With the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ just a few short weeks away and the female game set to take centre stage, FIFA.com reviews the latest club and international action in our final monthly round-up before Germany 2011.
Club Football *Lyon claim a French first
*While the club’s men have endured a season to forget, Lyon’s women’s team are at an all-time high after making history in their most successful campaign to date. The crowning achievement came last week at Fulham’s Craven Cottage stadium, when a 2-0 win over defending champions Turbine Potsdam, their conquerors in last year’s final, saw Patrice Lair’s side become the first French winners of Europe’s top prize. A healthy crowd of 14,303 turned out to watch Wendie Renard and Lara Dickenmann score the goals that prevented Turbine claiming a third European crown and keeping the trophy in Germany for a fourth successive season. Not content with that landmark achievement, Lyon then went on to complete their title-winning domestic campaign with their 22nd win in as many matches, beating Toulouse 5-1 to consign their opponents to relegation.
*Gunners up for the cup
*Having lost to Everton in last year’s final, Arsenal regained the FA Women’s Cup with an assured 2-0 victory over Bristol Academy. Scottish duo Kim Little and Julie Fleeting were both on target as the Gunners maintained their dominance in a tournament they have won in five of the last six seasons. Laura Harvey’s side are also chasing an eighth successive championship, but it is Birmingham City who continue to lead the way in the inaugural season of the FA Women’s Super League. With seven games played, the team from England’s second city lead Arsenal by four points, albeit having played a game more, and are the only team still to taste defeat.
*Stars shine in upstate New York
*Western New York Flash are setting a ferocious pace in USA’s Women’s Professional Soccer league and, like Birmingham in England, have still yet to be beaten after seven games played. Eight points now separate Marta and Co from second-placed magicJack, who have two games in hand but were comprehensively beaten when the teams met on 22 May. Caroline Seger struck twice in a 3-0 win played out in front of an 8,000-plus crowd, and with another Flash star, Christine Sinclair, leading the scoring charts, the Rochester-based club look like they will take quite some catching.
National teams *Friendly action for Germany hopefuls
*With the big kick-off on 26 June drawing ever closer, the 16 FIFA Women’s World Cup participants have been putting the final touches to their preparations. Several friendly matches have been taking place, with the tournament favourites, Germany and USA, both chalking up morale-boosting wins against Asian opposition. The hosts saw off Korea DPR 2-0 thanks to goals from Kim Kulig and Celia Okoyino da Mbabi, while the Americans won by the same scoreline in each of their back-to-back matches against fourth-ranked Japan.
*Absentees rack up
*While the cream of women’s footballing talent will be on show in Germany, the tournament has been robbed of a few potential stars. Key USA midfielder Lindsay Tarpley will miss the tournament after tearing her anterior cruciate ligament, while knee injuries have also sidelined German playmaker Dzenifer Marozsan and France defender Sandrine Dusang. Australia, meanwhile, have been the worst hit, with striker Kate Gill – the reigning AFC Player of the Year – ruled out with ligament damage, and the explosive Lisa De Vanna in danger of being left at home after she was expelled from the squad for a breach of discipline.
*Road to Sweden begins
*While Germany 2011 is rightly dominating attention, the first of the UEFA Women’s EURO qualifiers have also taken place, with Iceland claiming an emphatic 6-0 win over Bulgaria on 19 May. However, it will be September before the big guns begin competing for a place at Sweden 2013, with reigning champions Germany opening their campaign with a match against Switzerland.
*Development *Burundi was the focus of FIFA’s development activities in May, with French expert Sonia Haziraj leading a consultancy mission following the launch of the country’s first-ever women’s football league.
*The stat 0 *– The number of defeats suffered by Lyon en route to a European and domestic double this season. The French champions emerged unblemished from their 22 league matches, scoring 106 goals in the process, and won every match save for one – a goalless draw away to Zvezda 2005 Perm – during their triumphant Champions League campaign.
*The quote *“Don’t rule us out of reaching the final of the World Cup or, better still, coming back home with the trophy,” *Nigeria keeper and captain Precious Dede sets her sights high in an interview with FIFA.com. *