In Focus: Lyon the final hurdle in Barcelona’s Quadruple hunt
Quadruple-chasing Barcelona face seven-time winners Lyon as two of the dominant forces in women's football go toe-to-toe in the Champions League final.
The French outfit are the most decorated side in the history of the competition but will be tested by current holders Barca, who arrive in the final off the back of a sensational domestic campaign.
Ahead of the showdown, we preview what is set to be a thrilling encounter in Turin this evening.
A rampant Barcelona cruised to the league title, winning all 30 games and accumulating an astonishing goal difference of 148 and a 24-point gap at the summit.
A Quadruple is on the cards if Barca, who broke the all-time attendance record for a women’s match in their El Clasico clash with rivals Real Madrid in March, can defend their first ever Champions League title.
The Spanish champions have won more domestic titles than any side in their own country but face opponents who rule over French and European football.
Lyon top the UEFA rankings, which is no surprise considering their dominance domestically and on the continental stage.
They have also arrived in Turin in superb form and are on the brink of clinching a historic 15th league title, needing one win from their remaining two games.
The French outfit have faced tougher competition in their league than the Catalans though, as Paris Saint-Germain have pushed them all the way this year and stopped their 14-season win streak in the last campaign.
Jonatan Giraldez, 30, became Barcelona’s head coach in July 2021 following two and a half seasons as assistant coach of his predecessor Lluis Cortes.
His side won all of their Primera Division games for the first time in their history and are aiming to complete a domestic clean sweep.
Being well versed in the club’s ethos has undoubtedly helped the head coach live up to the high standards set by Cortes in his debut season.
Sonia Bompastor has also been in her role for a year, joining Lyon in April 2021.
The Frenchwoman retired after a second spell at Lyon and is known as a legend of the game thanks to her successful 12-year playing career.
Bampastor, 41, became the first woman to take charge of her side after working as the club’s academy director.
Both Giraldez and Bampastor bleed their club’s colours and whoever emerges victorious tonight will earn huge plaudits in their debut season.
Barcelona: ones to watch
Barcelona’s Aitana Bonmati was named Player of the Match in last season’s 4-0 Champions League final victory over Chelsea.
Academy graduate Bonmati has produced her best numbers in a Barcelona shirt this season, finding the back of the net 17 times and providing six assists, including four goals in the Champions League.
The Spaniard, 24, netted on the final day of the season against Atletico Madrid and completed a hat-trick the game prior.
The attacking midfielder has filled the boots of Dutchwoman Lieke Martens, who has been sidelined recently but still managed to produce superb numbers — totalling 19 goals and 14 assists.
Current Ballon d'Or holder Alexia Putellas, 28, is joint-top scorer in the competition with 10 goals and has scored 18 times and provided 15 assists in all competitions.
Lyon: Ones to watch
Lyon’s Ada Hedenburg is the all-time leading scorer in the competition with 58 goals and bagged a hat-trick when these two met in the final of Europe’s finest competition in 2019.
The Norwegian returned to her very best at the start of the season following a serious injury in January 2020, striking 16 times in 26 games adding to her sensational club record of 236 goals in 210 appearances.
Hedenburg, 26, is a player for the big occasion — having netted five times this European campaign.
Captain Wendie Renard is one of the most decorated players in the game and has spent her entire career at Lyon.
Despite being a centre-back, she has scored a stunning 131 goals in her domestic career, including two in her last three.
Renard, 31, became the first woman to make 100 Champions League appearances last month and Lyon fans could not ask for a better player with her experience and winning mentality leading the defence in this final.
Lyon have won all four of their meetings with Barcelona, beating the Catalans 3-2 in their last clash in the International Champions Cup in August.
Les Gones triumphed 4-1 when these two met in the 2019 Champions League final, finding the net all four times in the first half.
Barcelona's Martens returned from injury last weekend and got 10 minutes under her belt, but is likely to only be fit enough for a place on the bench.
For Lyon, midfielder Dzsenifer Marozsan has missed the previous four games and remains unavailable.
There is no clear favourite in this clash as both sides look to end another successful season on a high.
Barcelona’s taste of European glory last season will certainly give them a boost ahead of this battle, with the added incentive of achieving a Quadruple for the first time.
The Catalans still have an upcoming El Clasico in the Copa de la Reina semi-finals and will know that the outcome of tonight can make or break their season.
But Lyon have the experience of performing on the European stage consistently and will carry the intensity from their title race with PSG into the showdown.