The Champions League semi-final between Lyon and PSG may be perfectly poised at 3-2 with PSG yet to play at home. But the Parisian side need to plan ahead for more than just this season’s next big match, writes Martin Whiteley.
Once again, PSG faced off against Lyon in the Champions League this week. The two clubs have crossed paths six times in the last eight years; so far, Lyon hold a 3-2 advantage in tie wins. But if you look closer at each team’s set-up and contract planning, Lyon could well hold a massive advantage over PSG for years to come.
The first leg of the all-French clash was the second of this year’s semi-finals. Two days earlier, the holders Barcelona had secured a 5-1 home win against Wolfsburg in front of another record crowd for a women’s match – a stonking 91,648. Captain Alexia Putellas scored a brace.
Like Barca, it was home side Lyon who gained the advantage for next Saturday’s second legs after recording a 3-2 success.
Marie-Antoinette Katoto opened the scoring early for PSG, but Lyon turned the game around to lead 3-1. Wendie Renard scored from the penalty spot after 23 minutes, with Catarina Macario adding to Lyon’s tally with goals in the 34th and 50th minutes. The visitor’s goalkeeper Barbora Votíková will not have been happy with her part in any of the goals.
Paulina Dudek scored from the spot just before the hour mark to close the gap for the away team.
After PSG had won their first league title last year, the hope was that it would be the catalyst that saw the end of Lyon’s dominance. They had already ended their rival’s attempt at winning a sixth-straight Champions League trophy, and the future looked bright for the side from the French capital.
Despite their championship success, a few PSG players still thought the grass would look greener wearing a Lyon strip and left before the next campaign began.
A disastrous 6-1 league loss for the title-holders away to Lyon last November now has the 14-times champions in touching distance of yet another title this time around.
Luckily the champions PSG still had enough of their core performers under contract for this season to be competitive in the early rounds of Europe. That, however, could become more problematic going forward.
The standout name on the list of players whose time at the club could be ending this summer is their all-time leading scorer Katoto. A product of the PSG academy, she has now netted over 140 goals for the first team. This season she tops the scoring charts for both her club and the Division 1 Féminine league.
If the striker can score three more league goals this season, she will finish with 20 for the fourth time in the last five years. The one season she failed was the Covid-19-shortened 2019-20 campaign when she netted 16 times from as many games.
In worse news for PSG, inspirational figures Sara Däbritz and Sandy Baltimore are also yet to agree to new terms. Germany national team player Däbritz has been a part of the set-up since 2019, and the pacy Baltimore is another to have progressed through their youth ranks.
However, there has been some good news on the recruitment front during the past few months. Defender Dudek and captain Grace Geyoro signed on for two more years. Striker Ramona Bachmann also extended until 2023.
Seeing a string of players departing, even after being successful, must set alarm bells ringing for potential targets – not to mention the players who are already at the club.
A smooth transition from one deal to the next for influential personnel sends a strong message of continuity and a plan for the future.
Lyon has a reputation for being well organised both on and off the field, and PSG quickly needs to have a structure that matches its rival.
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