Lyon and PSG women's team compete to restore sheen to French football

By Paul Myers - RFI
MAR 22, 2023 LISTEN

Champions League defending champions Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain will attempt to buff the tarnished image of women's football in France on Wednesday when they take on Chelsea and Wolfsburg respectively in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

The first leg matches come as French football supremos search for a new boss for the women's national team following the sacking of head coach Corinne Diacre.

The 48-year-old year-old was dismissed on 9 March after team skipper Wendie Renard said in February that she wanted to stop playing for the side to preserve her mental health.

Three other players - Kadidiatou Diani, Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Perle Morroni - also said they wanted to quit the squad.

All four will be in action on Wednesday night as Lyon and PSG  women's teams attempt to eclipse their male counterparts in European club football's most prestigious competition.

Lyon boss Sonia Bompastor said: “We will have a lot of respect for this Chelsea team."

The former France international added: "They are one of the favourites in this competition but we also have a lot of experience on our side.”

Lyon will be boosted by the return of striker Ada Hegerberg. The 27-year-old Norway international has been out of action since last September when she suffered a knee injury on international duty.

"I think we knew when the draw was made that it did not matter who we got," said Chelsea boss Emma Hayes on the eve of the clash.

"This stage is the top teams in Europe so we are just prepared, we are ready no matter the opponent. I think this team has learnt a lot over time and we are ready for whatever game that is presented to us.”

Bompastor, like her PSG counterpart Gerard Précheur, has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Diacre.

Précheur, who steered Lyon to back-to-back Champions League titles in 2016 and 2017 before leaving to take over Jiangsu Suning's women's team in China, said: "It's easy to prepare mentally for a game like this because it's the kind of match everyone wants to play in.

"Where we have to be sharp is tactically."
Wolfsburg arrive at the Parc des Princes as Bundesliga pacesetters. Tommy Stroot's players lead Bayern Munich by two points after 15 games. The sides meet on Saturday in Munich for a potential title decider.

Stroot led Wolfsburg to the 2022 crown during his first season in charge and is attempting to add a third Champions League crown to the club's trophy cabinet.

"It's an away game in the quarter-finals of the Champions League – that says it all," said the 34-year-old German.

"On top of all that we're in Paris against a team with a lot of individual quality and a special way of playing football. "I really don't care who the favourite is. All I want is to reach the semi-finals."