With the winter break now in the rear-view mirror, the tussle for the Division 1 Féminine title resumed with both the major contenders recording victories in their first games back, writes Martin Whiteley.
Leaders PSG moved onto 34 points after a 1-0 home win against Bordeaux, with champions Lyon remaining just one point behind after a 3-0 success on home soil against Reims.
Unaccustomed to finding themselves second in the table after the first half of the season there was no surprise that Lyon was proactive off the field to try and keep their run of titles going.
In a pre-Christmas message of intent, the French champions announced that injured striker Ada Hegerberg had extended her contract with the club to the summer of 2024.
Early in the new year, the news came that striker Jodie Taylor would be around for the rest of this campaign.
A new signing often peps the place up and that piece of the jigsaw was soon remedied as in the week before the league campaign resumed Lyon announced that midfielder Catarina Macario would be joining their set-up.
Having chosen to forgo her senior year at Stanford University 21-year-old Macario will arrive in France having won the MAC Hermann Trophy, (Awarded annually since 1967, to honour the United Soccer Coaches National Players of the Year in NCAA Division I men’s and women’s soccer) in both 2018 and 2019.
Currently, the French champions have eight players in their squad aged 30 or over. Of those Amandine Henry, Eugénie Le Sommer, and Saki Kumagai are in the final year of their contracts, and decisions over whether to retain their services have to be made.
Younger players have been out on loan though and are due back at Lyon in June.
Two of them are Grace Kazadi (19) and Emelyne Laurent (22), who will both be returning from Atletico Madrid.
The brace of players will also return to their parent club having tasted that winning feeling at least once, as Atletico claimed the second edition of the Supercopa Femenina on Saturday.
After recent reversals, Atletico was finally able to overcome Barcelona after a 3-1 victory on penalties (1-1 AET) in the semi-final.
Atletico getting the better of Levante who themselves had to overcome Logroño in their semi-final, failed to capitalise on their 3-1 victory and ultimately didn’t have enough on the day to lift the trophy.
Further new signings may well come along but with the abundance of talent already in the Lyon ranks, it takes an incredibly special player to add to the mix.
However, the ability to continue to identify the right candidates who possess all the qualities needed to perform at the highest level is essential to keeping the wheels on the French juggernaut rolling along to even more silverware.
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