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For the first time in its 10-year history, the Women’s Champions League final will stand alone from the men’s, which takes place in Madrid in two weeks’ time.
In Budapest’s Ferencvaros Stadium, five-time champions Olympique Lyonnais face first-time finalists FC Barcelona aiming to become the first team since Real Madrid in 1960 to win four titles in succession.
Lyon captain Wendie Renard and goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi will play in an eighth European Cup final, equalling the record of Real Madrid’s Francisco Gento.
Bouhaddi, who scored the winning penalty in the 2017 final shoot-out, refuted suggestions that Lyon are under pressure to win. “We are used to these games, it will be more of a positive pressure that will animate us.”
Renard added: “Obviously we are more experienced than Barcelona but a final is played on the pitch — no matter how many titles you have won, you still have to try your best and give everything.”
Should they win again, Renard, Bouhaddi and striker Eugenie Le Sommer will also match Gento’s 53-year old record of six European titles.
The French champions, who narrowly defeated Chelsea in the semi-final, have required extra time to win each of their last three finals and Barcelona coach Lluis Cortes is prepared for tomorrow’s final to go the distance.
“Not going as favourites does not mean we give up on victory. Extra time and penalties is a scenario that we contemplate and, if it happens, we have to continue with the same approach and maximum confidence.”
If the Catalans triumph, FC Barcelona will become the first club side to win the men’s and women’s Champions League.
However, Barcelona were eliminated in the quarter-finals of last season’s competition against Lyon, losing both legs by a single goal. As their centre back Mapi Leon admitted: “We defended very well in those quarter-finals, but we will have to try to have more of the ball to have more chances of winning the game.”
After waiting nine seasons for an English player to win the competition, one of Phil Neville’s World Cup squad is guaranteed to come away with a winner’s medal tomorrow.
Should Lyon retain the title, Lucy Bronze would become only the third English footballer in the modern era to play in two Champions League winning teams following in the footsteps of Steve McManaman (2000, 2002) and Owen Hargreaves (2001, 2008).
On becoming the first of the Lionesses to win the competition last season, Bronze said: “I always want to pave the way for English players, that was one of the reasons for coming to Lyon. Once all the girls see that I’ve done it, I’m sure that they’ll think they’re capable of doing it.”
Seeking to emulate her tomorrow, Barcelona’s Toni Duggan who reached the semi-final alongside Bronze with Manchester City in 2017, said “winning the Champions League final for me personally would be a dream come true, it’s the one I want, the one I need. So to add that to my collection would be amazing.”
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