Holders Barcelona meet seven-time champions Lyon in Turin on 21 May: some themes to watch.
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UEFA Women's Champions League holders Barcelona play record seven-time winners Lyon in the 2022 final at 19:00 CET on Saturday 21 May at Turin's Juventus Stadium.
We pick out some themes to watch.
- What channel is the Women's Champions League final on?
- Women's Champions League final guide: Teams, kick-off time, stats
Lyon adapt to underdog role
Lyon have become the first team to reach ten UEFA women's club finals, all in the space of 13 seasons, but in reaching double figures they face a situation they never really experienced when their tally was in single digits. Even when they took on, and lost on penalties to, previous winners Turbine Potsdam in Getafe in 2010, final debutants Lyon were certainly not outsiders, despite being the first French team to get that far and facing a club from, at the time, the dominant nation. That OL had probably the better of the regulation time play proved that.
In every final after that, Lyon began either slight or warm favourites, particularly after their comfortable defeats of Potsdam in 2011 and then record three-time champions Frankfurt the next year. Wolfsburg beating Lyon in 2013 was a shock; Barcelona being 4-0 down at half-time in the 2019 decider was unusual, but less of a surprise than had OL been behind.
This time, however, Barcelona begin as the team to beat, even if their perfect season was ended in the semi-final second leg at Wolfsburg. In fact, they have barely broken stride since doing to Chelsea last year what Lyon did to them in 2019. OL, however, were given a decent test by Levante in Round 2, lost at Bayern in the group stage, needed to overturn a first-leg deficit against Juventus in the quarter-final and were pushed all the way by Paris Saint-Germain in the semis.
A team with Lyon's experience and class, especially bolstered since Ada Hegerberg's inspiring return from serious injury, are a match for anyone: maybe never again will a squad be assembled with so much experience of winning on this stage. But the fact remains that the last time Barcelona lost over 90 minutes when it really mattered was the one-off behind-closed-doors 2020 UEFA Women's Champions League semi-final against Wolfsburg. And the last time in front of fans? Lyon in Budapest three years ago.
Barcelona vs Lyon: previous meetings
2018/19 final: Lyon 4-1 Barcelona (Budapest)
2017/18 quarter-finals: Barcelona 1-3agg Lyon (first leg 0-1, second leg 1-2)
First named team at home in opening game of two-legged ties
Who will take star billing?
Many of the biggest stars in the women's football galaxy could be on the pitch in Turin, including past winners of the Player of the Final award like Aitana Bonmatí, Amandine Henry and Delphine Cascarino, and past competition positional laureates like Wendie Renard, Irene Paredes and Jenni Hermoso, not to mention Catarina Macario, Caroline Graham Hansen and Lieke Martens.
But perhaps the spotlight will shine most brightly on Alexia Putellas and Ada Hegerberg. Alexia, the reigning holder of the key individual women's player awards including UEFA's, is the current queen of the game, her all-round attacking, wing and midfield attributes central to Barcelona's success, and leads the race to finish competition Top Scorer.
However, she has some way to go to catch the tournament's all-time 58-goal leading scorer Hegerberg, whose knack of finding the net for Lyon in Europe's biggest games did not desert her in her lengthy absence from January 2020 to autumn 2021. Her first-half treble against Barcelona in 2019 remains the only hat-trick in a one-off UEFA Women's Champions League final. For now.
Safe hands on the trophy
Sarah Bouhaddi could in theory make her tenth final appearance alongside Renard. More likely, though, is that Christiane Endler will keep goal for Lyon, as she has done when fit all season, even since Bouhaddi's return from an autumn OL Reign loan.
At some point Lyon knew a successor would be needed for Bouhaddi, and Endler's arrival from Paris Saint-Germain last summer signalled that she was the choice. Her brilliance for Chile in the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup and 2021 Olympics underlined that, and even more pertinently, Endler's displays as Paris dethroned Lyon in Europe and France last season. It is perhaps no surprise that Lyon have again eclipsed Paris since Endler's switch.
But in the other goal will be another contender for the world's number one No1, Sandra Paños. She was named UEFA Women's Champions League Goalkeeper of the Season in 2020/21 in helping Barcelona to glory and for many years the Spain custodian has been generally flawless for club and country, producing several long runs of clean sheets.
One of the two keepers could well prove the game's key player, especially if for the fourth time in Lyon's ten finals, it goes to penalties.