France

PSG end Lyon’s long run as Olympics-bound stars light up league

Players of Paris Saint-Germain celebrate their title in the French 1st Division 2020/21
© imago images
  • The 2020/21 Division 1 Feminine season saw PSG end Lyon’s dominant reign
  • FIFA.com focuses on the stars and stories of this historic campaign
  • Many key players will now turn their attention to the Olympic Games

"All good things must come to an end,” the saying goes, but in France, football fans would have been forgiven for thinking that that theory did not really apply to Lyon, who had been crowned French champions for the last 14 seasons. However, their remarkable run did indeed end during the 2020/21 season of the Division 1 Féminine, which was won by Paris Saint-Germain for the first time in their history.

With the curtain having just come down on a memorable season, FIFA.com takes a look back at the race for the title and turns the spotlight on some of the league’s most impressive performers, who will soon have a chance to shine again at the upcoming Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Tokyo 2020 and the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™.

PSG in dreamland, nightmare for Lyon

Having finished second on eight occasions since 2011, PSG had managed to reduce the gap between themselves and the all-conquering Lyonnaises every year. But the defending champions still seemed to have the edge, as evidenced by their five consecutive UEFA Women’s Champions League successes. Olivier Echouafni’s Parisian side showed little regard for Lyon’s reputation, however, beating them at home (1-0) and drawing with them away (0-0) to pip them to the post at domestic level, while also knocking them out of Europe at the quarter-final stage.

Kadidiatou Diani celebrates victory over Lyon with her PSG team-mates
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Bordeaux’s star on the rise

While the gulf between the two domestic powerhouses and the other clubs remains substantial, Bordeaux have slowly but surely established themselves as the third force in the league – a spot occupied by both Paris FC (formerly Juvisy) and Montpellier in recent years – by assembling a squad jam-packed with experienced internationals. The French quartet of Charlotte Bilbault, Estelle Cascarino, Eve Perisset and Claire Lavogez fit that bill, as do Katja Snoeijs (Netherlands) and Khadija Shaw (Jamaica), and they are all capably led by Spanish coach Pedro Martínez Losa. It was no wonder, then, that Bordeaux secured third position and consequently qualified for the Champions League for the first time ever.

Khadija Shaw of Jamaica is challenged by Thaisa of Brazil
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Key components confirm class

In a PSG side overflowing with talent at practically every position, Chilean goalkeeper Christiane Endler was in imperious form all season, conceding just four goals in 22 matches. The club’s Spanish captain and centre-back, Irene Paredes, also contributed to that tremendous defensive record, and chipped in with a few decisive goals to boot. French duo Grace Geyoro and Kadidiatou Diani, meanwhile, stood out in midfield and on the right side of the attack respectively. Diani managed to finish in the top three of assist providers (third, nine assists), and of leading scorers (third, 13 goals).

In the first ranking, influential German midfielder Dzsenifer Marozsan unsurprisingly came out on top, while in the second, the aforementioned Khadija Shaw (Bordeaux) took the scoring crown with 22 goals, with French striker Marie-Antoinette Katoto (PSG) just behind her on 21. Katoto made headlines when she was omitted from France’s squad ahead of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, but will be hopeful of making up for lost time by showcasing her skills on the global stage in 2023. Shaw, meanwhile, did appear for the Reggae Girlz at France 2019 but failed to find the net, a situation she will be keen to remedy in Australia and New Zealand.

In the absence of the injured pair of Ada Hegerberg and Griedge Mbock Bathy, Lyon leaned heavily on their other stars, such as Saki Kumagai, Nikita Parris and Kadeisha Buchanan, who are all preparing to take part in the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament with Japan, Great Britain and Canada respectively.

Revelations run riot

Named Best Young Player of the season, Sandy Baltimore, who racked up ten assists and eight goals, will undoubtedly be one of the French players to watch at Australia & New Zealand 2023, as will second-placed Kessya Busy – the 19-year-old Reims attacker was recently called up by Corinne Diacre to face Germany in a friendly on 10 June.

It may be difficult to believe, but 21-year-old Ellie Carpenter has already built up five years of experience at international level. Lyon’s Australian defender was included in the Division 1 Feminine Team of the Season, and would clearly love to follow up her excellent campaign with some solid performances for the Matildas in Tokyo. When in Japan, she might well cross paths with Canada’s Jordyn Huitema, younger than her by one year, who also played her part in PSG’s momentous title triumph.

Ellie Carpenter of Australia prepares to take a throw in
© Getty Images

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