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This Saturday, Barça Women will play the final of the UEFA Women's Champions League in Budapest (kick-off 6.00pm CEST), with the Catalans just 90 minutes away from being crowned European champions for the first time. Never before have they been so close to glory, but to reach it, they will have to overcome Lyon, the dominant team in France. The French side have won every league title since 2007, that is, a total of 13 consecutively, and in Europe there are no teams who come close to them either.
Lyon have won the last three editions of the UWCL and have won five titles from their seven finals overall, all in the last decade.
Lyon, coached by Reynald Pedros, are a team used to winning match after match and their numbers speak for themselves: 27 wins and three draws in 30 matches across the League and Champions League, and a balance of 118 goals scored and just 11 conceded.
Dominion of all records
The French team not only stand out for their goal scoring numbers but are also capable of mastering any aspect of the game and adapting, if necessary, to many situations during a match. Lyon are used to dominating a game, as was seen in the last round against Chelsea, and then annihilating their rivals through suffocating pressure, counterattacking and effective play.
However, even when the game doesn’t appear to be going their way, they have a secret weapon: dead ball situations. Lyon are specialists in this facet of the game and corners as well as free-kicks could be key to winning the final. Players like Renard, Hegerberg, Henry and Bronze are just some of their experts.
Three players to keep in mind
Hegerberg: The current Ballon d’Or. Her effectiveness in the channels combined with her scoring prowess make her a unique player, fearsome and very difficult to stop.
Henry: The French defensive midfielder can not only take games by the scruff of the neck, but she also has a super passing range which makes her a constant danger. She will sacrifice everything, when necessary, to ensure she meets her defensive tasks too.
Renard: Her physical condition allows her to be one of the best centre-backs in the world. Leader of the defence, she not only provides power and security, but also goals.
The Barça precedent
Despite Lyon having great potential, Barca already put the French team in trouble last season in the quarterfinals. The 2-1 first leg in Lyon gave Barça Women a lot of hope, but they were not able to go through after the second leg at the Miniestadi, an even match that ended 0-1. Coach Lluis Cortés and the entire squad are aware that they will have to look to attack more and to create more chances in order to be in a position to win the final. It won’t be easy, but as Cortés said: "That we are not favourites doesn’t mean that we won’t go for the win." The final is only the beginning.
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