals and have the opportunity to see a few players that have not played a lot since the beginning of the competition.

Teams:

FRANCE: Pauline Peyraud-Magnin (GK), Wendie Renard, Eve Périsset, Elisa De Almeida, Sakina Karchaoui, Grace Geroyo, Charlotte Bilbault, Amandine Henry (C), Delphine Cascarino, Marie-Antoinette Katoto, Amel Majri. Substitutes: Kenza Dali 60 (for Amandine Henry), Clara Matéo 72 (for Delphine Cascarino), Emelyne Laurent 84 (for Marie-Antoinette Katoto).

AUSTRIA: Manuela Zinsberger (GK), Laura Wienrother, Carina Wenninger (C), Viriginia Kirchberger, Verena Aschauer, Sarah Zadrazil, Sarah Puntigam, Jasmin Eder, Barbara Dunst, Nicole Billa, Stefanie Enzinger. Viktoria Pinther 46 (for Nicole Billa), Katharina Naschwengen 61 (for Verena Aschauer), Laura Feiersinger 61 (for Stefanie Enzinger), Lisa Kolb 75 (for Barbara Dunst), Yvonne Weilharter 90 + 1 (for Laura Wienrother).

Yellow cards: Amel Majri (90 + 2) for France; Stefanie Enzinger (42) for Austria.

Referee: Esther Staubli (Switzerland).

Above: France celebrate qualification for the 2022 European Championships. Photo: @equipedefrance

The View From France

Jean-Pierre Thiesset rounds up all the action in Week Nine of the French top flight of women’s football, the D1 Arkema. (24/11/20)

The main headline of the weekend came with Olympique Lyonnais‘ defeat at Paris St. Germain (for our report of the game, click here: https://impetus885775742.wordpress.com/2020/11/20/battle-of-the-big-guns-goes-psgs-way/).

Not only did Lyon lose first place to PSG, their biggest rivals for the title, but they produced a performance that was disturbing for their supporters, leaving a lot of questions for the future.

Montpellier stopped their losing run with a 3-1 win over Le Havre, the bottom placed side in D1 Arkema. Bordeaux won 1-0 at Paris FC to remain third ahead of Montpellier in the table.

Guingamp recorded their third win of the season and heaped more woe on Issy‘s dreadful goal difference as a result of their 6-1 win.

The other games saw a 2-0 win for Fleury over Dijon and Stade de Reims won 2-1 at Soyeux.

So, these results mean that suspense is revived for the D1 Arkema championship title as well as the race for third place.

The next round will take place on the weekend of the 5th December.

The latest table:

 PWDLFAPts
Paris St. Germain981037125
Olympique Lyonnais980128324
Bordeaux9522211117
Montpellier9513121316
Fleury ‘919423101614
Paris FC9333141112
Dijon9405101712
Guingamp9315141610
Stade Reims9315161910
Issy FF92077416
Soyaux92076216
Le Havre91179154

Find out more about our contributor Jean-Pierre Thiesset here: About our Contributors (wordpress.com)

The View From France

Last night saw Paris St. Germain bring to an end Olympique Lyonnais’ four year unbeaten run in D1 and potentially cause a major change in the destination of the French title for the first time in fifteen years. Jean-Pierre Thiesset gives his opinion on the big game. (21/11/20)

Last night, Lyon lost 1-0 to Paris St. Germain – a result which ends a run of 80 games without loss in the D1 championships (for our report on the game, click here: https://impetus885775742.wordpress.com/2020/11/20/battle-of-the-big-guns-goes-psgs-way/)

Some will say that it can happen, but when we see how Lyon lost, it is a little disturbing. The team was not in the game and there had been too many errors and too many duels that were lost. In my opinion, apart from Delphine Cascarino, Ellie Carpenter and Sakina Karchaoui, who tried to play and do something, all the other players were way under their usual performance levels.

I remember discussion with a few OL fans about the level of their midfielders a few months ago, saying that they were not back to their usual performances and that this would penalize the team; they may have been right.

Furthermore, Lyon lost Eugénie Le Sommer with injury, a tear on the inside of the left thigh that will probably keep her out of action for a few weeks and prevent her playing with the France national team at the end of November. If you add to this Valérie Gauvin who is already out after injury for Everton in the Women’s FA Cup Final and Marie-Antoinette Katoto, from PSG, who is also injured and may not be available, the France team will probably have to play against Austria without a recognised central striker.

Is it the beginning of the end of the huge domination of Lyon in French women’s football? The future will tell us and especially the return game against PSG next year and the Women’s UEFA Champion League games that will soon be on their schedule.

Battle of the Big Guns Goes PSG’s Way

Paris St. Germain 1–0 Olympique Lyonnais (20/11/20)

by Ben Gilby

Paris St. Germain stuck a symbolic blow in the D1 Arkema title race with a deserved victory over perennial top of the table rivals Olympique Lyonnais at the Parc des Princes – a result which condemned the visitors to their first league defeat in four years.

