Title favourites PSG must keep star players to usher in new era of dominance
Les Parisiens are on the cusp of ending Lyon’s 14-year reign as French champions but the real hard work could just be about to start, writes Martin Whiteley.
PSG are now within sight of their first Division 1 Feminine title after they secured a goalless draw away at Lyon to move on to 59 points in first place in the table.
Les Parisiens have finished second eight times, including the last three years, but this vital point keeps the leaders one ahead of the champions as the season heads towards its conclusion. The table-toppers have managed to take four points off Lyon this campaign after they won 1-0 at home last November.
In another transformation from last season, the pacesetters also feature the most potent attack in the league, as well as the best defence. Two of the main sources for the 80 goals PSG have scored this term have come through France forwards Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Kadidiatou Diani.
Katoto, who came through the ranks at PSG and made her first-team debut towards the end of the 2014-15 campaign has netted 21 times. That leaves her just one short of her best season for league goals which she attained in the 2018-19 campaign.
The striker is also in contention once more to end the season as the league’s top goalscorer but faces competition from Bordeaux’s Khadija Shaw, who she’s currently locked with on 21 goals. If the PSG star can come out on top in her tussle with the Jamaica striker, she will claim the Division 1 Feminine scoring title for the third year on the bounce.
Diani brought in from Juvisy ahead of the 2017-18 season has 13 goals to her name this term. That total at present equals the amount she scored in her second season with the club. But credit must also go to the players at the other end of the pitch too who blunted the attacking options of their opponents.
Marshalled by captain Irene Paredes, the PSG defence has been virtually impenetrable this league season. So much so that goalkeeper Christiane Endler, who spent 2014 at Chelsea where injury restricted her to just three Super League appearances, has only conceded four goals scored by two teams. It’s a worry for the club that both of them are out of contract at the end of the current campaign.
Coach Olivier Echouafni, another coming to the end of his current deal, should also be praised for having changed the way PSG plays against Lyon. Instead of sitting back and hoping to catch the champions on the break, he has initiated a pressing approach higher up the field to try and create more pressure on Lyon.
With only a single game at home to Dijon — a team they defeated 3-0 in the reverse fixture last October — left to play PSG, will never have a better chance to end the streak of 14 titles for Lyon.
Even if a maiden championship is finally secured for PSG there still may be significant personnel changes that happen during the close season.
Keeping hold of all your best players as well as recruiting pieces that fit the puzzle is not easy, especially when you have a wounded Lyon now chasing you down.
Follow Martin on Twitter at @673martin
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