Olympique Lyon – Paris Saint Germain 5:0 (2:0)

Preliminary:
Nearly needless to say something about this match. It is widely known that these are the two teams who are dominating in France.
Probably 90 percent of the French national team players are in one of these two squads. And together with the three starters from Germany they are amongst those 5 from which two teams very likely will meet in the Champions League final of the season.
Olympique Lyon is looking for their tenth title. Paris who lost both league matches last season against Lyon but won all against all the other opponents is trying to hold them off. Like they did in last seasons Champions league which was a pretty unexpected upset at the time it happened. But Paris also eliminated holders Wolfsburg later on and made their way into the final. So their self belief should have been good enough to make something happen here despite Olympique Lyon certainly still being the favorites.

Headline: Same old Boullion
Just about 7000 attendance. That is not a record? What is the record? Unfortunately the web home page of Olympique (and even more the french football association) is not quite up to the standard. As are an awful lot in women's football. You don't need to understand that. Maybe it is mirroring how much management improvement there still is needed in women's football. But you can fully understand why the extraordinary flavor of this game has somewhat deteriorated. It is the same each and every time. So you are desperate to look for changes and something new in it. And this year – unlike before – it was Olympique who had some more changes in their roaster between the seasons with this time Paris changing not so much. But overall in the end it was the same old French soup like every year. At least it can be noticed on the positive side for PSG that this game makes the elimination of Lyon in last seasons Champions League an even greater achievement. And it was good to have at least a little bit of a reason to get some excitement for the result because yuo know it is not impossible for Paris to challenge Lyon. And you might be able to see somehow Paris coming through on one match and snatch a win. But that would probably need a goal being converted out of one of those rare situations where Paris can bring the ball in striking distance of the Lyon goal. And Lyon not taking their chances at all. So it has to be just this extraordinary one day where everything goes their way. How they should manage to come through on two games once again – better don't ask. It just seems unreal.

But wait a moment. Is this really right? I don't think so. Partially. Because a score line of 0:5 doesn't show the real difference between the teams. Somehow Paris beat themselves. Kudos though to Olympique Lyon who converted nearly their first two chances ruthlessly to paralyze Paris in a way they didn't recover from during the whole 90 mins. You just felt how it was the end of the story when Majri sent the ball in the back of the net for a 2:0 lead. And it could not have been a more precise finishing with a flat shot from about 10 yards out which first kissed the inside of the upright before leaving the hopes of the Paris team in tatters. After that it was only a few minutes to half time but right from that whistle you saw some Paris Saint Germain players who didn't believe in their chance to turn this still around. Suddenly in most of the duels Lyon players seemed to find a way to muscle their way through. That was not the case in the first half where Paris did not give away a lot to Lyon who struggled to create anything dangerous towards the Paris goal despite having had most of the possession. I remember only accidental chances with a possibility of a penalty and a chance from Bremer after some ping pong action following a set piece.
So the reason that Paris have been without hope after the 0:2 was more their poor offense who was not able to come in any way close to threatening the Lyon goal. Did they have any shot on target? In comparison to last year they are missing Alushi. She can't be replaced as the main link up player from midfield to attack. Delie and Mittag both seem to be strong box players and are good in having the final touch at the end of an attack. But they might be not as useful in preparing chances and in bringing the ball into the box especially when the own team is pushed back and need anker points up front to play with.
Certainly they are still looking how to make up for this problem unfortunately missing add ons to their squad like Bremer on the other side. Not having Asllani (still not fit?) and trying Cruz out of position (see tactical aspects) and with a not well integrated Dahlqvist and a not 100% Horan alone was a big additional deficit. But with Georges still missing, Boulleau not yet fully back from injury and also Dali missing this was by a country mile not the same team that was up to the challenge last season. And yet they have been able to block Lyon away from their own goal far too easy for a long time. However as we saw in this game relying solely on a solid defense is sometimes not enough. The transition from midfield to the forwards might be their main problem to solve if they want to repeat at least their european run from last season.

But apart from that a 0:5 really is a strange result for a game where the keeper was beaten 5 times with no chance to do alot about it but did not have a single other shot on goal that was dangerous nor a lot of crosses to stop nor any other chance of showing some class.

