KIEV, May 23, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Before Real Madrid try to get their hands on a third straight Champions League crown this week, Lyon have the chance to achieve the same feat in the women’s showpiece.
The dominant French club face German outfit Wolfsburg in Kiev on Thursday (1600 GMT) at the Valeriy Lobanovskiy stadium, a short walk across the centre of the Ukrainian capital from where Real Madrid and Liverpool will go head to head on Saturday.
The size of the crowd and the prize money may not be the same — UEFA offer a bonus payment of just 250,000 euros ($294,000) to the winner. In comparison, the side that emerges victorious in the men’s competition stand to collect up to 57 million euros in total before substantial sums related to shares of television income are added on.
But Lyon and Wolfsburg are worthy finalists for the women’s game.
They torpedoed the hopes of leading English sides to make it Kiev, with Lyon edging out Manchester City in the last four with a goal from England star Lucy Bronze, while Wolfsburg overcame Chelsea.
The last 10 champions have been either French or German, with Wolfsburg themselves triumphing in 2013 — when they beat Lyon — and 2014.
The extent to which Lyon reign supreme at home and abroad is remarkable — they have just won a 12th consecutive French title, while they have won four Champions League titles this decade.
No club has ever won five, so they are hoping to make history by beating a side they already defeated in the 2016 final.
“I spent 10 years in the Bundesliga and they are a club I know well,” said Lyon’s German midfielder Dzsenifer Marozsan, freshly named France’s player of the year.
“Physically they are very strong. But I think Wolfsburg might also have problems because our team is equally incredible.”
Lyon’s 2016 triumph came on penalties, despite the prolific Norwegian Ada Hegerberg missing their first spot-kick.
The French side also emerged victorious when they met in the quarter-finals last season, en route to another penalty shoot-out win in the final, against Paris Saint-Germain.
Wolfsburg are the German champions though, and are fresh from beating Bayern Munich on penalties in the German Cup final.
And they have a Scandinavian star of their own to look out for up front in Denmark’s Pernille Harder, the Bundesliga’s leading scorer.
“Pernille is one of the most complete attacking players in the women’s game at the moment,” warned Wolfsburg’s sporting director Ralf Kellermann. “She is a world-class player.”