The early exchanges were typically cagey in such a vital game. It was OL who had the best of the possession and pressed PSG back in this period.

Indeed, it was Lyon who forced the opening corner after just four minutes when Saki Kumagai crossed in, Le Sommer dummied and PSG diverted the ball over the bar. It all came to naught as home goalkeeper Christiane Endler was adjudged to have been fouled from the corner.

Then, with just eleven minutes played, PSG hit the lead. The visitors lost possession on the right wing and away went Kadidiatou Diani. She slid a pass into Marie Antoinette Katoto who raced towards the onrushing Sarah Bouhaddi. The Lyon keeper committed herself early and Katoto rounded her and ensured that Kadeisha Buchanan couldn’t scramble back to stop her and rolled the ball into the net from an acute angle.

Above: Marie Antoinette Katoto guides her effort towards the Lyon net for the only goal of the game. Photo: @PSG_Feminines

Three minutes later, Kumagai gave away a free-kick on the edge of the box in a central position. Sara Dabritz stepped up, but her effort landed on the roof on the net.

Shortly afterwards, Eugenie Le Sommer got away and was tugged back by Ashley Lawrence whilst closing in on goal to the left of centre. Up stepped Dzsenifer Marozsan to rifle in an effort on target which Endler had to fist away.

Unsurprisingly, the Parisians were buoyed by the goal and the balance of play shifted into their favour. Dabritz’s dangerous ball in was calmly cleared by Ellie Carpenter, but it returned to the area quickly as Buchanan combined with Katoto before moving play onto Luana and Diani. PSG kept the possession and built slowly as they patiently looked for the right moment to launch an incisive pass and it came from Lawrence’s cross – unfortunately, Katoto couldn’t make the right contact with her attempted volley and Bouhaddi gathered.

Katoto was then played in Diani, but Australian international Carpenter got back brilliantly to deny her with a magnificent tackle. Just before the half-hour mark, Lyon’s early woes increased when key player Eugenie Le Sommer went down off the ball with what appeared at the time to be a hamstring injury and she was replaced by Lionesses star Nikita Parris.

Lyon rallied and an outstanding piece of skill by Sakina Karchaoui down the left saw the ball played in to the box but PSG cleared.

With four minutes to go until the break, Luana found Sandy Baltimore who teased her way past Carpenter and won a corner off of Buchanan, but the visitors survived.

Above: Olympique Lyonnais’ Ellie Carpenter tussles for possession in the Parc des Princes. Photo: @PSG_Feminines

Such was PSG’s control after the goal, they may well have been disappointed not to add a second before the break as history tells you that OL always seem to find a way to force themselves back into a game. The hosts had controlled the dangerous pair of Karchaoui and Cascarino well and had the better of the all-important midfield battle. A continuation of these circumstances would go a long way to earning PSG a hugely important and symbolic victory.

There was noticeably more energy about Olympique Lyonnais immediately after the interval. They fashioned an early opportunity when Sara Dabritz miscued to allow Amandine Henry to gather possession. The France skipper found Delphine Cascarino whose close control brought her into the area but was muscled out by Grace Geyoro before getting a shot in.

On the hour mark, Diani was pulled back by Amandine Henry on the right. Dabritz’s free kick was cleared by Renard, and on the counter attack, Nikita Parris sprinted away with plenty of support but back came Perle Morroni to put in an outstanding tackle.

All the signs were that PSG had weathered the early chances that Lyon had made. On sixty-five minutes, Diani’s cross field ball found Katoto who eased past Carpenter to put in a cross which Bouhaddi grabbed at the near post.

Cascarino won a throw near the corner flag and the hosts made a series of blunders in trying to clear, but Lyon were not able to make PSG pay for their less than sound defensive play.

With seventy-two minutes gone, Wendie Renard hacked down Marie-Antoinette Katoto on the left hand side just outside of the box and was lucky to only receive a yellow card. From the resulting free-kick, substitute Alana Cook’s header was poor and Bouhaddi gathered comfortably.

Katoto didn’t recover from the foul on her by Renard and she was replaced by Signe Bruun within minutes.

With twelve minutes left, Karchaoui found Parris who in turn played a pass inside to Marozsan, but the German’s shot was way off target for the visitors.

With three minutes to go, substitute Melvine Malard raced into the box but a superb challenge from Irene Paredes closed down the danger and Formiga put the ball out for a corner, which the home side defended successfully and they went on to see out the remainder of the game to record an excellent victory.