You could say that Lyon were patiently playing and waiting for their chances. Not a bad description. And sometimes a way to success. But only sometimes. Because forcing things makes sense more often than waiting for things just to happen somehow. But it was the same old soup. Lyon far away from the fluidity, the movement and nearly anything that can break down a quality decent opponent standing deep in their own half. Just waiting that a ball falls luckily to their feet. It did and even there they needed the defense to play a key roll. And that was the difference that made the soup tasty for Lyon this time. But that will probably not be enough in future games in exactly the same way it is not enough in the French national team when it comes to real competitive opposition. The second goal was the only well elaborated – though also heavily supported by a whole bunch of faults of PSG in their own box. But goals like the own goal – if it was one – are not a sign of a good game. Not because the ball was touched by a defender before finding the net – that happens. But 2 players standing side by side like hoping to be not hit by the ball rather than going for the ball. And that was not the only situation of the kind. 

And there was quite a formidable gap from Lyons point of view between the "new" generation and the same "old" faces whom you would wish so much to turn around the tide and come back once again. But the gap between the "grand old dames" of women's football like Abily and Schelin (who certainly have been amongst the best players in the world at their times) to the younger players with more hunger seems to have increased again? And moreover it is now also Necib you start worrying for because she hasn't reached her old form during the whole year 2015 at all. Looks like she still has injury problems? Hopefully nothing in her private life. But this was hardly the same player who used to be able to make the difference in such games. In this game it was the difference in their desire to move and succeed of Bremer, Hegerberg and Majri for example what finally got Lyon on to winning ways. We have not seen any other Lyon player involved too much in any dangerous scene? At least LeSommer and Abily(?) had some smaller involvement in goals 1 and 2. 

Maybe Lyon needed some time to start realizing this and maybe they are still in the process. Good for them to have yet other younger players on the bench ready to come in and improve the team. On a side note: Boussaglia who fortunately risked to look for a new challenge before the end of her career had a very good game with Wolfsburg against Bayern and looked much rejuvenated there compared to the years before and also compared to the midfielders yesterday. That might have been a bit of a surprise but nice to see. Whatever the reason was – whether Wolfsburg managed this or the player herself. With those new faces and the "old" rejuvenated like Boussaglia that would be a joy to watch Lyon. Hopefully someone finds away to manage that too. Maybe a change in positions? eg. Schelin playing a midfield role?  Keep your fingers crossed they can find something.

Tactics
FFF OL-PSGThere have been several quite interesting tactical details on display during this match. First things first: A lot of fine grained tactical aspects changed significantly after the game was decided. Surely there were no big changes in the basic formations. But any tactical change after that was heavily influenced by the fact that everything was done kind of not fully convinced by a lot of Paris players or with a convinced safety-first approach by the Lyon players from then on. It was a game with its power reduced to 75%. So some of the observations here are based mainly on the first 40mins of the game. 
One of these is to realize how close together it is sometimes to theoretically play with a back line of 3 or a back line of 4 players. With a game that mainly moved into the half of PSG you could describe the back line of Olympique Lyon easily as a line of MBock – Renard – Kumagai because neither of them went too far up front and at times they switched positions. And Bremer and Majri on the wings. (With Bremer very far up front in the first half but no need to get back more often). Or you can describe it as a line of 4 with Majri as the left back simply playing much more offensive from there than her other three back line colleagues. Both explanations would be valid. With also Henry – Abily – Necib distributing themselves in a very intuitive rather then organized manner over the field it was also not easy to see how the base of the tactical structure of Paris was organized in return.

Let us go with Houara – Delannoy – Erika – Boulleau as back line and Dahlkvist – Seger – Hamraoui – Horan in front of that with some mix ups on the right flank. However it was more important that one name was missing here – Cruz. She played far more up front than we have seen her last season supporting Delie to attack Lyon as far up front and as fast as possible – at least sometimes. That led to an improvement compared to some matches of last season against Lyon as far as they could keep Lyon in quite some comfortable distance from the own box rather than being pushed too far back all the time.
But that probably was not because of Cruz used to be sacrificed as a lonely fighter in the front area. It was a good team effort. Cruz instead was missed a lot in building up the game from the own half. What started as a well elaborated plan fired back soon and should have been changed. As we know now after the game. But it was not that obvious because the deciding moments of the game came without any warning signs up front.

