UWCL final preview: FC Barcelona vs Olympique Lyonnais

UWCL Barcelona Lyon
PORTLAND, OREGON - AUGUST 18: Aitana Bonmati #14 of FC Barcelona passes the ball during the Women's International Champions Cup semifinal between Olympique Lyonnais and FC Barcelona at Providence Park on August 18, 2021 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

After a brilliant UEFA Champions League campaign we finally come to the business end of things. Barcelona and Olympique Lyonnais face off in Turin this weekend each looking to stake their claim as Europe’s top dogs.

NYON, SWITZERLAND – MAY 6: A view of the FC Barcelona and Olympique Lyonnais jerseys with the UEFA Women’s Champions League trophy during the UEFA Womens Champions League Final 2021/22 Jerseys Shoot at the UEFA Headquarters, The House of the European Football, on May 6, 2022, in Nyon, Switzerland. (Photo by Kristian Skeie – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

After a brilliant UEFA Champions League campaign we finally come to the business end of things. Barcelona and Olympique Lyonnais face off in Turin this weekend each looking to stake their claim as Europe’s top dogs.

There is an element of the old guard versus the new guard as Lyon seek to retake their spot at the top. Barcelona meanwhile will be looking to extend their dominance and retain the cup which they won comfortably last season beating Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

Road to the UWCL final (Olympique Lyonnais)

MUNICH, GERMANY – NOVEMBER 17: (BILD OUT) Melvine Malard of Olympique Lyon and Ada Hegerberg of Olympique Lyon substitutes during the UEFA Women’s Champions League group D match between Bayern München and Olympique Lyon at FCB Campus on November 17, 2021 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Last season, Lyon faced a shock exit at the hands of their French rivals PSG in the quarter-final. This season, Lyon were determined to make amends and did so. In the group stage Lyon won five and lost one en-route to the quarters where they faced Juventus. Joe Montemurro’s side handed Lyon a shock 2-1 defeat in Turin but in the return leg, Lyon were back on top of things cruising to a 3-1 win.
Next, the semis. Step up PSG, the eternal rivals and the masterminds behind Lyon’s early exit in last year’s edition. Lyon seemed to have wrapped things up early in the second half with three goals by the 50th minute only for PSG to pull two goals back and set up a thrilling return leg in Paris. The Parisian outfit could not however turn the tie around as Lyon got their revenge with a 2-1 win at the Parc des Princes.

Road to the UWCL final (FC Barcelona)

SANT JOAN DESPI, SPAIN – NOVEMBER 10: FC Barcelona Femeni celebrates a goal during the UEFA Women’s Champions League group C match between FC Barcelona Femeni and 1899 Hoffenheim at Johan Cruyff Stadium on November 10, 2021 in Sant Joan Despi, Barcelona, Spain. (Photo By Javier Borrego/Europa Press via Getty Images)

Undoubtedly the team to beat, Barcelona arrived in this season’s campaign as the outright favourites to retain the crown. In a group against HB Koge, Hoffenheim and Arsenal, Barcelona made easy work of their opponents. They went unbeaten and on top of that, conceding only one goal while scoring 24.

The prize for winning Group C? Real Madrid. Barcelona were still heavy favourites in the tie. In the first leg, Real Madrid got the lead early on through Olga Carmona who took advantage of an uncharacteristic shaky Barcelona defence. The Blaugrana managed to level scores in the 53rd minute via captain Alexia Putellas’ penalty. Real Madrid had done all that they could to keep the scores level or potentially get a goal but it was not to be as Claudia Pina put the Catalans ahead. Putellas was again on hand to put the game to bed in added time.

The second leg took place in front of a record crowd at the Camp Nou. Barcelona again made easy work of their Spanish counterparts beating them 5-2 in front of a raucous crowd.
In the semis, Barcelona hosted Wolfsburg in front of another record crowd of over 91,000 at the Camp Nou. They treated fans with a 5-1 win over German powerhouse Wolfsburg. They lost the second leg in Germany but the job was done by then.

Players to watch in the UWCL final

For Barcelona, it is hard to pick out a stand out in a team that seems to have all departments on lock. Alexia Putellas with ten goals in nine matches will be leading the charge. However, Caroline Graham Hansen or Fridolina Rolfo could be the game changers for Barcelona.

Lyon also have a stacked squad with quality to match Barcelona. They will be happy to have Ada Hegerberg back in goal scoring form. The goalscoring department however has young Catarina Macario to thank with seven goals to her name. Selma Bacha is another player to keep a close eye on. The marauding left-back has eight assists to her name in this campaign and leads the charts.

Now the two teams have faced before in the final in 2019 with Barcelona being on the wrong end of a 4-1 thrashing by the French side. This time around, the Catalans are a different prospect.
Are Olympique Lyonnais set to take back their crown or do Barcelona maintain its position at the top of the perch?

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