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Olympique Lyonnais are aiming for an unprecedented third consecutive European title in Thursday's UEFA Women's Champions League final at Stamford Bridge against competition debutants VfL Wolfsburg.
Lyon are in their fourth straight showpiece, all against German opposition, having lost to 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam on penalties in 2010 but beaten them a year later at Craven Cottage by the same 2-0 scoreline by which they defeated 1. FFC Frankfurt in Munich 12 months ago.
Patrice Lair was appointed coach after the first of those finals and in his three years at the helm is yet to taste defeat over 90 minutes. This term his side have scored 216 goals in 34 matches, winning a seventh successive French title.
"We are on an incredible run that will be difficult to emulate in the future," Lair said. "We take it one game at a time, but the most important thing is a good performance tomorrow. It would be extraordinary for me, the players and the club. At Lyon it has always been the case that I am expected to win, but I am prepared for a time when things don't go so well."
As if it was not tough enough for opposite number Ralf Kellermann, Wolfsburg are missing suspended midfielder Viola Odebrecht, ill defender Verena Faisst and injured forward Selina Wagner, while striker Alexandra Popp has been struggling with an ankle injury and is undergoing fitness tests. "Lyon are definite favourites," Kellermann said. "They have not lost for three years and have top players in all positions, so they are completely the favourites."
Lair, who is missing only injured forward Laëtitia Tonazzi, compared Wolfsburg to Lyon's previous German final opponents. "They are different sides. Potsdam are a more powerful team with physical players. Frankfurt focused on the individual ability of certain players. Wolfsburg have more of a team ethic. Although they will be missing players they have a very good 4-4-2 formation."
Kellermann – fresh from leading to the German double a Wolfsburg squad who, until a fortnight ago, had never won a major trophy – agrees. "Before the season in Germany, Frankfurt were seen as having the better squad. We also have good players, but we play as a unit. That is our big strength and that is how we are going into this game."
Having trained on Tuesday at Fuham FC's Craven Cottage, Wolfsburg are hoping to emulate the three previous German title winners – Frankfurt, Potsdam and FCR 2001 Duisburg – who all claimed the crown at the first attempt. "I saw the finals in Fulham and Munich," Kellermann said. "Lyon obviously deserved to win them, but we are playing a new game. It will be decided over 90 or 120 minutes, every team has a chance and we will be completely motivated."
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