Above: Alana Cook and Saki Kumagai contest possession deep into the second half. Photo: @PSG_Feminines

Whilst this win does not decide anything this season, the defeat of a team who has won fourteen consecutive league titles by a side who have been trying to snap at their heels for many years means that the D1 Arkema title race now takes on a fascinating twist. OL know they have no margin for error now. If this was seen as a big game, the return in the New Year at the Groupama Stadium will be absolutely monumental.

Teams: PARIS ST. GERMAIN: Endler, Morroni, Dudek, Paredes, Lawrence, Dabritz, Luana, Geyoro, Baltimore, Katoto, Diani. Substitutes: Voll (GK), Cook (for Dudek), Formiga (for Luana), Bachmann, Bruun (for Katoto), Huitema, Nadim.

Scorers: Katoto 11.

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

Referee: Maika Vanderstichel.

The View From France

Jean-Pierre Thiesset gives us news of the announcement of France’s squad for the upcoming final qualifiers for the Women’s European Championships. With qualification still in doubt and all sorts of behind the scenes conflicts, there were many eyes on Corinne Diacre’s selection this time round. (20/11/20)

Corinne Diacre has announced her list of players for the next two games for France’s national team. During her introduction to the announcement, she tried to minimize the current situation (relating to the behind the scenes conflicts with players) and was rather calm and said that the most important thing was to win the next games to ensure the qualification of the French team for the European Championships in England. She did not want to talk about the current problems and said that she will not use media to answer these matters.

The selection is without big surprises:

GOALKEEPERS: Durand, Munich, Peyraud-Magnin

DEFENDERS: E. Cascarino, De Almeida, Karchaoui, Morroni, Perisset, Renard, Torrent, Tounkara.

MIDFIELDERS: Bilbaut, Clemaron, Dali, Geyoro, Henry, Majri.

FORWARDS: Asseyi, D. Cascarino, Diani, Katoto, Laurent, Le Sommer.

Despite her television interview at the weekend (see: https://impetus885775742.wordpress.com/2020/11/17/the-view-from-france-5/ ), Amandine Henry is back in the team and Diacre said during the press conference that she will captain the French team. Amel Majri, who had spoken a little bit in support of Henry, is also in the squad.

Sarah Bouhaddi, who had said the day before the squad announcement that she would accept selection, is not named; Corinne Diacre said that she learnt the previous night of Bouhaddi’s opinion and said and that so far Pauline Peyraud-Magnin did the job during the last two games.

Now, we just need to wait for November 27, 2020, the important match against Austria, to know who will be on the field as starters. Personally, I think that there will be most of the Lyonnaises and Parisiennes players on the field.

I expect the following starting team:

Goalkeeper: Peyraud-Magnin.

Defenders: Renard, Karchaoui, Torrent, Tounkara.

Midfielders: Henry (Captain), Majri, Diani.

Strikers: Le Sommer, Cascarino D., Katoto

I think that with this team, France should easily win against Austria and I will produce a review on 28th of November to celebrate my insights or to discuss why I was wrong!

The View From France

Just a couple of weeks after France’s national team goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi went public with her disagreements with France coach Corinne Diacre, Jean-Pierre Thiesset describes another incendiary TV interview, this time given by France’s captain Amandine Henry on Sunday where more of the problems inside the French camp came to light. (17/11/20)

During her interview given to “Canal Football Club” on Sunday, Amandine Henry, the France team captain, spoke bluntly about her relations with Corinne Diacre, France’s team coach and spoke out about the problems inside the team.

Above: Amandine Henry, captain of the French national side. Photo: Jean-Pierre Thiesset.

The following is a translation of a part of her interview without any change.

About her non-selection for the last France national matches:

“When she (Corinne Diacre) called me, I said to myself, ‘the coach made choices, it is normal’. The call lasted 15 seconds, I will remember it all my life. Instantly, I was shocked. I was speechless.”

“This discussion hurts me; it will stay engraved in my heart. I was feeling very well. I went to my coaches, they told me I was playing well. I questioned myself. I could have accepted it, but it was beyond a sporting (performance) matter.”

About the problems in the French team:

“There are a lot of problems. As captain, it is important to wear the armband. But when it is necessary to speak up and put your fist on the table, you have to do it also.”

“I would rather think that I never react in a hot manner. I was shocked (by being dropped). I was obliged to question myself. It is the qualifications for the European Championships. I should not be selfish, the group have to stay concentrated.”

“After the World Cup, the coach wanted to do individual interviews. The World Cup was hard. There were girls that cried in their room. It happened to me that I cried in my room. It was the atmosphere, the management, the global ambiance which was there that was wrong. Trust is the basis of any relationship.”

Above: Amandine Henry in action for Olympique Lyonnais. Photo: Jean-Pierre Thiesset.

About the future:

“I would like to think that we can put everything on and win the Euros. With the qualities that we have, France must win a title. We have a golden generation. I know that I have taken a risk, but I can’t look at myself in the mirror (if I don’t say this). If I do not say it, who will?”

