UEFA Women’s Champions League: European powerhouse Lyon’s grip on title is facing its biggest challenge


Since 2011, the French membership has been concerned in 9 Champions League finals, successful the competitors seven occasions.

Anita Asante, who at present performs for Aston Villa within the Women’s Super League (WSL) and works as a pundit for the UEFA Women’s Champions League (UWCL), explains how Lyon’s potential to repeatedly herald new expertise has been key to success.

Rivalry

Former Arsenal, Chelsea and England participant Asante says that whereas the competitors is lots nearer this yr, the likes of Chelsea, Barcelona and Manchester City can have a troublesome process to knock Lyon off its pedestal.

“Lyon have the experience, they have the winning mentality, they’ve been there before, they’ve dealt with the pressure,” she says.

“It’s going to take a lot and a special performance from any side to really dethrone them.”

First, Lyon has to barter a tricky-looking quarterfinal in opposition to French rival Paris Saint-Germain.

PSG at present leads the French league desk by one level over Lyon having handed its rival a primary league loss in 80 matches within the fall of 2020.

PSG is additionally the one crew to have overwhelmed Lyon to this point this season.

“It’s a strong rivalry, two top French sides and lots of players that play on the national team as well for both teams, and they [PSG] will know that they have sort of fallen short of them when they played Lyon, both domestically in the league and within Europe,” says Asante.

“Now they have a greater chance than ever, [and will be] especially confident as well as having beaten them this season so far.”

PSG has needed to deal with a current outbreak of coronavirus instances inside the crew, which brought about its final 16 second leg match in opposition to Sparta Prague to be canceled.

The membership needed to forfeit — which means an automated 3-Zero loss — however progressed with a 5-Three combination victory having gained the primary leg 5-0.

“I think they’re professionals having been here before, and part of being at the top level of the game is riding obstacles and challenges that aren’t always in your control,” provides Asante.

“You can’t account for those things. It might hinder some of the performance or mentality, but ultimately, I think they’ll just have their eyes on the prize.”

The quarterfinal first leg matches are scheduled for Wednesday, March 24, with the second legs on March 31 and April 1.

Whichever aspect advances to the semifinals can have its work minimize out as one other contender awaits — both Manchester City or Barcelona.

The Catalan crew made the finals of the UWCL in 2019, finally dropping to Lyon 4-1, and since then has continued to ascertain itself as a contender on the European stage.

Paris Saint-Germain and Lyon lead the way in the top tier of women's football in France.

Bridging the hole

Barcelona has scored 99 objectives and conceded simply three — and that is in solely 20 video games this season. Meanwhile, Manchester City has gained 11 consecutive league matches and is exhibiting no signal of slowing down.

City is one of many golf equipment within the WSL that has had its squads bolstered by American expertise coming to play in England this season, with the likes of Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis becoming a member of.

“Lavelle and Mewis are winners. They’re proven winners for their national team and that’s the gold standard, and that’s what everyone else is chasing, especially on the national team level,” says Asante.

Lavelle defined when she arrived in England that the UWCL was the competitors she was actually trying ahead to taking part in in.

“I grew up watching Champions League and I feel like I never thought it was a possibility that I could be competing in Champions League myself,” stated Lavelle in an interview with CNN Sport’s Amanda Davies.

“So it’s really cool to have this opportunity to do that.”

The WSL’s success this yr with new expertise has led to elevated curiosity within the league, with Sky Sports and the BBC saying a record-breaking deal to broadcast matches for the 2021-2022 season.

Anita Asante of Aston Villa says it will take a "special performance" to dethrone Lyon.

Opportunity

On the opposite aspect of the competitors, final yr’s finalist Wolfsburg will take on reigning WSL champion and present league chief Chelsea.

Wolfsburg’s run to the ultimate final yr was pushed largely by its attacking presence with gamers equivalent to Pernille Harder, who moved to Chelsea for a document $413,000 charge on the finish of final season.

Recently, the London-based membership has been dominating English soccer and has already gained one trophy this season, the FA Continental League Cup.

“I think that Chelsea have a great depth throughout the squad in multiple positions,” explains Asante, who performed for Chelsea from 2008-2009 and once more from 2018-2020.

“The attacking threat in particular is going to be a concern of any team that’s going to meet them, especially in the sort of form that Fran Kirby is in.”

Chelsea has been constructing its crew over the higher a part of the final decade with the purpose of successful the Champions League. However, a WSL crew hasn’t gained the title since Arsenal in 2007.

“This is a club that’s been building for this moment over the years and they’ve got into a prominent position where they have got all the little pieces together now,” provides Asante, reflecting on Chelsea’s growth.

“But more importantly, I think there’s an actual winning belief that they can go on and win all the trophies domestically as well as Europe.”

English side Chelsea will be a threat in Europe this season, following domestic success.

In a current interview with Forbes, Chelsea proprietor Roman Abramovich spoke of the assist golf equipment ought to give their ladies’s groups.

The ladies’s crew, Abramovich says, is “a critical part of Chelsea and shapes who we are as a club. I see no reason why clubs wouldn’t want to support women’s football and provide the best possible opportunity for them to succeed.

“For me, this is each in regards to the precept, however, additionally, ladies’s soccer has large potential. If ladies’s soccer acquired the identical stage as assist as males’s soccer, the game would clearly be equally profitable on the enterprise aspect.

“And I think investment pays off. I think their success demonstrates what can be achieved when you dedicate resources and the right leadership. [Manager] Emma Hayes has been remarkable in her work with the team.”

The closing quarterfinal might be performed between German league chief Bayern Munich and Swedish membership FC Rosengard.

Bayern has been spectacular within the league this season because it bids to progress to solely its second ever UWCL semifinal.

While German golf equipment have a wealthy historical past within the UWCL, successful 9 titles since 2002, Bayern has by no means progressed to the ultimate.



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