June 24, 2024, 11:58 am

Barca want Lyon revenge in battle for European dominance

  • Update Time : Thursday, May 23, 2024
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Photo: Collected

Sports Desk:

The Women’s Champions League final 2023-2024 between Barcelona and Lyon on 25 May, in BilbaoAFP

When Barcelona take on Lyon in the women’s Champions League final on Saturday, the Catalans will be out not only for revenge but also to cement their place as Europe’s most dominant force.

The Catalan giants have reached the final for the fifth time in six seasons and are aiming to lift the trophy in Bilbao for the third occasion in four years.

Opponents Lyon are the record eight-time champions and defeated Barcelona in 2019 and 2022 finals — they have never lost against the Catalans across four matches.

“It’s inevitable to think of (revenge) given the two finals we’ve lost against them,” Barcelona midfielder Patri Guijarro told AFP and other media at their Johan Cruyff stadium ahead of the final.

“They are also the best team in Europe, the team that’s won the Champions League the most… I think it’s an attractive final, a great final, and hopefully it’s third time lucky.”

Barcelona and Lyon have shared the last eight Champions League trophies between them, and although nobody doubts the Catalans’ quality, until they beat the French giants a feeling of unfinished business remains.

“Lyon will still be the best, they have eight Champions Leagues, it’s incredible what they’ve done,” acknowledged Guijarro.

 

“Lyon is Lyon, (their record) will never… well, not never — for now we can’t change that, hopefully one day, but there’s a long way to go.”

Barcelona first faced Lyon in the quarter-finals back in 2018, losing the first leg 2-1 and the second leg 1-0, outclassed by an opponent that was at the time, at the peak of their power.

‘Worst possible way’

They met again in Budapest, Hungary in 2019 as Barcelona became the first Spanish side to reach the final.

Dzsenifer Marozsan opened the scoring for Lyon after five minutes and then Norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg hit a hat-trick before the half-hour mark to leave Barcelona shattered.

Asisat Oshoala netted a late consolation as Barcelona fell to a stinging 4-1 defeat.

“Our first final ended in the worst possible way,” said Barcelona midfielder Alexia Putellas.

“It was very painful in the short term but in the long term I think it was good in some ways, because it showed us where we were as a team in terms of the level we needed to become European champions.”

However a run of five consecutive Lyon Champions League triumphs was eventually snapped by Barcelona in 2021, as the Catalans lifted their first by thrashing Chelsea.

Playing attractive, attacking football and boasting stars including Putellas and Jenni Hermoso, Barcelona benefitted from thousands of travelling supporters and the club’s illustrious name.

On the way to the final the following year Barcelona set two world record attendances for women’s football, packing Camp Nou with over 90,000 fans for matches against Real Madrid and Wolfsburg.

Many labelled them favourites when they took on Lyon in the 2022 final, which angered the French side, pioneers in the game.

“There was women’s football before Barcelona, and it was played here for years,” said Hegerberg.

Fired up, Lyon came out of the blocks rapidly in Turin and took the lead through Amandine Henry’s long-range rocket, with Hegerberg and Catarina Macario strikes giving the French side a three-goal lead after 33 minutes.

It was a familiar feeling for Barcelona, wounded by Lyon’s high press and physicality, and although Putellas pulled one back, they fell short once more in the 3-1 defeat.

It was the fourth time the teams had met, each ending in a defeat for the Spanish side against the record champions of Europe, Lyon scoring 10 times to Barcelona’s three.

The manner Lyon have swatted Barca aside time and again has added to the Spanish champions’ determination to land a blow back this weekend.

“There’s that small slice of revenge after losing those two finals, albeit from a position of respect,” said veteran Barcelona defender Marta Torrejon, at the club since 2013.

“They are a great opponent and it will be a tough game, but we can’t wait for it.”

 

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