In two days time – this Thursday, Corinne Diacre is due to announce her list of players for France’s next European Championship qualification matches. We will see if Amandine Henry is sanctioned for speaking up against the head coach. 

The View From France

Jean-Pierre Thiesset returns with his regular column bringing us all the news from the Women’s game in France. This week he rounds up all the action from Week Eight of the D1 Arkema season. (15/11/20)

This D1 Arkema round came up with a few surprises.

Firstly, Dijon’s 1-0 win over Montpellier, and Guingamp obtaining a 1-1 draw against Paris FC. Bordeaux’s 2-0 win over Le Havre and Fleury’s 2-1 win at Reims. Olympique Lyonnais won 5-1 against Soyaux which is not a surprise. Equally, Paris St. Germain’s win over Issy is not a surprise, but the score line was an incredible 14-0!

Montpellier was not able to stop losing after their game at Lyon last round and the consequence now is that Dijon are now only two points from third place and Bordeaux are back in the game and move up one place to third in front of Montpellier fall one place.

Bordeaux are already eight points behind second placed PSG and it seems that like in a lot of seasons before this one, the title will be once again played between Lyon and PSG.

In this context, the match between PSG and Lyon game next week in the “Parc des Prince” in Paris will be the most important of the season for PSG. If Lyon win at Paris, they will be five points ahead of PSG and the D1 Arkema championships will have no more suspense for the first place. This game will be played on Friday 20 November 2020 at 9:00 PM.

So, as an OL fan, I hope that Lyon win and secure the first place to fly towards a 15th consecutive title, but as a football fan I have to say that if PSG win it will keep more suspense and the rest of the championships season will be more interesting even if I would prefer the former result.

Another interesting game will be Paris FC against Bordeaux which will take place on Sunday 22 November 2020 in Paris. Bordeaux being only 2 points ahead of Paris.

See you next week for the results …

Relentless Lyon March On

Olympique Lyonnais 5–1 ASJ Soyaux-Charente (13/11/20)

by Ben Gilby     

Olympique Lyonnais won their eighth successive game in D1 Arkema this season with a relentless attacking performance that yielded a 5-1 victory over strugglers ASJ Soyaux-Charente at the Groupama Training Centre tonight.

Soyaux came into the game after a week of upheaval with both the club president and head coach leaving. A new temporary head coach, Laurent Mortel, was drafted in on Monday. Currently also the head coach of Haiti Women and previously coach of Montpellier Women, he will be looking to improve on the club’s opening run of only two wins from their opening eight league games.

Lyon’s first choice goalkeeper, Sarah Bouhaddi was absent for the game with Lola Gallardo taking her place between the sticks.

Olympique Lyonnais were in control from the start. The first shot in anger was fired after nine minutes when a trademark mazy run from Sakina Karchaoui up the left saw two defenders beaten and her ball found Nikita Parris. The England international’s ball was deflected back to Cascarino who found Sarah Bjork Gunnarsdottir, but the Icelander’s weak effort was pounced on by Romaine Munich in the Soyaux goal.

With the visitors, who had only scored four goals all season coming into the game, failing to get out of their own half, Lyon had to remain patient in attempting to find the right pass to break through the massed ranks of blue shirts. Cathy Couturier and Viviane Boudard were working particularly hard in trying to stem the flow of Ellie Carpenter and Delphine Cascarino down the right hand side.

In the end it took 21 minutes for OL to get on the scoresheet. Karchaoui combined with Amadine Henry on the left with the former receiving the ball back. Her cross into the six yard box beat the entire Soyaux defence leaving Dzsenifer Marozsan in acres of space to score with ease.

Four minutes later, Nikita Parris was brought down centrally on the edge of the area by Couturier. The resulting free-kick by Karchaoui curled round the wall and was pushed out for a corner by Munich. From the resulting set-piece, Karchaoui was tripped with her back to goal by Laura Bourgouin. Up stepped Wendie Renard to take the penalty, but her effort was saved by Munich, but unfortunately for the Soyaux keeper, it deflected straight into Renard’s path and she didn’t miss the second chance.

Just after the half hour mark, Eugenie Le Sommer won a free kick which Amadine Henry floated in. Soyaux’s Canadian defender Paige Culver’s attempted clearance turned into an air-shot, with the ball subsequently falling to Marozsan on the left, but the German international’s effort narrowly missed.

OL refused to take their foot off the pedal and a glorious move with ten minutes of the half left almost produced a third goal. Cascarino found Marozsan who in turn played in Carpenter. The Australian international’s pin point ball found Le Sommer, but Munich made a good save.

Two minutes before the break, the third goal arrived. Some outstanding pace and power allied with great footwork down the right by Cascarino saw her put in a perfect cross for Parris to head home.

