Lyon Offside’s 2019 Women’s Player of the Year

Thirty-seven games, thirty-four wins, zero losses, and five trophies. All in all, not a bad 2019 for OL Féminin, which closed out a decade of dominance with yet another show of European–and even global–supremacy. We could be here until 2020 shouting out all the players whose show-stopping performances contributed to a hugely successful year, but before the calendar flips, we’ve picked our Lyon Offside 2019 Women’s Players of the Year.

Player of the Year: Dzsenifer Marozsan

When you think back on all the biggest moments of the year for Lyon, Maro is in the middle of all of them. Certainly the highlight was her opening goal inside five minutes in the Champions League Final, a made-for-Hollywood moment as she scored in her hometown less than a year removed from a pulmonary embolism.

But she also was instrumental in bringing OL to Budapest in the first place. Her free kick goal against Wolfsburg in the second leg of the quarterfinal put an end any hope of a German comeback, and she delivered a corner to the head of Amandine Henry for a goal against Chelsea in the first leg of the semifinal.

Maro can always be counted on for some pretty goals, but perhaps her best of the year was her stone-cold stunner to silence the pro-Carolina crowd and earn the ICC trophy for Lyon.

Among her many assists this season, a trifecta stands out: In March, she delivered the ball to Ada Hegerberg that provided the stoppage-time breakthrough against Grenoble in the Coupe de France semifinal; in August, her corner kick to the head of Wendie Renard secured a 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid in stoppage time of the ICC semifinal; and in November, she made good on her promise to find a head other than Renard’s when she provided the assist on Saki Kumagai’s game winner against Paris Saint-Germain.

With seven goals and twelve assists in twelve league games so far this season, Maro shows no signs of slowing down this season. The biggest stars show up in the biggest moments, and Maro was there for all of them in 2019. For that, she earns Lyon Offside’s 2019 Player of the Year honors.

Runner Up: Ada Hegerberg

Speaking of showing up in big moments, the inaugural Ballon d’Or winner shown under the spotlight in 2019. Hegerberg banged home a hat trick in just 15 minutes in the Champions League final, reminding everyone just why she’s among the world’s most lethal goal scorers.

At just 24 years of age, she secured her spot atop the all-time leaderboard for Champions League goals, besting Anja Mittag’s 51-goal mark with her 52nd and 53rd goals against Fortuna Hjørring in October.

And after finishing as runner-up in last season’s D1 Féminine scoring race, she bounced back with a fury in the fall, recording 14 goals in 12 matches, and adding 5 assists for good measure.

In between scoring at one of the fastest clips in the game, Hegerberg has taken the time to speak thoughtfully and passionately about equality and respect in the women’s game, proving yet again that she’s not just among the best players in the game, but also among the most important.

Third Place: Lucy Bronze

In many ways, 2019 was the year of Lucy Bronze, as the English right back earned UEFA Player of the Year honors and the title of Dubai Globe Soccer’s Best Women’s Player, along with a second place finish in Ballon d’Or voting and the Silver Ball at the Women’s World Cup.

While her standout performance for England have earned many of the headlines, Bronze played a crucial role down the right side for Lyon all year. Her ability to successfully link up with a revolving door of right wingers–Nikita Parris, Delphine Cascarino, Shanice van de Sanden, and Amel Majri have all played in front of her at various points this year–has helped the squad stay flexible. And her picture perfect assist on Ada Hegerberg’s third goal in the Champions League final was a reminder of her flair for delivering dangerous balls into the box.

Bronze has emerged as a global superstar and a fan favorite in Lyon. But with rumors swirling about her potential return to England the season’s end, we’ll have to wait and see whether she returns to this list in 2020.

Honorable Mentions

Sarah Bouhaddi: Remember what we said about stars showing up in big moments? Sarah Bouhaddi did just that in 2019, standing tall in Lyon’s toughest games. She delivered big saves against Wolfsburg and Chelsea, including a crucial saved penalty from Fran Kirby.

She was also the only goalkeeper at the ICC to earn two clean sheets, including a player of the match performance against the North Carolina Courage. She has been as reliable as ever in league action, including preventing an embarrassing loss to Lille in February with two important saves. And her stops on Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Grace Geyoro in the penalty shootout against PSG brought home for Lyon the inaugural Trophée des Championnes.

Saki Kumagai: Jean-Luc Vasseur thought he might be able to live without Saki Kumagai in his starting eleven. Then he watched his team concede three goals to Stade de Reims in a catastrophically poor defensive performance, and that was pretty much the end of the sans-Kumagai experiment. Now Kumagai is back in her oft-overlooked, but crucial role in front of the Lyon defense, and the gang has gotten back to stringing together clean sheets.

And in a glorious reward for her years of excellent service, Kumagai was the hero in the season-defining match against PSG, heading home the only goal.

Wendie Renard: Please take a moment to respect this elite-level flex:

Agree with our picks? Is there someone we overlooked? Let us know on Twitter, @LyonOffside and @AScavs!

Header photo by Arianna Scavetti; all other photos via Dominique Mallen.

Breaking Records and Barriers on the OL Academy Fields

The OL Academy fields are legendary. On just about any given day, the Academy fields are populated with future superstars, male and female, promising youngsters who are surely just a few years away from dominating European football, just like Alexandre Lacazette and Wendie Renard, or Karim Benzema and Amel Majri before them. And then there was me, for one day only, lacing up my spikes on those hallowed grounds.

