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Camille Abily was named player of the match in the last two UEFA Women's Champions League finals – and she is keen to help Olympique Lyonnais achieve a hat-trick at Stamford Bridge on 23 May, in a match for which tickets go on sale today.
The France midfielder returned to Lyon in 2010 after a stint in the United States and has been at the heart of a side that some rate as the strongest female club team ever. In 2011 they claimed their first European crown, avenging the previous year's final loss against 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam 2-0 at London's Craven Cottage; 12 months later it was the same scoreline against 1. FFC Frankfurt at Munich's Olympiastadion.
Lyon are now on course for a fourth straight decider as FC Malmö await in March's quarter-finals and the 28-year-old Abily, fresh from signing a new contract, told UEFA.com about the chance of more glory in the English capital.
UEFA.com: This season the final is being played at Stamford Bridge. What does that represent for women's football?
Camille Abily: It's simply fantastic. To be able to play in a stadium like the one at Chelsea is wonderful. We know it will be a quality pitch, quality infrastructure. It is like a dream for us, even if in the last few years we have been used to playing in 'men's stadiums'. Chelsea won the last Champions League, so it is a real honour for women to be able to play the final in their stadium.
UEFA.com: Have you already visited the infrastructure or seen a game at Stamford Bridge? It is a stadium where ex-Lyon players have played: Michael Essien and Florent Malouda ...
Abily: I visited the stadium as a tourist when I was in London. I also know one of Chelsea's physios, who was at Clairefontaine when I was there. He helped me recover from my cruciate ligament surgery. I hope to see him again at Chelsea in May.
UEFA.com: You were player of the match in the last two UEFA Women's Champions League finals. How much are you inspired by big games?
Abily: I think it is in big games that the great players stand out. I try to perform as well as possible. During those two finals other players were very good too, but maybe because they are more defensive you see them less. I play in a more offensive position, we are an attacking side, but the whole team were very good in those two games. I was happy, it was a little bonus, but I was more interested in the main trophy.
UEFA.com: Going back to the final in Fulham two years ago: what are your memories, whether from the build-up to the game, the final iself, or when celebrating the title?
Abily: The joy at the end. It was the first win by a French women's team in the Champions League. The year before OL lost on penalties, so in 2011 we really wanted to win, and we had a bit of pressure because we didn't want to lose two finals in a row. That would have been a pity. I remember our joy at the end, the harmony in the whole group, the whole club – because there were a lot of people from the club who came. It was a great joy.
UEFA.com: You want to come back to London for this season's final. What makes the city so special for you?
Abily: First of all, England is a country where football is very popular, everybody talks about football. Even if women's football is not at the level of men's football, it has developed a lot recently. We saw at Fulham that there was a lot of passion. So I hope we will be at Stamford Bridge and that there will be as much passion as in Munich last year.
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