Parris had another chance in first half stoppage time, but her header hit the side netting. It was one way traffic and the scary thing for Soyaux was that it was self-evident that if Lyon kept the pace and pressing at the same rate in the second period, the visitors could be on the receiving end of an absolute shellacking.

The second half started in a familiar fashion with the home side mounting continuous pressure. A free kick on fifty-two minutes by Dzsenifer Marozsan from the left found its way back to Saki Kumagai, on as sub, but the Japanese international blasted an effort over the bar.

A rare sortie forward by Soyaux saw Alice Benoit brought down by Wendie Renard on the right. Laura Bourgouin’s free-kick caused huge problems for Lola Gallardo in the Lyon goal as the ball curled in high. She couldn’t decide whether to catch it or palm the ball away. In the end she didn’t really do either and the ball bounced off of her fingers onto the bar and Rachel Avant headed it over the line for Soyaux’s first goal in four matches and only the second Lyon have conceded all season.

With sixty-two minutes on the clock, Dzenifer Marozsan played a perfect pass into the stride of Nikita Parris on the left hand side of the eighteen yard box. The England international took a touch and comfortably side-footed it into the net for her second and OL’s fourth.

With twenty minutes left, Dumont’s attempted rugby tackle on Sakina Karchaoui earned Lyon a free-kick on the left wing. Marozsan’s delivery was whipped in with pace towards the towering Wendie Renard, but her glancing header went just wide.

Three minutes later, substitute Cayman, on for Ellie Carpenter, found Eugenie Le Sommer. The cross found Parris, braced for the hat-trick, but her effort flew away from the target.

With just over ten minutes left, the home side’s dominance was rewarded with a fifth goal. Marozsan’s free kick was headed across goal by Renard for her fellow central defender Kadeisha Buchanan to nod home.

Romane Munich produced an outstanding save with four minutes left to deny Amadine Henry as OL pressed once more

ASJ Soyaux Charente’s efforts and sheer hard work was rewarded by Rachel Avant’s goal. Their season will come down to results in the games against the teams around them at the bottom rather than when they take on the big guns. For Olympique Lyonnais, this was, in the end a routine victory ahead of next Friday night’s mouth-watering showdown with Paris St.Germain.

Teams: OLYMPIQUE LYONNAIS: Gallardo, Carpenter, Buchanan, Renard, Karchaoui, Cascarino, Henry, Marozsan, Gunnarsdottir, Le Sommer, Parris. Substitutes: Talaslahti (GK), Cayman, Maoulida, Sombath, Kumagai, Malard, Taylor.

Scorers: Marozsan 21. Renard 27. Parris 43, 62. Buchanan 79.

ASJ SOYAUX-CHARENTE: Munich, Boudaud, Couturier, Culver, Dumont, Stapelfeldt, Benoit, Bourgouin, Tandia, Avant, Cazeau. Substitutes used: Roux, Austry, Surpris.

Scorers: Avant 55.

The View From France

Jean-Pierre Thiesset provides us with a fascinating insight into what a typical matchday is like at Olympique Lyonnais – Europe’s top women’s club – and the incredible access that supporters of the team get to some of the world’s greatest players. (7/11/20)

The last game played at Groupama OL Training Center before France’s covid restrictions were changed was on October 16, 2020 against EA Guingamp. At the moment all games will now be behind closed doors.

As usual, this involved the club’s supporters arriving about an hour in advance to meet our OL (Olympique Lyonnais) Ang’Elles friends around their stand of goodies – amongst them the OL Ang’Elles scarf to show our colours.

OL Ang’Elles fan group was been created in 2011 by Isabelle Bernard and was the first women’s football fan group in France. It counted almost 300 members last season. This group supports the OL players in Lyon and all over Europe in the UEFA Champions League with their uninterrupted songs during the game. They have OL Ang’Elles and Olympique Lyonnais flags and streamers but also all the flags from the country of the foreign OL team players.

Above: Matchday atmosphere at the Groupama Training Centre for a OL Feminin game. Photo: Jean-Pierre Thiesset.

From time to time LYOU, the Olympique Lyonnais mascot join us to support our players. There is also another smaller fan club “Kop Fenottes” which supports OL Women team.

Most of home games take place at the Groupama OL Training Center. Only the big games, like the one against Paris St. Germain or UEFA Champions League semi-finals take place in the Groupama Stadium; the big stadium where more than 25 000 spectators gathered for the last OL Feminin – PSG game in 2019.

Let’s try to know a little bit more the team that these fans support, and which dominates French and European football. Olympique Lyonnais Women section was created in 2004 by the acquisition of the FC Lyon Women team (1970-2004). Their Nickname is “Les Fenottes”.

