The teams that met in the first two UEFA Women's Champions League finals in 2010 and 2011, 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam and Olympique Lyonnais, are gearing up for a round of 16 date that has Jennifer Cramer musing: "It's a shame one of these teams must leave the competition so early."
Potsdam, who stage the first leg on Sunday, claimed their second European title in 2010 with a penalty shoot-out win against Lyon in the new one-off final in Getafe, only for the tables to be turned 2-0 in London a year later. Lyon then saw off Potsdam in the 2012 semi-finals, 5-1 on aggregate, on their way to another triumph, and Turbine suffered their first round of 16 exit last season at the hands of another former champion club, Arsenal LFC.
Still, Potsdam are going well in the Frauen Bundesliga, unbeaten and behind 1. FFC Frankfurt on goal difference alone after Julia Šimić and Johanna Elsig scored in an admittedly underwhelming 2-1 victory at SC Freiburg last Sunday. Coach Bernd Schröder said of defender Elsig, who turned 21 two days before her 88th-minute headed winner: "Johanna has developed wonderfully and has become an important player in this position for us. She is always working hard and wins a lot of aerial battles."
As for this latest tussle with Lyon, for which Cramer is missing injured, Schröder added: "If there is an advantage for us in this situation, it's that we are playing the first leg at home. With the support of our faithful and abundant fans, we can really put down a marker for the second leg, which would keep anything possible."
However, in Lyon, they face a side on a run of 13 consecutive competitive victories since their final defeat by VfL Wolfsburg at Stamford Bridge in May. Their strength is shown by the fact their 1-0 triumph at strugglers Yzeure Allier Auvergne FF last Sunday – secured by a 76th-minute Wendie Renard header – was the closest they had come to not recording an away win since a similar scoreline at Paris Saint-Germain FC almost a year ago.
Camille Abily played for the first time in a month but Amandine Henry (knee) and Melissa Plaza (leg) sat the game out and defender Corine Franco suffered a knee injury that rules her out against Potsdam. Coach Patrice Lair said: "We had girls back from international duty a bit tired. Potsdam will, of course, be a tough tie. However, our ambition is to win the final, so we should be able to reach the last eight."
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