In their fourth meeting of the season, the French pair will face off in far different circumstances away from their respective homes when they battle for the ultimate prize in European domestic football.
Body blow in the league
A team of mixed fortunes, the two French sides have met before in the Champions League with each claiming a win, PSG winning the first battle in 2014-15 when they narrowly beat the rivals 2-1 on aggregate. Though it was Lyon who’d be having the last laugh when they met for a second time, OL en route to their third title easily dispatching with the Parisiens 8-0, a first-leg 7-0 defeat a bruising one for [at the time] France’s second-best team.
Their record in France this season equally split, the northern team with the first honours in mid-December, their 1-0 win enough to wrench the title-race wide open. The joy that followed the win was however, short-lived as the 2015 finalists were hit with a four-point deduction following a rule breach in the first match week of the season.
The hard work put in at the Stade Georges Lefèvre for naught, PSG’s 2017 far shakier than their 2016, and points dropped against Montpellier (L), Olympique Marseille (L) and Guingamp (D) saw the pressure piled on as they travelled south to Lyon. A commanding first-half performance from the hosts in a must-win for PSG had the Parisiens already guaranteed a third-place finish as elsewhere in France MHSC hit Soyaux for ten to make the result in Lyon irrelevant either way.
Two goals down to lowly Bordeaux, PSG rallied in their last leauge game of the season to come back and draw, leaving them six points behind second-placed Montpellier and 14 adrift of Lyon.
No reprieve in the Coupe de France
The league loss to Lyon was quickly followed by a meeting with the champions in the Coupe de France final, a better showing from the Parisiens saw them take the lead against an off-colour Lyon side. A moment of madness from former Fenotte, Shirley Cruz gave the champions a way back into the game, Saki Kumagai deadly as ever from the spot, the game back in favour of Lyon as PSG struggled through the second-half.
The match went straight to penalties after the initial hour and a half, the two well matched, the spot-kicks sublime and clinical leaving both ‘keepers little chance. Irene Paredes’ skied effort from twelve yards not punished after Kumagai struck the post and the ball bounced clear. Ouleymata Sarr’s weak effort happily cleared by Méline Gérard to set up UEFA player of the year, Ada Hegerberg, the young Norwegian’s penalty pumped into the roof of the net as Lyon claimed their second silverware of the year.
Now in their fourth meeting this season and third in less than three weeks, PSG will be looking to get back to winning way, getting closer each time the two have met this year.
Whilst Lyon have at times looked off of the pace in the Champions League this year, notably in the quarter and semi-finals against VfL Wolfsburg and Manchester City respectively, PSG have continued to shine despite a chequered league campaign.
Even when PSG have lost games (away to LSK and Bayern Munich) they’ve been the dominant force, the Parisiens simply a different beast when it comes to the UWCL, although their greatest performances have all been in Paris, either at the Stade Charléty or the Parc des Princes.
Arguably the unfavourited team in Wales, PSG remain one of the wealthiest in the women’s game, their squad one packed with talent but a third-place league finish has left them with no choice but to win the final if they wish to compete in the Champions League next season.
The knock-on effects of missing on Europe’s most prestigious competition about the loss of personnel or the inability to attack the best players, the financial implications of far less importance. Without UWCL football for 2017-18, Paris becomes a far less desirable club for footballers looking to compete with the elite in Europe.
Looking for a record equalling fourth Champions League title (to tie them with FFC Frankfurt), Lyon are the serial winners, a group of world class players, their breeding unquestionably world-class. PSG, on paper, are simply not as strong however should never be written off, Patrice Lair’s team more than capable of going toe-to-toe with any team in the world.
The final will mark the first time two French sides make up the last two, the first time a German team will not be in with a shot of winning, a chance for PSG to win their first European cup. There is yet other potential history out there as Lair could become the first coach to lead two different clubs to victory as well as the first coach to win a third title.