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Champions League

Previewing the 2016 UEFA Women’s Champions League Final

Lyon's Norwegian forward Ada Hegerberg celebrates during the Women Champions League semi-final First leg football match Olympique Lyonnais (OL) against Paris-Saint-Germain (PSG) at the Parc de l'Olympique Lyonnais in Decines-Charpieu, central eastern France, on April 24, 2016. / AFP / ROMAIN April 24, 2016| Credit: ROMAIN LAFABREGUE

You all know about the 2016 UEFA Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, a.k.a. the Madrid Derby in Milan that will take place on May 28. But did you know that there is a women’s version of this same tournament? Arguably one of the most lucative honors in the women’s game clubwise, the UEFA Women’s Champions League has been a tradition since 2001.

Matt Ross’s 1.FFC Frankfurt have been the most successful club in this competition, winning four times. But this year, a new champion will be crowned. This year’s final features Ralf Kellermann’s VfL Wolfsburg and Gerard Precheur’s Olympique Lyonnais. The match will be held at the Mapei Stadium – Città del Tricolore in Reggio Emilia, Italy, the home of US Sassuolo.

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Founded in 2003, the club was originally founded in 1973 as VfR Eintracht Wolfsburg before joining VfL Wolfsburg in 2003. Wolfsburg have won the Champions League twice (2012–13, 2013–14), the Frauen-Bundesliga twice (2012–13, 2013–14) and the DFB Pokal three times (2012–13, 2013–14, 2015-16). This year was a bit of a step back, finishing second to Bayern Munich in the league with a record of 15-2-5 (47 points). However, Wolfsburg will be returning to this tournament next year.

Unlike in the men’s version, there is no group stage for the top clubs as the best in the continent begin their run in the round of 32. Wolfsburg started with a Round of 32 contest against Spartak Subotica of Serbia. Having gone scoreless in the first leg, VfL were dominant in the second leg, winning 4-2. In the Round of 16, they took on the champions of the FA Women’s Super League, Chelsea Ladies. Wolfsburg won both legs on 2-1 and 2-0 scores for an aggregate score of 4-1.

In the quarterfinals, Wolfsburg faced ACF Brescia of Italy. It was no contest, as both matches ended in 3-0 shutout wins for a decisive 6-0 aggregate scoreline. In the semifinals, Wolfsburg got off to a fast start against Frankfurt, smoking the defending champions in the first left 4-0 before dropping the second leg 1-0 for a 4-1 aggregate victory.

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Paris Saint-Germain may be all the rage in the men’s game over in France, but it’s Olympique Lyonnais that have dominated French women’s club football. Like with Paris Saint-Germain’s men, the club’s history dates back to 1970, when they were founded as the women’s branch of FC Lyon. They became the women’s section of Olympique Lyonnais in 2004 and since then, they have become a global powerhouse in the women’s game.

OL are what PSG are in the men’s game as of late: a dynasty with 14 Division 1 Femenine (male equivalent of Ligue 1) titles and eight Coupes de France. They have also won the Champions League twice (2010–11, 2011–12) and finished runners-up twice (2009–10, 2012–13). Many notable players have played for OL, including Shinobu Ohno, Sonia Bompastor, Hope Solo, Aly Wagner and Megan Rapinoe. This year’s team is fueled by stars such as Lotta Schelin, Saki Kumagai, Eugenie Le Sommer, Louisa Necib, Camille Abily, Ada Hegerberg and Elodie Thomis.

Lyon started their run against Polish side Medyk Konin in the Round of 32. They won the first leg 6-0 and the second leg 3-0 for a 9-0 aggregate scoreline. In the Round of 16, they faced Atletico Madrid. Unsurprisingly, the women at Atletico are miles behind the men in terms of development and competitiveness, as seen in their 9-1 defeat. Lyon won both legs on 3-1 and 6-0 scorelines.

In the quarterfinals, Lyon faced SK Slavia Praha. The aggregate wasn’t even close. Lyon won the first leg 9-1 and that was essentially all that was needed, as the second leg ended in a scoreless draw. OL’s next opponent in the semis were Paris Saint-Germain. While it should be noted that the women of PSG processed one step farther than the men, Lyon showed why Division 1 Femenin is really a one-team division. Lyon won the first leg 7-0 and eased into the final on a 1-0 second leg victory for an 8-0 aggregate scoreline.

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The best team in France faces the second best team in Germany in Italy for the right to be called the queens of the continent. Kickoff is scheduled for 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET on May 26. Here are 10 Bold Predictions for the 2016 UEFA Women’s Champions League Final between VfL Wolfsburg and Olympique Lyonnais.

  • At least 30 fouls will be whistled.
  • Under five cards will be issued.
  • Ada Hegerberg will score for Olympique Lyonnais.
  • Eugenie Le Sommer will score for Olympique Lyonnais.
  • Camille Abily will score for Olympique Lyonnais.
  • Alexandra Popp will score for VfL Wolfsburg.
  • Ramona Bachmann will score for VFL Wolfsburg.
  • Lotta Schelin will score for Olympique Lyonnais.
  • Almuth Schult will make at least four saves.
  • Sarah Bouhaddi will make under six saves.

This will be Lyon’s third UEFA Women’s Champions League crown, and it will be the culmination of a sensational year for the club. After securing a domestic double, Olympique Lyonnais Femenin finish the dessert and sign off with an emphatic win over VfL Wolfsburg.

Olympique Lyonnais 4, VfL Wolfsburg 2

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