Lyon boss on Champions League final: We’re best team in world

Lyon head coach Sonia Bompastor said her side is the “best team in the world” as they prepare to face reigning champions Barcelona in the Champions League finals in Bilbao on Saturday.

The eight-time winners of the competition have an indomitable history in the competition, entering their 11th Champions League final since 2010.

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The two sides have met twice in Champions League finals, both ending in victory for Lyon.

In 2019, Lyon defeated the Catalans 4-1 and strode to a comfortable 3-1 victory in the 2022 final in Turin — the last time Lyon won the competition.

“We are a team that has won a lot in the past,” Bompastor told a news conference in Bilbao on Friday.

“But we remain really ambitious. For me we are the best team in the world and will continue to be no matter what happens tomorrow.

“This Barça is different from the one we faced in the final two years ago. They have made new signings and each final brings with it a different story. It will be a totally different game tomorrow.”

Barçelona have never defeated Lyon in the competition before, but Jonatan Giráldez’s side have made the final for the past three consecutive seasons, winning two of the instalments against Chelsea (2021) and then Wolfsburg (2023).

Lyon failed to make it past the quarterfinals last term, falling short against Chelsea, who were then defeated by Barçelona in the semifinal.

“Barçelona have really evolved. They have world-class players, and they like to dominate. But we have our own strengths, we know our qualities, and we have evolved together over many seasons,” Lyon captain Wendie Renard said.

“We know our opponents very well and we are ready to give everything, though it will be difficult. In the last 10 years we have shown that we have a great team and a lot of determination. Winning as many titles as possible is what motivates us every day.”

Bompastor would not confirm whether talismanic striker Ada Hegerberg is fit enough to start.

“She could be available tomorrow. Her experience is invaluable, and with the right mentality, anything is possible for Ada,” she said. Bompastor confirmed that the 28-year-old is back in full training and wants to start.

The Norway international has won the competition with Lyon six times and is one of the side’s most challenging and dynamic threats.

The inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or winner signed a new deal to remain with the club until 2027 but has been absent from the fold recently after suffering an injury.

Giráldez thinks the season has helped his team prepare for this moment.

“I agree both teams have evolved, we have different players, our structure is also different,” he said in his news conference. “I see a game where we need to dominate for 90 minutes. Of course, there will be small adaptations to take into account Lyon’s qualities. All things we’ve been working on during the season have prepared us very well.

“What we have to do tomorrow is prove that we want to be the best team in Europe. That is the ambition.”

Barcelona midfielder Aitana Bonmatí stressed the importance of defending early on in the final.

“I think that experience is very important but I also know if we don’t let in goals in the first minute it’s much better,” she said. “Even though we have a very big team in front of us, we are confident and thinking about victory and that’s something that’s really improved in the last years.

“Tomorrow we start 0-0. As coach said we are the two best teams in the world.”

Both teams have added incentives this time around as both managers are set to leave their respective clubs.

Giráldez will depart Barçelona at the end of the season to become the new head coach of NWSL side Washington Spirit and are aiming to claim the quadruple in his final season.

Bompastor is set to be announced as the new Chelsea head coach next week after Emma Hayes departed the Women’s Super League club to become the United States women’s national team head coach.

Sam Marsden contributed to this report.