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PREVIEW | Wolfsburg vs Lyon: Europe’s top two face off in UEFA Women’s Champions League final

The UEFA Women’s Champions League comes to a close on Sunday when VfL Wolfsburg face Olympique Lyon at Anoeta Stadium in San Sebastian.

Lyon will be looking to pick up their fifth UWCL title in as many years, the last team to win the competition who weren’t the French giants being 1.FFC Frankfurt back in 2015.

The Wölfinnen have fallen at the final hurdle to Lyon twice. The previous time they met, in Kyiv in 2018, the match was scoreless after ninety minutes and it went to extra time. Wolfsburg quickly netted the opener three minutes into the first half, but Pernille Harder’s goal was dwarfed by the three in five minutes from Amandine Henry, Eugenie Le Sommer and Ada Hegerberg. Her final game for Lyon, midfielder Camille Abily ended her footballing career perfectly with a 116th-minute goal to seal the victory.

After edging past SGS Essen on penalties in the final of the DFB Pokal and cruising to the top of the Frauen-Bundesliga this year, Stephan Lerch’s side will be looking to pick up their first treble since the 2012/13 campaign and go the entire season unbeaten. In fact, the Wolves’ last loss in any match came against Lyon back in March of 2019.

A record fourth final meeting in eight years, the top two sides in European women’s football face on Sunday, and it is bound to be an incredible game.

Wolfsburg captain Alex Popp made her side’s views clear when speaking to UEFA.com ahead of the game, with their aim to knock Lyon off their perch as the number one side in Europe: “They’re the number one in Europe and we obviously want to put a stop to that. Lyon have very good attacking quality, they’re very flexible, especially with the playmakers in midfield, Dzsenifer Marozsán and Amandine Henry, who really lead the play.

“We’ve become a lot more consistent in our performances, which you could see in the past years in the Bundesliga as well as in the cup, where we’ve always produced very high quality. This season as well: I don’t think we’ve had a season as strong as this year. And that gives us the confidence to go again in the Champions League final. We stated at the start of the year that our target was to win the Champions League.”

Team news

Wolfsburg are not expected to make any changes from the side which knocked out FC Barcelona in the semi-finals, with a full side to select from.

Lyon, however, have a number of players who will be absent from the match. Nikita Parris picked up two yellow cards in the semi-final against PSG and will likely be replaced by fellow England international Jodie Taylor. Griedge Mbock Bathy and Jessica Silva are both ruled out from the game due to achilles injuries, while Ada Hegerberg and Amandine Henry are also both likely not to feature.

Predicted lineups

Wolfsburg: Abt – Doorsoun-Khajeh, Hendrich, Janssen, Wedemeyer – Popp, Engen – Rolfö, Harder, Huth – Pajor

Lyon: Bouhaddi – Bronze, Buchanan, Renard, Bacha – Gunnarsdóttir, Kumagai – Cascarino, Marozsán, Majri – Taylor

Ones to watch

Pernille Harder – The Danish international is undoubtedly one of the best footballers in the world and is currently only one goal behind Vivianne Miedema in the race for this year’s UWCL golden boot. In only 22 Frauen-Bundesliga games, she netted 27 goals, spearheading Wolfsburg’s charge for their fourth league title in a row. If there is anybody who is going to provide a threat in front of goal for Wolfsburg, it’s Harder.

Dominique Janssen – After joining the Wolves last summer from Arsenal, Janssen (formerly Bloodworth) has been an impressive part of the side’s back line. Wolfsburg have only conceded one goal in this year’s tournament, a wonder-strike from Glasgow City’s Lauren Wade, and Janssen has played a crucial role in that record, an extremely reliable part of Wolfsburg’s back four. As well as in defence, Janssen has proved effective from free-kicks both with the Wolves this year and during her spell with Arsenal.

Wendie Renard – Standing at 6ft2in, the defender is not only solid at the back, she poses a threat from set-pieces. Renard’s goal against PSG to send Lyon into the final was her 103rd of her career, an incredibly impressive feat for any central defender. She has scored the third-highest number of goals in this year’s competition and the Lyon captain will be looking to lift the trophy for a seventh time on Sunday.

Dzsenifer Marozsán – The 28-year-old Budapest-born German international will be looking to pick up her fourth-straight UWCL title when she takes to the pitch at the Anoeta Stadium on Sunday. Marozsán was impressive in this year’s D1 Féminine, where Lyon once again won the division, joint top scorer with ten goals and topping the assist charts with thirteen.

Lena Oberdorf – The 18-year-old may not have started a game yet for Wolfsburg, but Sunday’s game is an opportunity for her to make her name to viewers across the world. The midfielder joined from SGS Essen this summer and has already become a regular member of Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s German national team. Oberdorf is one of the brightest stars in the women’s game at the moment and could be one to watch if she features in the match.

Adam Millington

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