Meeting of equals in heavyweight clash
This year the UEFA Women's Champions League final pits together two familiar foes, as Olympique Lyon and VfL Wolfsburg meet in a replay of the 2013 title-decider. The Wolfinnen narrowly won 1-0 on that occasion to dash Lyon's hopes of sealing a third successive continental crown.
The final *Thursday 26 May 2016 (18:00 CEST)* VfL Wolfsburg-Olympique Lyon Stadio Citta del Tricolore – Reggio Emilia
Lyon have dominated France's Division 1 Feminine for several years and earned a tenth consecutive league title in the season just gone. They did so with a tally of 115 goals in 22 games, making them France's most prolific side; by contrast Paris Saint-Germain found the net 75 times in the same number of matches. Coach Gerard Precheur's charges are also the team to beat in the domestic cup and recently lifted the trophy for a fifth straight year, and for the eighth time in total. In the UEFA Champions League, however, they are not yet the most dominant side, with 1. FFC Frankfurt having made six final appearances to date, while Lyon are set for their fifth.
Wolfsburg have finished as runners-up to Bayern Munich in the German Frauen Bundesliga for the last two years, sealing a Champions League berth each time. Nevertheless, like Lyon, Ralf Kellermann's side travel to Italy as domestic cup holders after securing the DFB Cup with a confidence-boosting display just five days ahead of the continental decider. Lyon rounded off their league campaign with a draw.
In the spotlight Who will lift the coveted Champions League trophy aloft this time, Wolfsburg or Lyon? Regardless of the outcome, history will be made in women's football. The victors will become the first club to win the title for a third time since the present competition format was introduced in 2009/10 .
Players to watch Germany international Alexandra Popp may only be 25 but she already has a bulging trophy cabinet, thanks to her contributions both in the junior national teams and at club level. In 2008 she won the Women's European Championship with the U-17s, and two years later she triumphed in the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup on home turf. Even back then the left-footed attacker's individual quality set her apart. In 2009 she won the continent's premier club competition with Duisburg, before doing so again with Wolfsburg in 2013 and 2014. On Thursday attention will be focused on the 2014 Player of the Year, who could win the title for a fourth time - a feat previously achieved by only a few players.
For Lyon, Amandine Henry is the standout individual. She is currently among the best players in France and also one of the team's leaders. The midfielder perfectly symbolises the balance in the Lyon side, which boasts equally impressive attacking and defensive units. Henry has been at the club for nine years but the final against Wolfsburg will be her last for the French champions, as she has agreed a move to Portland Thorns in the USA. It will therefore be a symbolic match for the 26-year-old, who won the adidas Silver Ball at the FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015™, and will be looking to sign off with another major title.
Did you know? The Women's Champions League final has predominantly been a Franco-German affair. Since the competition's introduction, six of the last seven finals have been contested between teams from those countries.
The stat 70 - This match will be Lyon's 70th on the European stage. Only Arsenal (79) and Frankfurt (78) have played more.
What they said "It's a 50-50 match. Wolfsburg have just as many good players as Lyon do. It'll come down to the teams' attitudes. I hope Lyon aren't too self-confident because then it'll be very tough. We're all rooting for Wolfsburg and hope that they win. I hope my players in the national team do well, that'd give me a good feeling." Silvia Neid, Germany's women's national team coach ** "It's a chance for revenge for the game three years ago and it's also about dominance in European women's football. You can't play with such high pressure. All I want is for the game to be the most important thing and for the players to just be able to play without feeling stressed. That's what I'm concentrating on." Gerard Precheur, Olympique Lyon coach**