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UEFA Women's Champions League group stage preview: Häcken vs Lyon

Swedish champions Häcken, who scooped their first Damallsvenskan title in 2020, face the daunting prospect of the most decorated club in UEFA Women’s Champions League history in their Group D opener.

New Lyon signing Signe Bruun
New Lyon signing Signe Bruun Icon Sport via Getty Images

Swedish champions Häcken, who scooped their first Damallsvenskan title in 2020, face the daunting prospect of the most decorated club in UEFA Women’s Champions League history in their Group D opener.

The Gothenburg-based side, then known as Göteborg, reached the quarter-finals of this competition in successive seasons (2011/12 and 2012/13), and will be seeking to improve upon exits at the round of 32 stage in the past two tournaments.

The Getingarna, who added the 2020/21 Svenska Cupen to their trophy cabinet in May, booked their place in this inaugural group stage courtesy of a 6-3 aggregate qualifying Round 2 defeat of reigning Norwegian Toppserien holders Vålerenga.

Lyon, the most successful outfit in the history of this competition, aim to get back to winning ways after their five-year reign as UEFA Women’s Champions League title holders was ended in the quarter-finals last term.

Les Lyonnaises were eliminated on away goals in the last eight last season, following a 2-2 aggregate draw against Division 1 Féminine rivals Paris (1-0 a, 1-2 h). Jean Luc Vasseur’s side held a two-goal advantage across the tie through a Wendie Renard penalty in the first leg and an early Catarina Macario strike in the return fixture, but Les Parisiennes hit back via Grace Geyoro’s strike and an own goal from the unfortunate Renard.

Lyon’s 14-year grip on their domestic championship was also ended by the team from the French capital in 2020/21, who claimed their first top-flight silverware by finishing a point clear of runners-up Les Fenottes.

OL coach Sonia Bompastor, who took over in April 2021, successfully guided her charges through Round 2 of qualifying with a pair of 2-1 successes, ensuring a 4-2 aggregate victory against Levante, who finished third in the Primera División in the 2020/21 campaign. The 2-1 first leg advantage on 1 September meant Lyon kept up their enviable record of having won their opening continental fixture in each of their 15 seasons in European competition.

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Ones to watch - Häcken

Stina Blackstenius

The 25-year-old striker began her top-flight career with Linköpings, lifting the Damallsvenskan trophy in 2016 along with two Svenska Cupens, having joined from lower-league Vadstena GIF in 2013.

The Swedish international spent two years in France with Montpellier (2017-19), where she finished as runners-up in Division 1 Féminine behind today’s opponents Lyon in her first campaign with La Paillade. She returned for a second spell with Linköpings in 2019, before joining Häcken in time for the 2020 season.

The forward’s six goals propelled Sweden to UEFA Women’s Under-19 Championship glory in Israel in 2015, and ensured she won the tournament’s Golden Boot prize. She was also part of the Swedish senior squad that finished third at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

She has already netted more league goals so far this term than she managed in 2020, and is the leading markswoman in the division so far this campaign with 14 goals having notched two hat-tricks along the way.

Pauline Hammarlund

The 27-year-old, who has been with the club since 2016, ended Häcken’s successful 2020 campaign as their top league scorer with 12 strikes. Only FC Rosengård’s Anna Anvegård (16) netted more in the division last term.

The striker scooped her first Swedish top-flight title back in 2012 with first senior side Tyresö FF.

The Swedish international represented her nation at UEFA Women’s EURO 2017 as they were knocked out at the quarter-final stage. However, she was part of the Under-19 side that were crowned European Champions in 2012 and won silver at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.

She played ice hockey in a boys’ team until the age of 15, when a concussion and broken arm forced her to concentrate on football.

Johanna Rytting Kaneryd

A midfielder who can also play at wing-back, she joined Häcken from FC Rosengård in December 2020. She has been among the goals for her new side, including one in the 3-2 Round 2 qualifying 2nd leg home win against Vålerenga on 8 September.

She spent 3 seasons with Rosengård but missed the entire 2018 campaign with a knee ligament injury sustained shortly after signing for the club from Djurgårdens IF.

As a 17-year-old, she was an unused substitute for Tyresö FF – her first club – in their 4-3 UEFA Women’s Champions League final defeat against Wolfsburg in Lisbon in May 2014.

Capped at various youth levels by Sweden, she made her senior international debut earlier this year.

Ones to watch - Lyon

New Women’s Champions League format explained

Signe Bruun

The 23-year-old joined Lyon from Paris, their scourge of last season, along with team-mate Christiane Endler this summer.

A two-time Danish league champion with first club Fortuna Hjørring, she notched seven goals as Les Parisiennes clinched their maiden Division 1 Féminine title last term, following an injury-hit 2019/20 campaign where she did not make a league appearance.

The Danish international opened her goalscoring account for Lyon in style, netting a hat-trick after coming on as a half-time substitute in the 6-0 victory against Dijon on 12 September.

The forward equalled a competition qualification best by scoring eight goals in the 11-0 UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship preliminary win against Kazakhstan in October 2014, matching the record set by the Netherlands’ Vivianne Miedema against the same opposition two years earlier.

Christiane Endler

Chile goalkeeper Endler joined Lyon in the summer after a successful four-year spell at Paris Saint-Germain.

Endler, 30, is widely regarded by many as one of the best goalkeepers in world football and her 13-year senior career to date has been laden with accolades and honours.
Endler, who has 69 international caps for Chile, captained her country at the Tokyo Olympics in the summer of 2021 and adds inspirational leadership as well as world class skills to this Lyon side.

Wendie Renard

The 31-year-old has been with Lyon since 2006, and on 12 September celebrated her 400th appearance for the club with a 6-0 success against Dijon, but has missed the last couple of league matches due to a minor injury sustained whilst on international duty.

The French international, who has won 126 caps for her country, has made more UEFA Women’s Champions League appearances than any other player and is five games away from racking up her century in the competition.

She is one of three players to have collected a winners’ medal in all seven of Lyon’s record number of triumphs in this competition, along with Sarah Bouhaddi and Eugénie Le Sommer.

The centre-back has appeared in all nine of Les Lyonnaises’ finals in this tournament, with only Bouhaddi able to match that feat.

Key stats

Top five goals of the 2020/21 UEFA Women's Champions League

• Häcken previously entered the competition as Göteborg - who reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Women’s Champions League in both 2012 and 2013

• Häcken earned their place in the 2021/22 UEFA Women’s Champions League group stage with a 6-3 aggregate win against Norwegian club Vålerenga. Swedish international striker Stina Blackstenius scored in both legs of the tie

• Häcken scored three goals in each of their previous two matches in the UEFA Women’s Champions League this season

• Lyon have lost just one of their last 34 UEFA Women’s Champions League matches

• Lyon have scored in 26 successive UEFA Women’s Champions League matches. The last time they failed to score in the competition was in April 2018 vs Man. City (D 0-0)

• Lyon have not conceded a goal in their previous three away UEFA Women’s Champions League matches in Sweden (0-0, 0-0, 3-0)

• Lyon defeated FC Rosengård 3-0 in their last UEFA Women’s Champions League fixture in Sweden (2013 quarter-final, second leg)

• Lyon are the only team to have played more than 100 matches in the UEFA Women’s Champions League, this is their 113th game in the competition

• Lyon’s Ada Hegerberg, back in training after a long-term injury, is the all-time highest goalscorer in UEFA Women's Champions League history with 53 goals

• Lyon’s Wendie Renard has made more appearances than any other player in the UEFA Women's Champions League, if she plays here, it will be her 96th appearance

Group stage: all you need to know