Almost two years after tearing her ACL, Marie-Antoinette Katoto is seemingly back to her best. The Paris-Saint Germain striker took time to rediscover her scintillating form but now that she has, she’s right back on song.
Against AFC Ajax in the UEFA Women’s Champions League, Katoto scored brace but its her first goal, and PSG’s first goal of the game, that showed just how far Katoto has come from that terrible injury just before the 2022 UEFA Women’s European Champioship.
In the sixth minute of the game, teammate Sandi Baltimore made her way past her marker before floating the ball towards Katoto’s general direction. With the ball fading away behind her, Marie-Antoinette Katoto decided to go for the audacious attempt instead of trying to bring it down; once again showing just how high her confidence is at the moment.
It was a moment of class from a player, who on top form, is one of the best in the world and cannot be stated enough just how much PSG, and potentially France, will be delighted to see that kind of self-belief from Katoto.
Whenever you see a player attempt a bicycle kick, it’s always from a player who truly believes they’re at the peak of their powers. You have to be to try something like that, no matter who your opponents are. Get the technique wrong, and you become an instant meme but when you get it right, you produce a moment of magic that won’t be forgotten any time soon.
The skill it takes to not only attempted a bicycle kick but to actually score from it cannot be understated. You have to understand the flight of the ball, have full control of your body to twist it in the right direction, and then angle your leg in a way that allows the ball to beat the goalkeeper. Marie-Antoinette Katoto did all of those things against Ajax to open the scoring and one cannot be help but be happy to see heron song once again.
Katoto’s second, while not as extravagant, exemplifies why she’s one of the best around when fully fit. Grace Geyoro spots Katoto in space after a turnover in midfield and immediately plays her in, knowing that her striker will get the job done given the chance.
Katoto duly obliges by taking a few touches to set herself up and then lifting the ball over the advancing goalkeeper with aplomb. Coolness personified and with an ease that not many strikers can produce. Once again, Katoto showed with a different type of finish that not only is she clinical in front of goal but she has the quality in both feet to produce finishes that other players just can’t quite do. She herself may not feel like she’s at the height of her powers but she’s definitely on her way.
PSG have qualified for the knockout stages of the UWCL, and while their position at the top of the group isn’t confirmed yet, they will feel as though they can finish off this group at the top. The last time a Katoto-led PSG played in the UWCL, they made it to the semi-finals where they were just pipped out of the competition by FC Barcelona. During that two-legged tie, Katoto was almost unplayable and it seems as though now, she’s back to being that difficult to mark once again. If she stays fit, and continues to shine in her connection with Baltimore and summer signing Tabitha Chawinga, then PSG will feel they have every chance of making it deep into the competition again.