Olympique Lyonnais back at the top of women’s football

By winning the Champions League in 2021, FC Barcelona broke Olympique Lyonnais’ streak, who remained on five consecutive coronations. This Saturday in Turin, Olympique Lyonnais FC Barcelona broke into just half an hour to take revenge. It was 3-0 for the players of Sonia Bompastor after 33 minutes of play on the lawn of Juventus Stadium. Despite the return of their opponents, dominating in the purest Blaugrana tradition, the French women held their ground and won 3-1.

A lot has changed in the Champions League this year. The format, which included a group stage for the first time. Visibility, greatly improved by the broadcast of all matches on YouTube. The bonuses promised to the participating teams were significantly revised upwards. But one truth has not been denied: Olympique Lyonnais remains at the top of women’s football. The club has now won the most prestigious European competition eight times, more than a third of the 21 editions contested to date, well ahead of the competition. Frankfurt has four titles, the last in 2015.

All of Catalonia

This coronation is the eighth for Captain Wendie Renard, the seventh for boss Amandie Henry, and the fifth for Norwegian icon Ada Hegerberg. Still, he has a predilection for the new. Because it was acquired at a time when the “sections” of the biggest men’s clubs are on their way to take control of the historic teams of women’s football. Because it too was drawn in the immensity of the Juventus Stadium and in an atmosphere of fire.

Skeptics have to face the facts: women’s football is now also capable of taking over a city during a big game. This Saturday the fourteenth stage of the Giro finished in Turin, but to find out you had to walk on the right bank of the Po, where the finish line was. Elsewhere? All of Catalonia seemed to have moved to support FC Barcelona. By car for the adventure, or by plane because it takes less time, there were about 15,000 of them waving flags, singing together under the blazing sun and looking for seats on the terrace. The Olympique Lyonnais supporters were only 2000, but their presence did not go unnoticed around the bars chosen for the “warm-up”.

Among the fans of both camps there are these groups of girls, themselves football players, who have come with training from their clubs. There is also this family crowd, typical of women’s competitions. But there are also many fans of Barca and OL, the men’s version, who have played the game of a competition that has been much better highlighted this year. The phenomenon occurred across Europe, including Geneva, where Servette-Chênois set a visitor record for a women’s match in Switzerland by meeting Chelsea in front of 12,782 people. He confirmed himself in the final. True, the price of tickets was affordable (from 10 euros per adult, 5 per child). But the stadium was almost full.

Miracle of purpose

However, this enthusiasm remains the exception, not the rule. There were almost three times as many Catalans in Turin as the Estadi Johan Cruijff, where Barca play their league games, can accommodate. The players don’t pretend it doesn’t change anything. “It’s not the same to take a penalty in our small stadium or at the Camp Nou,” captain Alexia Putellas said before the game. People have followed us a lot more, so we have a lot more pressure. But I think that pressure is a luxury: who wouldn’t want to play football in front of 90,000 people?

On the hot evening in Turin, it was the Olympique Lyonnais players who managed to keep their cool. From the 6th minute, Amandine Henry seized her opportunity from 30 yards to score a brilliant goal, with a curled shot into the top corner. In the 23rd, Ada Hegerberg didn’t tremble when finishing a perfect cross with a header. On the half hour, it was Catarina Macario who scored the 3-0 after a more confused action.

After the lowering of the score by Alexia Putellas (41st), Barça created many opportunities to come back. Sometimes a touch of bad luck got the better of him, such as when Patricia Guijarro’s shot, released from 50 yards as the goalkeeper advanced, crashed into the crossbar. But often there was a lack of precision or confidence in the last gesture. The Swiss Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic came in the 58th minute of play and was unable to change anything at the end of the meeting.

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