Less than a year after leaving Lyon for Wolfsburg, Lara Dickenmann and Élise Bussaglia will face their old club in Thursday's final – they are certainly ready for the showdown.
Article top media content
Having lost their two-year grip on the UEFA Women's Champions League to Wolfsburg in 2013 and suffered a pair of round of 16 exits to follow, Lyon have torn through this season like a team possessed, culminating in the 7-0 semi-final first-leg thrashing of Paris Saint-Germain that set up a rematch with Wolves in Reggio Emilia.
So how to combat a club many considered the best in the world even in the campaigns when they were falling short in Europe? Ralf Kellermann may have found an answer.
In the summer, Kellermann, who has a wide-ranging role at Wolfsburg that goes well beyond coaching the first team, signed Lara Dickenmann and Élise Bussaglia from Lyon. Swiss international Dickenmann and France midfielder Bussaglia, both 30, were in the Lyon squad that lost to Wolfsburg at Stamford Bridge in 2013, but now they could hold the key to repeat success for Kellermann's side.
"We will definitely have a discussion with [Dickenmann] and Élise Bussaglia," Kellermann said. "We'll prepare for the game against Lyon thoroughly with the coaching staff, and maybe they can give us a couple of tips."
Bussaglia explained why she switched. "First of all I wanted to change leagues, because I'd been in the French league for a long time and I'd started to feel tired. I wanted to experience something else. I think German football is at a very high level, and there's a lot of ambition. German players have always won titles and silverware, and I wanted to see how they worked, discover a new playing philosophy, see what was happening across the border, get to know a new culture and a new language."
Dickenmann adds: "I wanted to get to know the German Bundesliga and the German mentality, and I wanted to find out why the Germans always win in the end, and not the French for example, who can play football pretty well too."
Crucial to Switzerland playing in their first FIFA Women's World Cup finals last year, Dickenmann has proved a crucial cog for Kellermann. "I was excited from the very first moment when Lara Dickenmann arrived here. She is a top professional who has the advantage of being able to play in many different positions. She has been playing at right-back for us, which was not the initial plan, but it really suited our style of play."
Bussaglia cannot wait to come face to face with France colleagues and former club-mates. "Of course it's special. France is my country, I've experienced everything in France, and I play for the national team alongside many of the Lyon players, I know them really well.
"We've sent each other a few messages – that's normal. First of all we congratulated each other on reaching the final. It was such a great performance by them to beat PSG 7-0 in the first leg; and they congratulated us on our win at home against Frankfurt. Then we just said that we'd see each other in the final on 26 May.
"When Lara Dickenmann and I left Lyon we said we would meet them again in the final next season. We said: 'We'll see, a year is a long period of time' and now it's coming true. Some of the Lyon players wanted this final as well, it's the ideal pairing." It's also ideal for Kellermann to have a former Lyon pairing in the camp as the final approaches.
This is an edited version of a piece in the official final programme, available for just €5. Order your copy at firstname.lastname@example.org.