Surely it looked strange most of the time to see many players defending on the right back of the Paris defense whereas on the left Boulleau had to give it 100% all the time to just manage to prevent Bremer from breaking through and was all alone to do so again and again and again. Horan was hardly the support Paris wished for offensively. But even less coming back. And who of the center backs should have helped there you can only guess. Erika probably? That was the main vulnerable point in their defense and sometimes in football you get away with it – but sometimes you get punished there. 

But as mentioned earlier most of the tactical aspects were also no longer important in the second half. Lyon especially with Bremer and Majri on the wings did well to reduced their risk in stepping much more back than in the first half. Lyon had a comfortable control of the game from that on. A camera view to the benches showed the same picture. The excitement was gone to put it in friendly words – or everyone waited only for the final whistle far before the 90mins had been over.

Summary
The French league title is already decided in September. That is even worse than the same old soup. Certainly not a nice perspective for attracting more attention for women's football. However. Unless there is a huge effort in breaking up old traditions and introducing revolutionary new regulations from the football association nothing will change. The only way from a neutral point of view is to hope for PSG to make some more additions to their team – sorry Lyon. Or even better if yet another club would start to strengthen their team. Their team that is. That is not the same as strengthen their squad by "buying" better players. But certainly it will need another several years until the number of top players in a country is big enough that the top teams have to leave decent players over who do not make it into their roasters but are still close enough to really challenge or beat them playing in other teams. 

Or is this already possible? But only the right management lacking so far to make it happen? Who knows. 

But for now it is game over in the French championships and congrats Olympique Lyon for getting 10 time champions (hopefully that number is right). They will focus now on getting the European trophy back. If they are lucky enough and the ball will fall kindly to their feet they will – if not they need to improve.

Player of the match: Bremer
Of course you could go for the standard version and choose the striker with 3 goals Hegerberg. Certainly not a fault to do so. But the most influential aspect and difference-maker in the game has been Bremer on the right wing. She initiated both decisive goals and was a constant threat going forward and had no problems to keep her side clean and tidy later on when a more defensive approach was asked. Certainly not the same old soup in this game for Olympique it should make you a little bit worried that it sometimes seemed that Bremer played half a gear up compared to most of the other players on the pitch.

 

Player Ratings:

Olympique Lyon

Gerard:7
No mistake at all. But that was not too difficult.

Renard: 7
Simply did not need to show more than a solid performance without highlights.

Kumagai: 7.5
Stopped  a lot of attacks before they could even reach Renard

MBock: 6.5
Was not asked any difficult question.

Henry: 6.5
No possibility to show her strength defensively. Nor needed in the offense

Abily: 6
A quiet performance to be kind.

Necib: 6
Are her big days over?

Bremer: 8
The main threat of Lyon.

Hegerberg: 8
3 Goals. Clinical finishing and hunger for success

LeSommer 6.5
At least a little bit more hungry than her "old" comrades Necib and Abily

Majri: 7.5
Clinical finish and always looking to be in the game.

 


 

Paris Saint Germain:

Kiedrzynek: 6.5
Got 5 goals without a chance. And not much to do apart from that.

Houara: 6
Mostly solid but never more.

Dellanoy: 7
The biggest factor in stabilisation of the back line.

Erika: 5.5
Unlucky on the first two goals. Not yet a full replacement for Georges.

Boulleau: 6.5
Understandably still a far way to top form.

Seger: 7
Very consistent level of play. Also missed Cruz at her side.

Hamraoui: 6
Solid in the duels defensively. Need to improve her abilities when in possession of the ball

Horan: 5.5
Good to see her back. But please be more hungry after such a long break.

Dahlqvist: 6
Tried and integrated well in defense. Needs yet something more to shine.

Cruz: 6.5
That was not her game. Kudos that she tried until the end nevertheless.

Delie: 6
Tried her best with no chance of any reward.

 

 

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