Today, Lyon and PSG will face off in Cardiff for the chance to be crowned European champions in the first all-French Women’s Champions League final.
While Lyon are UWCL final veterans, winning three of their five past total appearances and making six total appearances in eight years, PSG has only made one other appearance in their five years in the competition: a 2-1 loss to Frankfurt in 2015. The following year, last year, they went out to none other than Lyon in the semifinal — and Lyon would go on to win the final against Wolfsburg to raise their 3rd trophy.
Securing a fourth this year would tie Lyon with Frankfurt for the most amount of UCL titles, an outcome that is more than likely. They’ve already won the Division 1 Feminine for the 11th year in a row, finishing the season with 63 points and an outrageous +97 goal difference (103 goals for and only 6 against). They only lost one game all season, a slim 1-0 loss, in December of 2016 — to PSG.
However, Lyon got their revenge twice over in May. On the 13th they triumphed over PSG 3-0 in the penultimate league match, and then Lyon dug in the knife just 6 days later with a victory over them in the Coupe de France final. Although it was a 1-1 stalemate after regular and extra time, Lyon won it for a record 6th-straight (9th total) time 7-6 on penalties.
Considering the Double they already hold so far this season, Lyon are obviously strong favorites to win the final and secure the treble — for the second year in a row. However, PSG holding them out until penalties in the Coupe de France just two weeks ago should spark some optimism among their fans. In both league and cup competitions, PSG has consistently been the one thorn in Lyon’s side.
And they’ll need to be again today, for the sake of their next campaign. Because PSG finished third in the French league, a victory today is their only chance for Champions League qualification again next year. Otherwise, they’ll miss out on the competition for the first time since the 2010/11 season.
Whether Lyon nabs their fourth trophy or PSG their first, this final is a big win for women everywhere; not simply because the match displays the best women’s football in the domestic world but also because it marks the beginning of UEFA’s #WePlayStrong campaign.
Football’s governing bodies can certainly be criticized for their ambivalence toward or even neglect of the women’s game — just look at the 2015 Women’s World Cup being played on turf. But since a recent study of theirs proved that women’s football has a hugely positive impact on girls’ confidence, UEFA has stepped up and committed to making football the “number one participation sport for girls and women in Europe by 2022.”
Lyon’s Morgan and Camille Abily and PSG’s Laura Georges and Véronica Boquete are among the supporters of the campaign, committed to aspiring the next generation of footballing girls to grow up to be just as talented, dominant, and awe-inspiring as them.