Barcelona Femení vs. Olympique Lyonnais Féminin
UEFA Champions League Final – Women
21st May 2022 – 19:00 KO
The male game has come a long way since the 1985 European Cup Final was played at a crumbling Heysel Stadium in Bruxelles. And in the interests of equality, so the same progress for the ladies.
The first ever final of the Women’s Champions League took place at the old Waldstadion of Eintracht Frankfurt in 2001. But that was prior to its developement into the modern venue we know today and which was used for the 2006 World Cup. Essentially the Waldstadion back then looked like the Heysel did in 1985 – an open bowl in need of development.
That Frankfurt final was competed by two of the earliest forerunners in women’s football – 1.FFC Frankfurt (now Eintracht Frankfurt) and Umeå IK from Sweden. Two countries who dominated the early years of the female game.
Both of these clubs have though pretty much disappeared from the landscape of the female game which says a lot for how quickly things have developed. And, with the arrival of the likes of Barcelona, Manchester City and Lyon – effectively the professional ‘female arm’ of the historic male club – its more than likely that the likes of Umeå IK will never play in a final ever again.
Barcelona found a way to Turin in more than convincing style; in reality they were simply unstoppable. The group stage of the tournament was negotiated by scoring 24 goals with only one goal conceeded in the home tie against Arsenal.
In the quarter-finals Real Madrid were destroyed 8-3 over two legs and then 5 goals were scored against the Germans from Wolfsburg in the semi-final. Of those goals Spanish striker Alexia Putellas got 10 of the total. Her slow, somewhat sauntering skillful style combined with a lethal left foot saw Barcelona storm again into the final of a competition that had won by 4-0 in 2021.
Most of the talk in Spanish media circles beforehand was around Barcelona attaining superpower status much like the team of Neymar and Messi did. Standing in the way of a second final win were the historically powerful Lyon who had been equally free scoring if less convincing during the knockout rounds. Domestic rivals PSG were eventually overcome in a close semi final in part thanks to the dominant goalkeeping of Endler but also the class and goals of Hegerberg and Macario.
With Europe in the midst of a heatwave it was a warm night in Turin as the fans gathered. The festivities opened in the usual UEFA style – bland, sponsor strewn and money led but the surrounds were benefitting of such a showcase.
The start of the final was something else – the respective captain’s Alexia Putellas and Wendie Renard had barely completed the pre-match formalities when Amandine Henry picked the call up and crashed a 35 yard strike into the top corner.
On 23 minutes it was 2-0 to Lyon with Hegerberg heading home inside the penalty area from a cross from Bacha. The cross left Barcelona goalkeeper Panos in a no-mans land and Hegerberg pulled away from Leon to head into the net.
It was at this point that Barcelona started to fall apart; unsurprising given the manner in which they stormed to the final. Defensively they were being overrun and looked incapable of stopping the French momentum. With Lyon looking like they may score at every opportunity exactly that happened; Macario easily made it 3-0 to Lyon thanks to intricate clever play from Hegerberg.
With half time in sight Barcelona were thrown a lifeline by the competition’s top scorer Putellas. The goal was made by the dangerous Norwegian Graham Hansen, who swung over a fairly standard cross which was volleyed emphatically and crisply past Christiane Endler.
Lyon continued to look dangerous as the second half got going.
The angled controlled passes of Lyon were in constrast to the often laboured approach if technically astute direction of Barcelona. Then on 60 minutes a piece of magic from Patri saw her hit the bar with Endler off her line; that goal would have really brought Barca back into things.
But even with Lieke Martens and Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic making a bow on the lush Turin pitch (the latter replacing the disappointing Mariona Caldentey) the Spanish could not find a way past Endler.
Lyon came into this game as big underdogs; an unusual title for them probabaly given the glorious history that they have in this competition. Against an apparently unstoppable Barcelona side – who had run rings around allcomers – on the way to the final it was the experience of the French that took them over the winning line.
Barcelona never gave up but its likely there will be many more chapters in the burgeoning Lyon versus Barcelona rivalry over the next five years. Much like the Real and Liverpool dominance in the men’s game the finalists are far too strong to miss out on another final.
Alexia Putellas impressed immensely for Barcelona grabbing what was another Champions League final goal. There is a lack of world class left footed talent in the overall landscape of the women’s game but the Barcelona captain is strong and powerful. A rolls royce of a player her finish in this game was only a brief indication of her quality and calibre.
Overall the Catalans were second best in this showpiece final, which feels as unusual to say for the Barcelona brand. Only the history and experience of Lyon stopped the Barcelona side clinching a second Champions League title.
Barcelona (4-3-3) Panos; Torrejon, Paredes, Leon, Rolfo; Bonmati, Patri, Putellas (goal); Graham Hansen, Hermoso, Caldentey. Substitutes: Font, Meritxell Munoz, Serrano, Pina, Ouahabi, Pereira, Crnogorcevic, Oshoala, Martens, Syrstad Engen.
Lyon (4-3-3) Endler; Carpenter, Renard, Mbock Bathy, Bacha; Horan, Henry (Goal), Macario (goal); Cascarino, Hegerberg (goal), Malard. Substitutes: Bouhaddi, Holmgren, Morroni, Gunnarsdottir, Le Sommer, Egurrola, Van De Donk, Sombath, Laurent, Buchanan, Cayman, Benyahia.
Referee Lina Lehtovaara (Finland).