We highlight four players who could make the difference in Eindhoven.
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We look at four players who could star at the UEFA Women's Champions League final between Barcelona and Wolfsburg on 3 June in Eindhoven.
Aitana Bonmatí (Barcelona)
There has never been any doubt about the star quality of Bonmatí; after all, she was player of the match when Barcelona beat Chelsea 4-0 in the 2021 final. But perhaps only with the absence for most of this season of Alexia Putellas has Bonmatí's huge value to Barcelona become quite so explicit.
Not just with her creativity and attacking prowess, though her 12 direct goal contributions (scoring five and providing seven assists) leads the Champions League, but also as an all-round midfield presence, helping defend and showing a passing range and vision which is almost unmatched. And only five players (four from Arsenal) have covered more ground than Bonmatí's 42.6km over the Champions League season.
Ewa Pajor (Wolfsburg)
Bonmatí's seven assists leads the way in the competition proper but when it comes to goals, Pajor is way out in front on eight, three clear of anyone else. The Poland striker has well over 200 career goals at the age of 26 and is her country's all-time top scorer despite more than her fair share of serious injuries, and Pajor's form this season when having a clear run is proof that when unleashed there are few more clinical players.
That finishing sixth sense will be crucial if Wolfsburg find possession limited against Barcelona. A scorer in multiple German Cup finals, Pajor is not afraid of a big occasion, and is unlikely to shy away when the chance comes to add a winner's medal to her likely Top Scorer honour.
Alex Popp (Wolfsburg)
Popp's European pedigree is hardly in doubt. Already a winner of three titles, with Duisburg in 2008/09 and Wolfsburg in 2012/13 and 2013/14, she has scored in three finals (2014, 2016 and 2020), and only Wendie Renard has played more games in this competition than Popp's 94.
But it is not just what she has done in the past, it is what Popp is still achieving this season. Her goals against Paris Saint-Germain in the quarter-finals and Arsenal in the last four proved crucial to Wolfsburg making it to Eindhoven. Domestically she finished as Bundesliga top scorer for the first time in her 15-year top-flight career. Popp, who has played in defence, midfield and up front through her career, gives Tommy Stroot a variety of options when deciding how to deploy his captain.
Just as important is Popp's inspirational leadership; witness how she almost single-handedly dragged Wolfsburg back into the 2020 final against Lyon, and her mere talismanic presence after return from injury in that second leg at Arsenal might have been the x-factor that dragged her club through the tightest of ties.
Keira Walsh (Barcelona)
Around a year ago, Walsh had plenty of domestic honours to her name with Manchester City, and was an England regular, but not widely recognised in the game's stratosphere alongside, say, Bonmatí and Popp. Now, few would leave the central midfielder out of such a discussion, and Walsh is one step from adding a European club title to the national-team honour she claimed at Wembley last July (her England and Barcelona colleague Lucy Bronze having already tasted Champions League success with Lyon).
Barcelona paid City what was reported to be a world-record fee in September to secure Walsh and her performances this season have made it clear why. It would take a special talent to improve the existing Barcelona squad with Bonmatí and Patri Guijarro already in that midfield, but Walsh's childhood studies of Sergio Busquets have helped make her a player with similar on-pitch influence as the departing Blaugrana legend. Would Lyon have been able to overrun the Barcelona midfield early on in Turin last year had Walsh been there the neutralise Amandine Henry and Co?