With Wolfsburg's Lara Dickenmann set to meet old club Lyon in the final on 26 May, the midfielder tells UEFA.com about her move and the contrast between the sides.
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A two-time UEFA Women's Champions League winner with Lyon, Lara Dickenmann will attempt to deny them a third title when she lines up for Wolfsburg in the Reggio Emilia final on 26 May.
The 30-year-old Switzerland midfielder ended a seven-season Lyon spell last summer with a switch to Wolfsburg, who on Sunday completed their semi-final victory over holders FFC Frankfurt. That took the Wolves through to a repeat of the 2013 final where the German side ended Dickenmann and OL's hat-trick hopes.
Dickenmann spoke to UEFA.com about her decision to change clubs, the difference between her current and former teams, and life among Wolfsburg's Swiss contingent.
UEFA.com: You lifted the European title twice with Lyon; how great is your desire to win it again with Wolfsburg?
Lara Dickenmann: It was one reason I changed clubs, because I wanted to get to know the German Bundesliga and the German mentality. I wanted to find out why Germans always win in the end, and not the French for example, who can play football pretty well too, or any other country. Of course I was thinking about the Champions League as well: with Lyon we didn't manage to get past the last 16 in the last few years, so now with Wolfsburg I plan to challenge at the top again.
UEFA.com: How difficult was it to get used to another team and playing style, following six years at Lyon?
Dickenmann: It was not so easy at the beginning. There were a lot of changes taking place in the first team compared with last season, and some important changes too – for example [striker] Martina Müller, who is not here any more, played an important role last season. So it was not easy at the start of the season and you could see that on the pitch. Things didn't go quite so well.
But from the beginning of 2016 we've got going. We had a good preparation [in the winter break] and you can see that in matches where we would have lost in the first part of the season, or got a draw, we're winning now and getting the three points. I think we've grown as a team during the season, which is important.
UEFA.com: What are the main differences between Lyon and Wolfsburg?
Dickenmann: In France the focus is on style of play and possession – to make it look good – and in Germany it is mostly all about efficiency, it's important to leave the pitch as the winner and it doesn't really matter what it looks like. We do try to play some nice football here in Wolfsburg, but not at all costs. If you have to show some fighting spirit and passion or play more direct, then we do that.
It's very good tactically for us to be able to vary between possession and playing more direct – that was missing a bit in Lyon, but that's also to do with the league, where not all the teams are as strong and you can still play the possession game in the final third of the pitch. It's a bit more difficult in Germany compared with France, as the league is more balanced here.
UEFA.com: How much did it help you settle, to have familiar faces here in your Swiss national team colleagues Vanessa Bernauer, Noelle Maritz and Ramona Bachmann?
Dickenmann: That always helps. I was looking forward to playing with those three on an everyday basis, having already enjoyed playing alongside them with the national team. Wolfsburg is not so big and the club take very good care of new players, so I would have adapted well anyway, but it's certainly nice to have them all here. It's like a little Swiss family. We can talk Swiss German here and there, so it is like a piece of our home.