UEFA Women’s Champions League action resumes this month in Bilbao and San Sebastian and the eyes of many will be focused on Olympique Lyonnais.
Lyon are the dominant force in European women’s football, a position they have held for nearly a decade. They have won six of the last ten finals, including the last four in a row. Jean-Luc Vasseur’s side have mopped up the European scene yet again this season, but German giants Bayern Munich stand in their way of a semi-final appearance.
Before the two meet in Bilbao, here's a look at Lyon's campaign so far.
The reigning champions had a walkover in their first tie of the tournament. They faced Russian outfit Ryazan VDV. The three-time Russian champions had finished fifth in the 2018-19 Russian Women’s Championship season and qualified for the round of 32 stage.
The French side were drawn away first, travelling to the CSK YSC Stadium in September. The first leg went about as expected for the Russians. Within 12 minutes, Lyon went ahead through a penalty from Dzenifer Marozsán. By half time, Lyon had carved out a five-goal lead over their hosts. Star player Ada Hegerberg had netted twice with goals from Amandine Henry and Wendie Renard completing the first half scoresheet.
Lyon showed no restraint to Ryazan in the second half, netting a further four times. By the end of the match, both Hegeberg and Renard had netted hat-tricks while Amil Majiri also converted from the penalty spot. Three of the nine goals were scored from the spot as Ryazan gave two penalties away in eight minutes for Hegeberg’s and Majiri’s goals.
Taking a massive nine-goal lead back to France, it would have been reasonable to expect Lyon to sit back and relax. There was a slight let-up from the European giants, but only because they scored seven goals instead of nine. Eugénie Le Sommer opened the scoring on 18 minutes before English forward Nikita Parris added a second three minutes later. Delphine Cascarino scored shortly before half-time to send Lyon in 12-0 up in the tie at half time.
Again, there was no mercy from Lyon in the second half. Another four goals were scored, though two were from the spot. Ada Hegeberg scored the first penalty ten minutes after the restart with Renard bagging the second in stoppage time. Sandwiched in between these two goals were second strikes from Hegeberg and Parris. Three of the four second-half goals were scored after the 88th minute.
After a 16-0 aggregate win over Ryazan, Lyon qualified for the round of 16 at a canter and were drawn against Danish side Fortuna Hjørring.
Lyon were again drawn away from home, visiting Hjørring for the first leg. The hosts had narrowly missed out on the Danish title in 2019 but had won their domestic cup. They had narrowly overcome Albanian outfit KS Vllaznia Shkodër on aggregate in the Round of 32 and faced a predictably daunting task against Lyon.
The result wasn’t as much of a blowout as the match against Ryazan, but the Lyon win was still never in doubt. Hegeberg again got the scoring underway in the 17th minute with Lyon’s sixth penalty of the tournament with Le Sommer bagging the giants’ second on the half hour mark. Both players would get seconds before full time, leaving Lyon with a four goal lead to take back to France.
For the second consecutive home match, Lyon chalked up a 7-0 victory against Fortuna. This time, the French giants showed their depth with six different scorers. Hegeberg again got a double, taking her tally for the tournament up to nine in just four matches. Le Sommer and Parris both found themselves on the scoresheet again, before some new names finally grabbed their firsts of the tournament. These were defenders Griedge M’Bock Bathy and Kadeisha Buchanan as well as forward Jéssica Silva.
While Lyon have been in free-scoring form so far this tournament, it has to be noted that they haven’t met anyone close to their stature yet. Bayern Munich will be their first major test and all eyes will be on Bilbao when the French champions lock horns with Germany’s runners-up.