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Final does not daunt Lyon women

Their men's team are feeling the pinch, but as UEFA.com discovers, there is no sign of panic as holders Olympique Lyonnais prepare for the UEFA Women's Champions League final.

Sonia Bompastor says Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has a soft spot for his women's team
Sonia Bompastor says Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has a soft spot for his women's team ©UEFA.com

The cars in the car park are smaller and the changing rooms are not quite so luxurious, but the Olympique Lyonnais women have little else to envy their male counterparts on this frisky spring morning.

Training at La Plaine des Jeux, across the road from the men's Tola Vologe facility, the European champions are on course for the treble this season and the light-hearted mood in the camp reflects the team's tremendous results.

The atmosphere contrasts with the tension around 100 metres away, however. Rémi Garde's charges are in danger of failing to qualify for the UEFA Champions League for the first time this century. They lost the Coupe de la Ligue final a fortnight ago, and Garde has decided to train his squad behind closed doors to ensure total focus just 72 hours before the French Cup showpiece against third-division US Quevilly.

A cluster of disappointed supporters denied the opportunity to see Lisandro and Michel Bastos wander across the Avenue Jean Jaurès to have a look at the team that has been brushing aside all comers.

The 'OL Angelles', a group of fans that have followed Patrice Lair's tyros throughout Europe this term, are already in place, their banner attached to the fence behind Sarah Bouhaddi's goal. "Merci, thanks, danke, tack, gracias, obrigado," it reads, expressing the supporters' appreciation for Lyon's multinational team.

"We follow them everywhere and will be in Munich for the final against [1. FFC] Frankfurt," explains David, who helped to make the banner. "There are going to be a lot of Germans so we're going to have to make as much noise as possible to be heard."

Once training is over, several players stay behind for lunch at the canteen where all club employees – from secretaries, to youth-team players and even the president – mix on a regular basis. "OL is like a big family," captain Sonia Bompastor says. "We know the boys well now and often take part in chat shows with them on the club TV channel."

Bompastor is keen to help herself to the pasta and chicken on offer – she has a busy afternoon ahead of her with a visit to a local school followed by another training session – but the man ahead of her in the queue is having trouble deciding what he wants. No one is going to hurry him along, though. It happens to be Jean-Michel Aulas, Lyon's president since 1987 and the driving force behind both the men's and women's sections.

Aulas' eyes light up when he spots Bompastor. He offers the experienced French international a couple of pecks on the cheek before asking her how preparations are coming along for Saturday's French Cup semi-final against Arras FC. Bompastor reassures the boss that Les Fenottes will be ready. "The boys are often jealous of us," the left-back later laughs. "Monsieur Aulas loves us so much. We're definitely his favourites. He watches all our games and is really supportive."