Continue reading “Breaking Records and Barriers on the OL Academy Fields”

The revolving door comes to a halt?

Benzema, Lacazette, Martial, Tolisso, Ben Arfa, Umtiti, Fekir, Aouar, Lopes etc… Okay! We get it! The Olympique Lyonnais academy conveyor belt’s ability of producing quality footballers, gift wrapped and ready for a high level international career is well documented, and to quote Moussa Dembélé #IfYouDontKnowNowYouKnow! Around the academy is an incredibly successful recruitment cell led by OL’s secret weapon and chief recruiter Florian Maurice, whose ability to still find hidden gems at low prices in this modern age of football is both astounding and vital to the OL DNA and its ongoing success.

Despite only Anthony Lopes and Nabil Fekir left at the club (Jordan Ferri is currently out on loan to Ligue 1 club Nîmes Olympique), supporters and onlookers have become accustomed to the revolving door of exciting young talent passing from the academy through to the first team. Youngsters at the club are drawing more and more attention from supporters and the footballing world alike as the next big talents.

The strong generation of Ferri, Lacazette, N’jie, Grenier, Fekir, Umtiti, Tolisso, Benzia, Plea and Lopes, most of whom came into prominence during Rémi Garde’s tenure as coach between 2011-14 came to fruition during the 14-15 season under new coach Hubert Fournier. Fournier himself greatly benefited from the trust that Garde was somewhat forced to place on the academy players coming through at the time. Since these players came through, there had been a frustrating gap in quality between the reservists and the first team causing OL to rely more on canny and smart recruitment. Now it’s far different, the current crop of u19 players (not to mention a handful of 15/16 year olds), are already starting to knock on Genesio’s front door for a first team place.

Continue reading “The revolving door comes to a halt?”

Jean-Mimi’s Diary – August 6th, 2018

this is my diary where i keep all my sekrets. do not read unless your name is also jean-michel aulas, president of ol but soon to be president of all football

Mood: Annoyed

dear diary,

i am very mad at all other clubs in the world. their players want to come to ol but their clubs won’t let them follow their dreams

ruben called me today and was crying to come to lyon. benfica has locked him in his apartment and threw away the keys.

yerry emailed me yesterday to tell me that barcelona were trying to force him to play for everton even though he wants to play for lyon. barca said they would send him back to colombia if he didn’t listen

victor also really wants to come to ol but jose mourinho not only said no but also took away victor’s phone. that’s why no one has heard from him ever since. but victor found a pigeon who delivered a note to me, so i know he’s alive

and no one knows this but cristiano ronaldo winked at me a few months ago, which in football sign language means he also wants to play for lyon. sadly it didn’t work out because i cannot afford all his hair products

but all these clubs gave me a good idea. i will take away nabil’s phone. only if liverpool pay me 70 millions euros will I give it back

i will look into it tomorrow

i have the best ideas! no wonder i am best club president in the world!!!

Lyon Post Secret: Week 1

Olympique Lyonnais is a great club to play for. They have a zombie manager, a president who micromanages at nanoscopic levels, and a mascot that looks like it walked out of a child’s nightmare. In return, all Lyon ask of their players is to keep their mouths shut, to stay away from prostitutes and orgies, and to drive under the speed limit. But for those who can’t handle it, struggle with temptation, and are hemmed in by the pressure, they can turn to Lyon PostSecret.

(Lyon PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where the players, coaches, and anyone affiliated with them mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard.)

Continue reading “Lyon Post Secret: Week 1”

Jean-Mimi’s Diary – July 30th, 2018

this is my diary where i keep all my sekrets. do not read unless your name is also jean-michel aulas, president of ol but soon to be president of all football

Mood: Elated

dear diary,

today i found out that lyon is france’s most hated club

very good news!

we are the most popular disliked club. hate = passion, so ol are number in passion. we are winners.

it’s not easy to be at the top, but when it comes to popularity, lyon will always surpass psg.

i am also a celebrity. people always want to take pictures with me. although i’m just a gifted, talented, amazing, genius entrepreneur, i am also humble. but i know the little people see me as a pillar of all that is annoying about my club, so i will step up to the task.

even my friend nasser at psg hates me more than uefa’s financial fair play laws. and he really hates fair play laws.

i am such a winner. i don’t even have to try

 

 

Jean-Mimi’s Diary – July 27th, 2018

this is my diary where i keep all my sekrets. do not read unless your name is also jean-michel aulas, president of ol but soon to be president of all football

Mood: Confused

dear diary,

i don’t understand, liverpool don’t write, they don’t call

why are they ignoring me???

i am being so nice, letting them know they can have nabil. all they have to do is meet my price of a billion euros

what more do they want

english people are losers. unless they are giving me money. then i love them

they keep whining about nabil’s knee. i don’t know what world they’re living in, but show me a footballer who never got injured and i’ll show you a st etienne team that can win the league. lol

plus we all know that premier league turns healthy people into patients, so nabil will come to them all ready to go

whatever. i don’t want to sell nabil anyway. i’m going to keep him and we will win the champions league after a penalty shootout with liverpool, and nabil will score our last penalty and also block their last shot, and then he will call the police and get their team bus towed

then when they try to buy him again i’m going to tell them to take a knee because i’m vindictive like that