Headers, free kicks, overhead kicks, dust collectors: there will be plenty of goals at the EM 2022. But who can put on the top scorer’s crown in the end? 90min takes a look at the promising candidates, from artistic shooters to creative minds to header monsters. Part 2: The “Queen of Paris”, Marie-Antoinette Katoto
Abandoned three years ago, now a key player
A lot can happen in three years. Marie-Antoinette Katoto can attest to that, while she is being considered one of the most important players for France this summer, she was not selected for the 2019 World Cup at home. Although Katoto was top scorer in the French league, coach Corinne Diacre felt the then 20-year-old was too young, unremarkable in big games and not diligent enough – a decision she was heavily criticized for.
This year Katoto is probably one of the first names on Diacres Listing been. She has lived up to the high hopes that have long been pinned on her at club level, but the crowning glory is yet to come with the Équipe de France.
Katoto is an instinct footballer
Katoto has scored 46 goals in all competitions combined this season. With the national team, she was on target at the preparatory tournament Tournoi de France, netting four times in three games. As she says, her recipe for success lies in her intuition:
“Scoring goals is very instinctive for me. I don’t think at all when I’m on the pitch.”
– Marie-Antoinette Katoto
Katoto embodies a very different style of play from Vivianne Miedemas, who designs the game more herself. Katoto, on the other hand, is a goal insurance company that rarely misses great opportunities and has very good timing. This makes her style more comparable to that of Champions League record scorer Ada Hegerberg.
From youth academy to top scorer
The stations of her career so far can be quickly described: Katoto began playing soccer at the age of seven at Colombes FFC, an all-women soccer club in a suburb of Paris. She wasn’t a center forward from the start either: she started out as a defender, but soon changed her position. At the age of twelve Katoto was discovered by Paris Saint-Germain.
She made her debut at the highest possible level: Katoto, then 16, came on as a substitute against Wolfsburg in the 2015 Champions League semifinals. A year later she became European champion with the French U10 and got the top scorer herself with six goals. She has been an undisputed regular at PSG since the 2017/18 season and, following the aforementioned omission for the 2019 World Cup, she has also been brought back on board with the national team.
Fantastic goal quota at PSG – but extension not clear yet
Katoto’s career is also a success story for PSG, she has always been a supporter of the club and is also popular with the fans as ‘one of us’, which has earned her the nickname Reine de Paris (Queen of Paris). She has scored 20 goals or more in the league every year since 2018 and now has 133 goals in 149 games for the club.
How things will continue with Katoto and PSG is not yet clear: your contract expires this summer, a decision is expected soon. Katoto’s main argument against an extension is the careless treatment of the women’s team by PSG, who she believes are not doing enough to keep up with rivals and Champions League winners Lyon.
Missing the 2019 World Cup and France not qualifying for the Olympics, the Euro is Katoto’s first major tournament. This also comes with a lot of pressure, so coach Corinne Diacre called on her strike partners to also take responsibility in order to relieve Katoto. In recent games, France have struggled to score goals: against Slovakia and Wales, neither of which are top-class, they have had two narrow wins (1-0 and 2-1).
Fast-reacting number 9 with good headers
So Katoto’s strengths are needed all the more. She’s a classic number nine who can score from any game situation. A moment’s inattention is enough and she’s off, making her very difficult to defend for 90 minutes. Katoto’s speed is particularly useful on counterattacks, which she usually plays alongside wingers Kadidiatou Diani and Sandy Baltimore. A big advantage for PSG and the French national team is that the three have known each other for five years and their interaction is therefore intuitive.
Another big trump card is Katoto’s header power. With her 1.77 meters, she is usually one of the taller players on the pitch and knows how to use this advantage very well. Their headers are well placed and powerful, and their timing for sneaking out of cover is excellent. This also applies to her shots, where her great strengths lie in responsiveness and intelligent movement away from cover. Katoto can do it with his head, with his right hand or with his heel – like recently against the Netherlands – meet, which makes them even more unpredictable. Their shots on goal are usually powerful and well-placed, often directly under the crossbar or on the inside of the post.
Katoto’s goal threat also benefits her team-mates, as she often attracts two defenders or tears a gap in the back line. She can also dribble with the ball at her feet (about 4 dribbles per game on average, with a success rate of 67%).
Weakness: haste – but the biggest shortcoming has already been eliminated
On the other hand, in an attempt to be faster than the defender, she still closes in haste, although she would have had enough time. A shot from her often goes well over the box. In addition, she could be even more dangerous with her left foot, currently she almost always finishes with the right and therefore loses time when she prepares the ball.
Diacre’s major point of criticism before the 2019 World Cup – their inconspicuous performance in big games – can now be considered eliminated. Against Bayern in the quarterfinals, her two goals plus one assist propelled Paris into the semifinals. It wasn’t her fault there either, she scored two more goals against Lyon.
This shows that Katoto has matured significantly since 2019 and has a good chance of scoring the top scorer in her first major tournament. By then, she will also have decided on her future – alongside PSG, Lyon and Barcelona have also shown interest in the 23-year-old.
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