OL’s women’s team has a lot of records and their honours is very impressive:

7 UEFA Champion League (2011, 2012, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020)

14 consecutive French Championship titles from 2007 to 2020

9 French Cups (2008, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020)

1 French Champions’ Trophy: 2019

4 other titles in different International Competitions

Elected 6 times Best Team in the World by International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS): 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019

Above: Trophies won by OL Feminin during 2019/20 including French D1 and the UEFA Champions League. Photo: Jean-Pierre Thiesset.

Main Current Staff consist of President: Jean-Michel Aulas, Manager: Olivier Blanc, Coach: Jean-Luc Vasseur, Assistant coach: Michel Sorin, Assistant coach: Camille Abily, Goalkeeper coach: Christophe Gardiè and Fitness Trainer: Romain Segui.

Before the game starts, teams are presented to the 1,500 spectators in the stands and everyone spells out loudly the name of the players when they appear on the big screen in one corner of the stadium.

Then the players arrive on the field for the team photo. During this Covid19 period it looks a little different. Here is the photo taken on October 16:

Above: OL Feminin line up for their last home game against EA Guingamp on 16th October. Photo: Jean-Pierre Thiesset.

Jean-Luc Vasseur has a roster of 29 players to choose to make his team of the day. A list of players which includes stars such as Sarah Bouhaddi, Wendie Renard, Ellie Carpenter, Sakina Karchaoui, Amel Majri, Dzsenifer Marozsan, Eugenie Le Sommer, Ada Hegerberg, Nikita Parris and Delphine Cascarino.

OL fans know the players very well because, usually, OL Ang’Elles and other supporters can meet all the players during one open training session almost every week. I said usually because right now with the Covid19 restrictions, no training sessions are open to the public. The relationship between players and supporters are particularly good. During the training sessions, supporters are within one metre of the field and can admire their preferred players and take any photos they want. At the end of the training session, players come to meet the supporters, talk with them, sign photos and other items and take the usual selfies with the fans. OL Feminin players and fans are like a big family and it is great to live with them like that!

Above: OL Feminin players celebrate with their fans earlier this season. Photo: Jean-Pierre Thiesset.

At the end of every game, players come to thank the supporters and especially the fan groups. The supporters then go home with a lot of memories of the game and our preferred players.

Latest news: OL Feminin won 5-0 away from home to third placed Montpellier last Saturday and are still unbeaten in D1 with seven consecutive wins.

The View From France

In an exclusive piece, Jean-Pierre Thiesset brings us news of an interview given by goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi which lifts the lid on just how troubled the situation is within the French Women’s National side. (31/10/20)

Sarah Bouhaddi, Olympique Lyonnais and French national team goalkeeper had some very blunt words to say about Corinne Diacre, national women’s coach during an interview on OL TV’s Barth Ruzza Talk Show.

First let’s recall who Sarah Bouhaddi is to understand why what she says is important:

Sarah was born on October 17, 1986 in Cannes, France. She has played in more than 400 club matches, including 280 games with Olympique Lyonnais since 2009. Additionally, she has played more than a hundred games with the French national side.

The list of honours won by Bouhaddi is very impressive: 11 French Championships (from 2010 to 2020), 7 UEFA Women’s Champion League titles, 8 French Cups (2012 to 2017 and 2019 & 2020), 1 Champions trophy – game between French Championship and Cup winners (2019). She was also elected Best World Goalkeeper by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and UEFA Best Goalkeeper in 2020.

Above: Sarah Bouhaddi, Olympique Lyonnais and France goalkeeper has had plenty to say about national coach Corinne Diacre. Photo: Jean-Pierre Thiesset.

Just a few days ago, Bouhaddi gave an interview to Barth Ruzza on Olympique Lyonnais’ own club television station. Here is an extract of the 30 minutes interview – this is a direct translation with nothing changed or added:

Barth Ruzza (BR): You decided to take a step back regarding France team, If you had a message to send, something to tell, or a question to ask to Corinne Diacre (the French women’s national head coach), what it would be?

Sarah Bouhaddi (SB): I have no message to send her, I think she is old enough and responsible enough today to know what she is doing, now the question is to know if she really wants to win a title with the France team; we are several Lyonnaise players and several players of high level, and included Paris players too, which want to do something great with the France team and I realize that we may not be all in the same project or the same speech and this is what saddens me today.

BR: Did you discuss with her in a frank manner?

SB: Yes, but our relations have never been very strong and very beautiful during the period before the World Cup. After the World Cup it is has been difficult for me and several of my team-mates, we have undergone several examinations very negative in the France team.

BR: What do you mean?

SB: There has been a bad result in the World Cup for us and they reproach us saying we wanted Corinne Diacre fired, although we never said that. After that, Corinne Diacre took against us – me and Amadine Henry, and after the World Cup we lived in a scenario very difficult during the training camps and it is for that reason that I took a step back from the national team at my age. I felt I was strong enough psychologically and ready to make a break with the France team because there is no relationship with the coach. I told her when I called her that as long as she has no confidence in me and that there was no relationship between her and me, there was no reason to continue to work together.

