In the Champions League, Olympique de Lyon rules. And of that, the French team, did not want any doubt to remain. He had already made it clear to Barcelona in his first European final in 2019 in Budapest (4-1) and this Saturday he suffered it again in Turin. At the moment in which the azulgrana walked with confidence on fire, ready to treat them, already in the suit of defending champion of the title, Lyon sent them to the canvas again. As in Hungary, half an hour was enough for the French team to show their power: three goals in 33 minutes. This time, Barça rebelled. It did not reach him. The chameleonic Lyon, capable of dominating the game on and off the ball, as tough physically as it is mentally strong, is impossible for Barcelona to crack.
In a duel loaded with symbolism, in which the last two European champions, owners of two different styles, were measured, Lyon did not want anyone to put their hegemony in check. The French team raised its eighth Champions in a kind of reality bath for the azulgrana. Before the final in Turin, Barcelona and Lyon had met five times, each time with the same winner: the French side. Nothing changed in Turin, no matter how much Jonatan Giráldez, Barça coach, turned the duel around.
Giráldez gambled for control against the tactically messy Lyon. From the outset, the message was clear: Jenni Hermoso instead of Oshola, less depth but more legs to tie the ball in midfield. Above all, if you take into account that, with Martens out of shape, the Barça coach placed Mariona on the far left. However, at the dawn of the duel, Barça suffered to overcome the pressure of the French. If even Putellas, a specialist in that of hiding the leather, accumulated four losses in six minutes, the last lethal for Paños. Recovering from a tackle, Henry took the ball 30 meters from Barcelona’s goal and didn’t think twice: he whipped out a powerful and precise whip that slipped into the top corner.
The goal, a symbol of power, sent a clear message: Europe is the territory of Lyon, present in 10 Champions League finals. In fact, the eleven Barça players who took the field already knew what it was like to lose the Champions League final against Lyon. Those who were in the final in Budapest, but also Paredes (when he was wearing the PSG shirt) and Rolfo (Wolfsburg). And the Bompastor players did not hide their desire to show Barça who owned the continent. As soon as Henry scored, all the players from the French team, including goalkeeper Endler, joined in a pineapple in the center circle.
Stunned and imprecise, Barça could not rest with the ball and only broke Lyon with Aitana’s unchecking and Rolfo’s escalations down the left wing. Bonmatí slipped into the area of the French box, but Hermoso’s shot was rejected without too much effort by Endler. The 10 It was also not successful in the small area to send Rolfo’s good lateral pass to the net.
Barcelona analysts found it difficult to prepare for the final. There was no way to find patterns in Lyon’s game. An impossible chaos to decipher, at times brilliant, at others inconsequential, an accumulation of cards capable of the best, never the worst, always impossible to knock down for Barça.
And when it comes to cards, none better than Ada Hegerberg. The Norwegian didn’t need much to show why she is the best striker in the Champions League. In her first shot on goal, the winner of the first Ballon d’Or headed it 0-2. Lyon’s superiority began in physical power to control Barça’s midfielders, it was developed in the wings and materialized in the area. The clock had just passed half an hour, when Macario sang the third after taking advantage of a Barça mistake in defense. Barcelona was groggy, without its compass in the midfield. Patri Guijarro suffered from the pressure from the French, Aitana couldn’t find his place and Alexia only appeared in the 41st minute, when Hansen’s center firmly finished off the center of the area.
After passing through the locker room, Giráldez changed his plan. Actually, he went back to the initial idea of him: physical power and speed to attack the space with Oshoala. The recipe scared Lyon. Then, when the duel was put to hit by hit, the Barca coach added more gasoline: Martens. Olympique had threatened Paños with Cascarino and Malard, but Barça was already installed in the Lyon field.
After Patri Guijarro’s shot to the crossbar —he recovered the ball in the middle of the field and, when he saw Endler ahead, he did not hesitate to shoot—, Barça took more pride than football. He began to move the leather, now with two wide-open wingers like Martens and Graham and an awkward forward for the Lyon defense like Oshola, who released Guijarro, Aitana and Putellas. But Lyon defended themselves unapologetically. And he endured. He played with the clock until he lifted his eighth Champions League and showed the world who’s boss in Europe.
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