A landmark moment lies in store at the Stade de Gerland on Saturday when UEFA Women's Champions League rivals Olympique Lyonnais and FCF Juvisy Essonne contest the first all-French semi-final in European competition.
Never before in women's or men's football have two clubs from France locked horns in a last-four tie, and the prize for the victors over two legs will be a place in Stamford Bridge showpiece against Arsenal LFC or VfL Wolfsburg on 23 May.
"It shows that we're moving forward and that we're on the right track," said Juvisy coach Sandrine Mathivet, whose side progressed past Göteborg FC 4-1 on aggregate in the last eight thanks to a trio of late goals in Sweden.
Lyon have blazed a trail for French teams after winning this competition for the last two years, and they will go into the tie in high spirits after wrapping up their seventh consecutive French championship on Wednesday.
Nevertheless, club president Jean-Michel Aulas has noted the progress made by Lyon's domestic rivals. "This proves that women's football is doing well in France," he said. "PSG have also been investing a lot since the Qataris took over and Montpellier are working hard. This semi-final will not only have significant importance for Lyon, but for French football as a whole."
Lyon's title win moved them ahead of Juvisy on the all-time list of top-flight honours, and Patrice Lair's side have comfortably outstripped their semi-final opponents on the local stage this term. Les Fenottes have won all 19 games so far, scoring 109 goals and conceding just five, with three matches to go; Juvisy currently lie third – 14 points behind the champions.
The club from the Parisian suburbs have also lost both their league meetings with OL this season, 4-0 away last October and 2-0 at home in February. "It won't be easy; we know that," said Mathivet. "But to be so close to our goal might help the girls surpass themselves. It's not a habit of mine to start out defeatist."
One player relishing Saturday's game – and the second leg on Sunday week – is Lyon forward Laëtitia Tonazzi, who left Juvisy last summer and returned to haunt her former club with a goal in their October meeting. "I spent 11 years at Juvisy, so it's clearly special to me, but I went to Lyon to win trophies, and that's exactly what we're doing," said the 28-year-old, a substitute in both games as OL swept aside FC Malmö 8-0 in the quarter-finals.
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