BR: Do, at times, you regret taking this decision?

SB: I do not regret because I lived very badly there (in the national camp)…I do not regret because today, winning a title with this coach seems impossible to me…a lot of other players think the same, but do not say it.

BR: So, for you it will not work, it is impossible?

SB: It will not work. I could say that the France team will not win the Euros with Corinne Diacre as a coach. Today, we are in a situation which is too negative. If Corinne Diacre evolves in the next two years, it is possible, but there is so much to change…

The View From France

We welcome new writer Jean-Pierre Thiesset who will provide us with regular news from all the goings on in French women’s football. He begins by giving us the lowdown on the French First Division and then tells us about the background to a frustrating game against Austria for the national side earlier this week. (29/10/20)

The French Women’s Football First Division is called “D1 Arkema” (D1 for Division One and Arkema being the sponsor). There are twelve clubs in D1 – ASJ Soyaux Charente, Dijon FCO, EA Guingamp, FC Fleury, Girondins Bordeaux, GPSO ’92 Issy, Le Havre AC, Montpellier HSC, Olympique Lyonnais, Paris FC and Paris St. Germain.

Above: The location of France’s D1 sides.

The D1 is governed by the FFF (Fédération Française de Football – French Football Federation). The D1 is not a professional league but a few clubs are professional.

Olympique Lyonnais dominates the D1 and only Paris St. Germain can compete with them so far. In recent years, Bordeaux and Montpellier started to close on these two teams but are still a little bit behind.

Olympique Lyonnais and Paris St. Germain players make up the main backbone of the French national team even if more and more new players from the other teams are starting to be included in the French national team.

Foreign players are represented in the D1 Championships and among them several players from England with Olympique Lyonnais fielding stars like Nikita Parris and Jodie Taylor this year or Jessica Fishlock, Lucy Bronze, Alex Greenwood and Izzy Christiansen in previous years.

Meanwhile…

The French national team is still not qualified for the European Championship which will take place in England in 2022. Let’s go back a few days to try to understand why.

Group G Standings before Tuesday game against Austria were:

1st – France – 15 points in 5 games – Goal difference 28

2nd – Austria – 15 points in 5 games – Goal difference 21

Seeing this standing, we can easily understand that the Tuesday game was important for both teams. Normally, France (3rd team in the rankings) would be supposed to beat Austria (22nd in the rankings) but with the tensions around French team right now between French coach Corinne Diare and a few Olympique Lyonnais players, surprises were possible.

Sarah Bouhaddi long time holder of the goalkeeping position without any doubt so far, decided not to go to join the team after problems between her and Diacre. Furthermore, Amandine Henry, the actual captain of the French team was not selected by Corinne Diacre. The explanation was that Henry needed to rest to retrieve all her potential.

However, without Bouhaddi, Henry and other main stars of the side such as Wendie Renard, Amel Majri and Marion Torrent, France still won 11-0 against the modest North Macedonia team with the following team:

Four goals from Eugenie Le Sommer, two from Grace Geyoro, plus strikes from Valerie Gauvin, Elisa de Almeida, Kadidiatou Diani, Viviane Asseyi and Delphine Cascarino completed the rout.

Young players stepped up and shown that they could do the job. Eugénie Le Sommer’s four goals now sees her with a total of 86 goals with the French team.

For the big game against Austria, Wendie Renard and Marion Torrent were back in the team at the start of the game against Austria. Yet, strangely star players Delphine Cascarino, Amel Majri and Marie-Antoinette Katoto were not. The result was a 0–0 draw.

So, France have still not qualified for the European Championships and will have to win against Austria in France in November. Some people put the blame on Corinne Diacre the French Coach, arguing that her selection and the way she manages the team is the sole reason for the result against Austria this week.

Above: France’s Olympique Lyonnais star Delphine Cascarino in action against Austria earlier this week. Photo via: @delphsix

For me, I believe that nothing is black or white but grey, meaning that there is more than one reason for such problems, and based on what we saw during and since World Cup in France, I would say that our team and our players may not be as strong as some people say.

I hope that the future will prove me wrong and that we will win in 2022 in England.

Jean-Pierre’s biog details can be found on our page about all our writers here: https://impetus885775742.wordpress.com/about-our-contributors/

A Magnificent Seventh For Lyon

VfL Wolfsburg 1-3 Olympique Lyonnais (31/8/20)

By Ben Gilby

Above: Olympique Lyonnais celebrate their Champions League success. Photo: @OLfeminin

Lyon won their fifth UEFA Women’s Champions League in a row and seventh from the last ten finals after victory in a high quality final against Wolfsburg in San Sebastian.

