England women's manager Hope Powell and captain Faye White told UEFA.com that Thursday's final will provide a fitting climax to a competition which continues to flourish.
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Split between seeing it as too close to call and an Olympique Lyonnais victory, England manager Hope Powell and captain Faye White are at least united in their belief that Thursday's UEFA Women's Champions League final is further evidence of the burgeoning quality of the tournament.
In a repeat of last season's showpiece, Lyon take on 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam at Craven Cottage looking to avenge their defeat of a year ago in Madrid. It marks a fitting conclusion to the second tournament since the competition transferred from its previous incarnation as the UEFA Women's Cup, and for White, a beaten semi-finalist with 2007 winners Arsenal LFC this term, demonstrates just how far the women's game has come.
"It's shown how the tournament's progressed," White told UEFA.com. "When you're playing it, you notice how the gap between the best and other teams is getting closer all the time. That's the same on the international stage as well. People are slowly watching it and gradually getting an interest. It's on the rise – it's very positive.
"The fact the name's been associated with the men's, the fact it's now the Champions League, it puts it on that higher level in terms of exposure and how you feel when you're part of it. Experience of playing in it in the past few years has been a lot tougher. We had to get to the final of the FA Cup this year to make sure we qualified. That was our main aim because we've been in it ever since I can remember. It's improving in quality all the time but I think the women's game is in general anyway."
Taking place just two days prior to the UEFA Champions League decider between FC Barcelona and Manchester United FC at Wembley, Powell feels the women's competition is flourishing in its own right. "It's great," she said. "It shows women's football is valued and the Women's Champions League is valued. We know that from the outset because we have the two finals in the same week and in the same country."
As for a prediction, Powell thinks it will be too close to call. "Looking at the final last year, it was a fantastic game," she added. "I'm just hoping that it's another great spectacle and that it showcases women's football for what it is – good skill, good technical ability, a good professional approach. I hope it's a good game and as dramatic as it was last year."
White, though in agreement there will be little in it, sees revenge on the horizon for Lyon. "I think it will be a close game – last year's was," she said of Potsdam's penalty shoot-out triumph. "I think Lyon are stronger than they were last year and I understand they're very determined to make amends. I think they've got the quality to do it."