Barcelona v Lyon Champions League final could mark changing of the guard to Catalan control
With Barcelona displaying league dominance and a set-up that echoes Lyon in their era of Champions League supremacy, the history of successive European wins could repeat itself – but this time in Barca blue and red, writes Martin Whiteley.
The Champions League finalists may have matched their 3-5 aggregate scorelines in the semis at the weekend, but it’s Barcelona’s invincible domestic form and winning mentality that looks set to be the difference against Lyon in this season’s showpiece on May 21st.
Despite slumping to a second-leg defeat after goals from Wolfsburg’s Tabea Wassmuth and Jill Roord ended the Spanish champions’ 45-game winning run on Saturday, the holders still progressed thanks to the ultimately insurmountable 5-1 lead they had taken to Germany.
Meanwhile, seven-times champions of Europe, Lyon, held a more slender 3-2 advantage heading to the French capital in the later kick-off at PSG. But they showed all of their experience to win 2-1, with headers from Ada Hegerberg and captain Wendie Renard either side of Marie-Antoinette Katoto’s goal for the hosts just after the hour mark.
Lyon beat Barcelona emphatically 4-1 in the side’s first final back in 2019, but the tables have turned and now it’s the Spaniards who’re looking to put together a run of victories following last season’s maiden triumph in Europe.
Les Lyonnaises’ dominance aside, the most any other team has managed to achieve is two consecutive Champions League titles. But look closely, and you will find several fascinating similarities between the Lyon side that went on to win five straight trophies and this Barca team.
Domestic dominance is a key standout, leading to confidence and an expectation that you will win nearly every time you take to the field of play. Barca only lost one league game away to Atletico Madrid last term and the Catalan giants have recorded maximum points in all 27 of their Primera Division Femenina contests so far this season.
During the 2015/16 campaign, Lyon were never defeated domestically and only dropped six points all season. The French powerhouse did lose one game the following season but still claimed the title by eight points.
Having that world-class player on your side to help navigate you through any remotely tricky situations is always a plus. Striker Hegerberg had moved from Turbine Potsdam to Lyon ahead of the 2014/15 season and hit the ground running by scoring 26 league goals. In the next three seasons, the Norway star would go on to either top or tie for pole position in the league scoring charts with 33, 20, and 31 strikes respectively.
Barcelona have in their squad skipper Putellas, whose all-around performances in the midfield have seen her claim the most recent Ballon d’Or Feminin and Best FIFA Women’s Player trophies.
The squads assembled by Lyon and Barca heavily feature players from each country’s national teams. They also tend to be located in the core positions, too. For the French side, it started in goal with Sarah Bouhaddi. Protection for her came from Griedge Mbock and Renard. Amandine Henry and Camille Abily, now assistant to coach Sonia Bompastor, dictated play from the middle of the park.
For the side from Catalonia, their spine now consists of goalkeeper Sandra Panos along with last summer’s signing Irene Paredes and Mapi Leon, repelling any advances from their opponents. As the ball moves further forward, Patri Guijarro, Putellas, and Jennifer Hermoso take over to produce the magic at the top end of the field.
With Lyon attempting to challenge Barca, it will be interesting to see if the Catalans not only make it back-to-back wins but achieve the longevity of success that the French side previously enjoyed.
Follow Martin on Twitter @673Martin
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