Olympique Lyon are back at the top of women’s football

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

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

All of Catalonia

This crowning achievement is captain Wendie Renard’s eighth, boss Amandie Henry’s seventh, and Norwegian icon Ada Hegerberg’s fifth. Nevertheless, he is interested in something new. Because it was acquired at a time when the ‘sections’ of the biggest men’s clubs are on their way to taking power over women’s football’s historic teams. Because it was also drawn in the vastness of Juventus Stadium and in a fire atmosphere.

Skeptics have to face the facts: even women’s football is capable of conquering a city in a big game. This Saturday the fourteenth stage of the Giro ended in Turin, but to find out you had to run on the right bank of the Po, where the finish line was located. Somewhere else? All of Catalonia seemed to support FC Barcelona. Driving for the adventure or flying because it takes less time, there were around 15,000 of them waving flags, singing together under the scorching sun and looking for a seat on the terrace. The supporters of Olympique Lyonnais were only 2000, but their presence did not go unnoticed in the bars chosen for the “warm-up”.

Among the fans of both camps there are these groups of girls, even footballers, who have come from their clubs to train. In addition, there is this family audience typical of women’s struggles. But there are also many fans of Barça and OL, the men’s version, who are committed to playing a competition that has been given much more prominence this year. The phenomenon appeared across Europe, including in Geneva, where Servette-Chênois set an attendance record for a women’s game in Switzerland when she played Chelsea in front of a crowd of 12,782. He confirmed himself in the final. Admittedly, the ticket price was affordable (from 10 euros per adult, 5 per child). But the stadium was almost full.

miracle of the goal

However, this enthusiasm remains the exception, not the rule. There were almost three times as many Catalans in Turin as the Estadi Johan Cruyff, where Barca play their league matches, can accommodate. Players don’t act like nothing’s going to change. “It’s not the same to take a penalty in our small stadium or at Camp Nou,” said captain Alexia Putellas before the game. People followed us a lot more, so we have a lot more pressure. But this pressure, I see it as a luxury: Who wouldn’t want to play football in front of 90,000 people?

On a hot evening in Turin, it was the Olympique Lyonnais players who knew how to keep a cool head. From the 6th minute of play, Amandine Henry used her chance from 30 meters to score a wonderful goal, with a flick into the top corner. On the 23rd, Ada Hegerberg didn’t tremble as she completed a perfect cross with a header. On the half hour it was Catarina Macario who made it 3-0 after a more confused move.

After the goal was reduced by Alexia Putellas (41st), Barça created many opportunities for a comeback. Sometimes there was a touch of bad luck as Patricia Guijarro’s shot from 50 meters smashed the bar as the goalkeeper advanced. But often there was a bit of a lack of precision or confidence in the final gesture. In the 58th minute of the game, the Swiss Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic could not change anything at the end of the match.

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