Wednesday 08 August 2018, 12:50

Lyon, where champions are made

  • Six Lyon players nominated for The Best FIFA Women’s Player 2018 award

  • All are star performers in Europe’s best team

  • Will one of them become the first Lyon player to be The Best?

As the history of the game has shown time and time again, the best teams do not necessarily boast the best players, while having the most individually talented players is no guarantee of being the best team. An example of that comes in women's football, where Olympique Lyonnais have been one of the world’s leading teams for more than ten years now, without one of their players ever winning The Best FIFA Women’s Player award or its predecessor, the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year award.

All that could be about to change in 2018, however, with no fewer than six Lyon players among the ten nominees for this year’s accolade. looks at the Lyon phenomenon, which has seen this talented sextet improve their individual talents while keeping their club on top at home and in Europe.

Talented additions

Lyon could have been forgiven for going into the 2017/18 campaign slightly less motivated than usual, having lifted the UEFA Women’s Champions League trophy the two previous seasons and the French title 11 times in succession. The club’s winning culture is no passing trend, however, with great care being taken to ensure that their rivals have nothing but runners-up spots to contend for.

That determination to keep on winning was reflected by the arrivals of Netherlands international Shanice van de Sanden, a winner at the UEFA Women’s EURO 2017, and England’s Lucy Bronze, a key player for her country and at her previous club, Manchester City. “Lyon win everything and they’re the best team in the world,” said Bronze on signing for the French giants. “I definitely want to get my hands on the Champions League trophy. That’s why I came here.” That objective was duly fulfilled by the end of the season, with a French league winner’s medal also coming the England player’s way.

Another leading light of Lyon’s deep pool of talent is Amandine Henry, who had already won everything there was to win with l’OL before adding a National Women’s Soccer League title with Portland Thorns to her career honours and then returning to Lyon in January. “I’m coming back to play with the best players in Europe and the world,” said Henry on rejoining the French club. “It’s a new challenge for me. I’m coming back better and more experienced. It was important for me to leave and try something else, though we all know that l’OL are the best club in the world. It was important for my future and my development to come back here, to the very top.”

The Lyon phenomenon in stats

6 - The number of Lyon players on the list of nominees for The Best FIFA Women's World Player 2018 award.

198 - The number of goals Lyon scored in the 2017/18 season: 104 in the French league, 38 in the UEFA Women’s Champions League, and 56 in the Coupe de France. Norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg scored 53 of them, 15 of which came in the Champions League – a competition record – including one in the final.

24 - The number of titles l’OL have now won, after the 2017/18 campaign brought them a fifth Women’s Champions League – the third in a row – and a 12th consecutive league title. Defender Wendie Renard has contributed to every one of those trophy wins, having joined the club in 2006, a season before their maiden title triumph.

A strong spine

Not content just with snapping up talent, Lyon make intelligent use of it by stationing their best players in key positions, with The Best FIFA Women’s Player nominees Renard, Saki Kumagai, Dzsenifer Marozsan and Hegerberg forming the backbone of coach Reynald Pedros’ team.

Renard is one of the best central defenders in the world and one of the leaders of Corinne Diacre’s France side. Positioned in front of her is Kumagai. Described by her former coach Gerard Precheur as “the Xavi of women’s football”, the Japan captain excels both in shielding her defence and instigating attacks, which are invariably orchestrated by Germany skipper Marozsan and finished off by Hegerberg, one of the most prolific strikers on the planet.

While players invariably make a point of thanking their team-mates whenever they step up to collect individual accolades, never will those words sound so true if one of Lyon’s stars walks away with The Best FIFA Women's Player award this year.

You can play your part by voting for The Best before the deadline at midnight CET on Friday 10 August!