The final was settled by a goal from Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir, who, with great irony had actually played more games for the German side in this elongated season’s competition than for her new French team.

Wolfsburg went into their fifth Champions League final in eight years desperate to put right their record of losing to Lyon in two previous finals. With their opponents missing both Ada Hegeberg (injury) and Nikita Parris (suspension) up front, the German champions felt that they had a real opportunity to claim their third Champions League title.

It was a lively start to the final with both teams showing their intent to attack from the first whistle. The French side fashioned the first opportunity when Saki Kumagai’s effort was well saved by Friederike Abt in the Wolfsburg goal.

The perennial danger of Lyon talisman Wendie Renard from set pieces was also in evident in the opening exchanges as her headers from both Dzenifer Marozsan and Amel Majri’s free-kicks narrowly missed the target.

In between, Chelsea target Pernille Harder had an effort on what was to be a relatively quiet night by her standards. Renard’s header clear fell to the Dane but her effort went over the bar.

Wolfsburg let another opportunity slip by on the quarter hour mark when Ewa Pajor and Alexandra Popp combined with a one-two but Sarah Bouhaddi in the Olympique Lyonnais goal claimed the ball.

Lyon made the Germans pay for missing those two opportunities on the twenty-fifth minute when a magnificent move down the right involving the influential Delphine Cascasino saw the ball cut back to Eugenie Le Sommer whose first effort was blocked by the feet of Abt, but the striker followed up rapidly with two defenders standing still around her to score.

Wolfsburg responded well, and within three minutes had another opportunity as Popp headed over. They were playing an excellent patient passing game which conjured up a chance for Fridolina Rolfo but the Swedish international side footed wide.

Cascarino was causing huge problems down the right with Sakina Karchaoui impressing on the left – and it was this pair that were influential for the remainder of Lyon’s efforts in the opening period.

From one such piece of Cascarino excellence, the 23 year-old laid off a ball from a corner to Saki Kumagai just outside the ‘D’ and the Japanese international crashed a shot in the bottom corner to put Lyon 2-0 up at the break.

The French champions almost made it three within minutes of the restart as Sakina Karchaoui ran down the left and cut in to feed Eugenie Le Sommer, but her effort was pushed out by Abt for a corner.

Wolfsburg rallied and Pernille Harder played in Svenja Huth whose cross was below standard and Ewa Pajor could not take advantage.

Just four minutes later, the Germans had better luck. Harder fed Rolfo who put in a great ball which Sarah Bouhaddi could only palm into the path of Alexandra Popp who didn’t miss.

Popp later combined well with substitute Pia-Sophie Wolter but the move was curtailed for offside.

Wolfsburg were pressing well, but unable to create the sufficient quality that was needed to bother Lyon, and as the game entered its final five minutes, it was the French side who rose to the occasion.

Lioness Jodie Taylor, on for Dzenifer Marozsan played in Eugenie Le Sommer, only for Lena Oberdorf to clear for a corner. From the resulting flag kick, Le Sommer drove in an effort which was heading narrowly wide before Icelandic international Sarah Bjork Gunnarsdottir stuck out a leg to deflect the ball past Abt for the winner.

There was one last chance for Lyon to add the icing on the cake when Melanie Malard found Taylor, but Abt saved with the assistant referee raising an offside flag.

Wolfsburg will feel that the score line didn’t do their efforts justice, but they learned a painful lesson – in order to defeat Olympique Lyonnais you have to convert a far higher ratio of the chances you create. They also lacked a playmaker with the creativity of Delphine Cascarino who, at her best can be unplayable.

Lyon took the honours yet again – but there is a growing band of teams across the continent, notably in England, who will feel that next time round things might be different.

Teams: VfL WOLFSBURG: Abt, Blasse, Goessling, Doorsan Khajeh, Jansson, Huth, Syrstad Engen, Popp, Rolfo, Harder (c), Pajor. Substitutes: Kassen (GK), Kiedrzynek (GK), Jakobfi, Heindrich (for Doorsan Khajeh), Oberdorf (for Pajor), Bremer (for Blasse), Rauch, Wolter (for Huth), Dickermann, Wiedermeyer, Grawe.

Scorer: Popp 58

OLYMPIQUE LYONNAIS: Bouhaddi, Karchaoui, Renard (c), Buchanan, Bronze, Kumagai, Gunnarsdottir, Majri, Marozsan, Cascarino, Le Sommer. Substitutes: Gallardo (GK), Talaslahti (GK), Bacha, Henry, van der Sanden (for Cascarino), Carpenter, Greenwood (for Le Sommer), Cayman, Taylor (for Marozsan), Malard (for Majri).

Scorers: Le Sommer 25, Kumagai 43, Gunnarsdottir 88.

Referee: Esther Staubli (SUI).

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