Women’s soccer takes center stage at Stamford Bridge on Thursday, when history is on the line for one of the best women’s club teams ever.
No team has ever won three consecutive UEFA Women’s Champions League titles. Only one team, Frankfurt, has ever won three total European titles (previously the UEFA Women’s Cup), but those were spread over seven seasons. So Thursday’s Champions League final between (for the seventh straight season) French champion Lyon and first-time German champion Wolfsburg present the world’s best club team with the chance to enter into unprecedented territory.
“We are on an incredible run that will be difficult to emulate in the future,” Lyon coach Patrice Lair told UEFA.com. “We take it one game at a time, but the most important thing is a good performance tomorrow. It would be extraordinary for me, the players and the club. At Lyon it has always been the case that I am expected to win, but I am prepared for a time when things don’t go so well.”
This is Lyon’s fourth straight final, all of which have been against Frauen Bundesliga competition. After losing a shootout 7-6 in 2010 to 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam, Lyon beat the same team the next season and won its second European title over 1. FFC Frankfurt last season.
Of importance to fans in the United States is midfielder Megan Rapinoe’s inclusion in the Lyon side. Rapinoe joined the French powerhouse in January and has flourished in her time with Lyon. The relationship has been so successful that Rapinoe is considering returning for the 2013-14 season, according to SI’s Grant Wahl.
“I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and I’m definitely thinking about coming back and playing another season here,” she told SI. “There’s interest from both sides, from me and Lyon. It’s worked out well mutually.”
Rapinoe will join the devastated Seattle Reign FC sometime in June.
As for Wolfsburg, captain Nadine Kessler is confident in her side’s ability to get a result on Thursday.
“Lyon also have their weaknesses,” Kessler told UEFA.com. “We will try to find them, and above all, act like a team; I think that will be key. We don’t have star players like Lyon, but I think that if we play very compact and set ourselves up in a compact way, then we still have a chance and we certainly want to take advantage of that.”
Should Wolfsburg prevail, it would be the seventh European crown for a German team and, more notably, a massive upset of a Lyon team that carries the expectations of being the G.O.A.T., as we Americans like to say (greatest of all-time).
U.S. viewers can tune into the game on GolTV at 4:30 p.m. ET. (Note, this article originally listed the air time as 12:30 p.m. ET due to GolTV’s error in TV listings. Unfortunately, the 4:30 p.m. ET airing is not live).
- This is the first-ever meeting between the two teams.
- This is Wolfsburg’s competition debut. Frankfurt (2002), Potsdam (2005) and Duisburg (2009) all won the European title in their debut.
- Lyon midfielder Camille Abily was named the player of the match the last two finals.
- Sonia Bompastor has won 42 Champions League games, one more than Lyon has as a team.
- Three Wolfsburg players — Josephine Henning, Viola Odebrecht and Nadine Kessler — faced Lyon in the finals while with Potsdam.
- Wolfsburg’s Conny Pohlers could become the first player to lift the trophy with three different teams (Potsdam in 2005, Frankfurt in 2008). Pohlers leads the squad with eight goals in as many Champions League games.
- Swedish forward Lotta Schelin paces Lyon with seven goals in five Champions League games, but the team will be without injured Laetitia Tonazzi, who has contributed six goals.
How they got here:
Round of 32: RTP Unia Racibórz 5-1 (a), 6-1 (h), agg: 11-2
Round of 16: Røa IL 4-1 (h), 1-1 (a), agg: 5-2
Quarter-finals: FC Rossiyanka 2-1 (h), 2-0 (a), agg: 4-1
Semi-finals: Arsenal LFC 2-0 (a), 2-1 (h), agg: 4-1
Round of 32: PK-35 Vantaa 7-0 (a), 5-0 (h), agg: 12-0
Round of 16: FK Zorkiy Krasnogorsk 9-0 (a), 2-0 (h), agg: 11-0
Quarter-finals: FC Malmö 5-0 (h), 3-0 (a), agg: 8-0
Semi-finals: FCF Juvisy Essonne 3-0 (h), 6-1 (a), agg: 9-1
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