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Women's Champions League final: Can Barcelona finally overcome Lyon?

Florencia Tan Jun - UEFA / UEFA / Getty

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Record eight-time winners Lyon face holders Barcelona in a tantalising Champions League final on Saturday in Bilbao, pitting the established elite against the new women's football powerhouse.

After Lyon dominated the competition for the better part of a decade, Barcelona emerged to shake up the status quo, although they have never overcome the French side.

The Catalans are out for revenge after 2019 and 2022 final defeats by Lyon, with Sonia Bompastor's team aiming to reclaim the throne which was theirs for so long and put Barca back in their place.

The Spanish giants have won the competition twice in three seasons and if they end their hoodoo against Lyon will establish themselves as the dominant force in the modern game.

Lyon were four goals up against Barcelona within 30 minutes in their 4-1 triumph in the 2019 final and three to the good by 33 minutes in the 2022 final, which they won 3-1.

Barcelona also fell two goals behind in last season's final, although they bounced back to beat Wolfsburg 3-2.

"We cannot start like we did the last times -- if you do then you're rowing against it," saidmidfielder Patri Guijarro, who netted twice against the German side.

Lyon sealed their 17th French league title in 18 seasons last weekend, also winning the country's Champions trophy.

Barcelona are hoping to complete a remarkable quadruple at San Mames, following Liga F, Copa de la Reina and Spanish Super Cup triumphs.

Victory would be a perfect last hurrah for both coaches, with Bompastor poised to replace Emma Hayes at Chelsea, while Barca coach Jonatan Giraldez is taking over US NWSL side Washington Spirit.

Lyon are unbeaten in the competition this season, while Barcelona fell 1-0 at home against Chelsea in the semi-final first leg.

"We know that all our rivals want to bring Olympique Lyonnais down a peg or two, so they're always very motivated," said Bompastor.

"While we have a lot of respect for this Barcelona team, we know that with our experience and our qualities, we are capable of winning that match."

Lyon have all-time top women's Champions League goalscorer Ada Hegerberg in their ranks, along with veteran stars including Wendie Renard, who has played in all 10 finals Lyon have reached.

'The two most talented teams'

Barcelona defender Lucy Bronze won the Champions League three times with Lyon between 2018-2020, and hailed the experienced French team's mindset.

"Ultimately the core of the team is the same... they still have that mentality," said Bronze.

"A team like Lyon, for years and years they will always carry that mentality of wanting to be European champions... I know that from being there."

Bronze said that determination was a key factor in Lyon and recently Barcelona's success.

"That is probably why it has only been Lyon and Barca in recent history getting over the line and winning the trophy," continued Bronze.

"The two most talented teams in Europe in the last 10 years and the two with the mentality to want to win and to be hungry to win."

Bronze said over the last few years Barcelona have gained the experience they need to finally turn the tables on the French giants.

"We know we are good enough to beat them, Barca have always had enough talent to match Lyon, Lyon probably just had more experience in the past," she explained.

"That's changed a little now, two Champions League (triumphs), four finals for this team, a lot of World Cup winners as well."

Barcelona boast Ballon d'Or winner Aitana Bonmati and two-time recipient Alexia Putellas, both of whom lifted the World Cup with Spain last year.

With Caroline Graham Hansen in stunning form and talent littered through the team, Barcelona supporters will believe they can finally defeat Lyon.

While the French side defeated Paris Saint-Germain to claim the title in a half-empty stadium, Barcelona are heavily backed and will have well over 10,000 supporters in Bilbao for the sell-out clash.

"It motivates us so much that so many people want to come, it's something beautiful, special, and I hope we can give them joy," said Guijarro.

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