Barcelona Femeni hope third time's a charm against Lyon

The Catalan side face the eight-time champions in the Champions League final
Arsenal FC v Everton FC - Premier League
Arsenal FC v Everton FC - Premier League / Catherine Ivill - AMA/GettyImages

Reaching a Champions League final has become something Barcelona Femeni has done often in their recent history. Saturday will mark their fourth final a row and fifth in the last six years.

Opposing the Catalan side is the team with the most Women's Champions Leagues title in Lyon who have won the competition eight times.

An Lyon side Barcelona have faced in a final twice, losing on both occasions -- 4-0 in 2019 and 3-1 in 2022.

"We've matured hugely and learned over the years, particularly from the finals we lost," Barcelona's Caroline Graham Hansen said. "So we're happy to be back with another chance to win one and to show how we've changed and toughened up."

Of the two final defeats, the one in 2022 particularly stung given the team went into it with a confidence they could get over that hump and measure up against arguably the best side in the world. But everything that could go wrong did go wrong in that final, leaving a bitter taste in their mouth.

They avenged that defeat by beating Wolfsburg in last year's final. But that thorn, or unfinished business, in their side of not having beaten Lyon sticks with them.

One of the things that have marked the last two finals for Barcelona is they've gone down early. Against Lyon, they were unable to overcome that but against Wolfsburg, they were able to erase a two-goal deficit. That experience, Aitana Bonmati believes, is what makes the Barcelona side in 2022 different than the one from this year.

"We've gone behind in finals and overcome them and that's true about this season's semifinal against Chelsea," Bonmatí said, "And I agree with Caro [Graham Hansen] that we have learned from all that. But let's be honest - it's much better not to concede early or to go behind. However, we really do have a winning mentality in this squad."

Those first 15-20 minutes are going to be important for Barcelona. It'll give them enough time to their foot in the game and to scout Lyon. The last two times out, they've gone behind in the opening minutes; something they'll look to avoid.

Another difference from the last time these two sides met is Barcelona arrive with a more fit squad. Injuries hampered them in the final last time but everyone, aside from Mapi Leon who traveled the team and could get the medical green light and be on the bench, is available for manager Jonatan Giráldez.

"We cannot wait for the final. We've had a fantastic season, playing great football, and the recent weeks have seen us on a great dynamic, with almost everyone available," Giráldez said.

"We already have three trophies won so to have the chance to add another Champions League in this fantastic stadium means we can try to show we are still the best team in Europe."

Something that could tip things to Barcelona's favor is the atmosphere at the San Mamés. With the final held in Bilbao, a large contingent of Barcelona supporters reserved their seat well before the final. It is expected that around 40,000 Barcelona supporters will be in attendance, making it almost a home game for the Catalan side.

As the team with the most European titles, however, Lyon have every intention on raining on the Catalan's parade. As mentioned, they've come out on top the last two times they've faced and despite some hiccups, they know how to win a final and against Barcelona.

In Europe, Lyon has become Barcelona's nemesis and Barcelona will look to slay the dragon, so to speak.

Should they do so, Barcelona will have won every title available to them this season and will send off Jonatan Giráldez and Sandra Paños off as European champions. The former is leaving to manage in the NWSL and the latter is leaving at the end of her contract.


"It'll be a great final because I have no doubt at all that these are the two best teams in the world right now. If fans can't be in the stadium tomorrow then they should definitely watch it on TV," Giráldez said.