Clear
88.2 ° F
Full Weather
Sponsored By:

Barcelona seeks its first win against Lyon in Women’s Champions League final

Sponsored by:

BILBAO, Spain (AP) — Barcelona has to find a way past the most successful club in women’s soccer if it wants to build on its recent dominance.

Barcelona will play in its fourth straight Women’s Champions League final on Saturday in Bilbao against record eight-time champion Lyon, the nemesis it has never been able to beat.

The titleholder from Spain has a shot at a statement victory by finally overcoming the storied French club and winning its third European title — all within a four-season span.

Lyon, meanwhile, will be hoping to reclaim the trophy after not getting out of the quarterfinals last season and seeing the hype grow about Barcelona and its star players Alexia Putellas and Aitana Bonmatí, who have won back-to-back world player of the year awards.

“We are a team that has won a lot in the past. But we remain really ambitious,” Lyon coach Sonia Bompastor, the first woman to win the league as a player and coach, said on Friday.

“For me we are the best team in the world and will continue to be no matter what happens tomorrow. I trust my players. I know there is all the individual and collective talent needed to achieve this goal.”

Bompastor, who can become the first woman to win two titles as a coach, said it’s natural for rivals to be extra motivated to try to bring down Lyon, which will be playing in its 11th European final in 15 seasons.

Lyon won five titles in a row from 2016-20, and holds nearly every Women’s Champions League club record. The French side has won all four of its matches against Barcelona, including 4-1 in the 2019 final in Hungary and 3-1 in the 2022 final in Italy.

“This Barça is different from the one we faced in the final two years ago,” Bompastor said. “They have made new signings and each final brings with it a different story. It will be a totally different game tomorrow.”

Bonmatí said Barcelona has “grown a lot” since the first final against Lyon.

“I would say that we didn’t have any kind of experience, and physically, we were far off the big teams,” she said. “Now, we are probably one of the teams to beat out of anyone.”

Barcelona beat Chelsea for its first European title in 2021, and Wolfsburg for its second in 2023.

“We’ve had a fantastic season, playing great football, and the recent weeks have seen us on a great dynamic,” said Barcelona coach Jonatan Giráldez, who will leave at the end of the season to join U.S. club Washington Spirit. “It’ll be a great final because I have no doubt at all that these are the two best teams in the world right now. To have the chance to add another Champions League means we can try to show we are still the best team in Europe.”

The club had nine players in the Spain squad that broke through with the nation’s first Women’s World Cup title last year. Barcelona also sent eight players to the semifinals of the inaugural Women’s Nations League, which Spain won in February.

Barcelona is trying to become the third team to win three European titles, after the eight by Lyon and four by Eintracht Frankfurt. It reached the final by overcoming a 1-0 first-leg loss to Chelsea at home in the semifinals. Lyon eliminated French rival Paris Saint-Germain.

Lyon has lost two of its goal scorers from the 2022 final in Turin — Amandine Henry and Catarina Macario. The other, Ada Hegerberg, had been nursing a injury but was expected to be fit to play on Saturday.

“Ada has resumed normal team training,” Bompastor said. “She could be available tomorrow.”

___

AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

By TALES AZZONI
AP Sports Writer

Feedback

  Traffic Alert