Byrne backing Barca to topple Wolfsburg in Champions League final
Emma Byrne is tipping Barcelona to defeat Wolfsburg in Saturday's Women's Champions League final.
The Catalan giants suffered a surprise defeat in last season's showpiece, losing 3-1 to an Ada Hegerberg-inspired Lyon in Turin.
But ex-Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Byrne — who won the competition with Arsenal in 2007 — is backing Barca to get the job done this time around.
Speaking exclusively at LiveScore's Champions League final fan preview event in Dublin, Byrne, 43, said: "Barca are very, very difficult to beat and if Jonatan Giraldez plays his strongest team I think Wolfsburg are really going to struggle.
"However, Wolfsburg have got Ewa Pajor who is the leading goalscorer in the Champions League, she is very dangerous — and you are talking about a German side, you can never write them off!
"They are very robust, they are very different and Barca might struggle a bit with the physical side.
"But I do still think Barca will win — and I think they will win 2-0 or 3-0."
Eight-time Spanish champions Barca have experienced a meteoric rise in recent years, spearheaded by Ballon d'Or holder Alexia Putellas.
Giraldez's side followed up last season's remarkable perfect record of 90 points from 30 games with another exemplary campaign of 28 victories.
While tested more on the continental stage, they breezed past Roma in the quarter-finals before a 2-1 aggregate victory over English powerhouses Chelsea.
In contrast, Wolfsburg lost their German crown to Bayern Munich, and needed extra-time to edge past Arsenal in their semi-final.
On what makes Barca such a special team, Byrne added: "They are so technical. I think one of the main differences is that at a young age, nobody is shouting at them what to do.
"They allow the players to play freely and use their skills. Even when Spanish players came to Arsenal I was screaming at them!
"In my area, doing tricks and trying to nutmeg people, I was like: 'What are you doing?'
"Here in England, we tend to overcoach, but if you go to a game in Barcelona there is no one coaching from the sidelines, parents do not say anything and the kids are free to play how they want.
"And when they have a day off, they go and watch the men's team. They are just constantly studying and watching football, which is a big difference as well."
Chelsea's run to the final in 2020-21 is the only time an English side has made the Champions League showpiece since Byrne lifted the trophy with Arsenal.
The Gunners in particular have been hampered by a number of key injuries this term, with Leah Williamson, Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema all absent for their clashes with Wolfsburg.
And Byrne believes the competitive nature of the Women's Super League is proving to be detrimental.
She continued: "It is just an overload of games which has really impacted the WSL players.
"Yes, other players [across Europe] get injured but Barca for example, their league is not competitive.
"They might have two or three games a year that are actually competitive, so they can rotate all the time.
"You just have to look at the workload of the WSL players — and for them to be switching from astroturf to natural grass for me is also a massive, massive problem."