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.

Podcast: Episode 7 – Knockouts and New Faces

Lyon Offside’s series of special podcasts dedicated to women’s football continues with a new episode! The group stages have concluded, and 15 of the 16 OL players who started the tournament have advanced to the knockout rounds. France aren’t quite clicking, VAR has everyone on edge, and now is when the games really get good. Rabeeta (@OffsideBeet) and Arianna (@AScavs) break down the best of match days 2 and 3 and look ahead to the knockouts. Plus, with a new coach and 4 new players now officially announced, we have plenty of questions about the arrivals to OL Féminin.

Have a listen below! You’ll also find timestamps for specific topics if you’d like to jump around. If there are any topics you’d like us to cover, just tweet at any one of us, or you can send an email to LyonOffside@gmail.com.

Topics Covered:

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Lyon Or Bust: OL At The Women’s World Cup

It’s not unusual for the world’s best female soccer players to converge on Lyon over the summer . . . it’s just that usually they’re all wearing rouge et bleu and gearing up for preseason action. But this summer brings an international twist as the FIFA 2019 Women’s World Cup sweeps across France. All roads lead to Lyon, as the Parc OL will have the privilege of hosting the tournament’s semifinals (July 2 and 3) and final (July 7).

OL Féminin sends a tournament-leading 16 players (including the all-but-officially-announced Nikita Parris) to compete with their respective nations for women’s soccer’s greatest prize. Set aside hoisting the trophy–Which World Cup-bound Fenottes stand the best chance of actually advancing to the final four to compete at their home stadium? We’ve ranked the players and their national teams’ chances below.

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Fourth And Goal: Weary Lyon Eye Another UWCL Title

OL Féminin are on the brink of a fourth straight UEFA Women’s Champions League title, a feat unseen in either the men’s or women’s game since Real Madrid swept the first five men’s titles to close out the 1950s. A star-studded showdown with FC Barcelona awaits. But do les Fenottes have enough left in the tank to bring the treble back to Lyon?

With just days to go before the big show, we’re checking in on how the teams got here, key storylines, and players to watch.

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Whose Penalty Is It Anyway? A Closer Look At OL Féminin From The Spot

Death.  Taxes.  And Saki Kumagai scoring penalties for Lyon.  For years, those were the three things we could all count on.  But nothing lasts forever (except maybe Lyon’s dominance in D1 Féminine), and things took a turn as last season came to a close.  Kumagai saw a penalty saved, Coach Pedros began shuffling the deck, and all of a sudden the world’s most lethal team has become decidedly less lethal from the spot.

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Women’s International Round Up: O Captain, My Captain!

We ask just one thing from international friendlies: No injuries.  But you can’t always get what you want, and Amandine Henry’s early exit with a clavicle injury has cast a pall over the break for les Fenottes.  But like Henry’s French teammates, we too will soldier on with a recap of big wins for les Bleues, frustration for England, and rising hopes for Canada and the Netherlands.

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