The flagship tournament of European women’s football is set to conclude with an epic showdown this Sunday as Chelsea Women take on FC Barcelona Femení at the Gamla Ullevi stadium in Gothenburg, Sweden.
As the global interest in women’s football grows exponentially with each passing year, so does the degree of competition right at the top of the sport. Unlike the men’s side of the game, the past decade saw the summit of women’s European football dominated almost singularly by French side Olympique Lyonnais Féminin. Having won two consecutive UWCL titles at the start of last decade (2010-11, 2011-12), Lyon regained their throne in 2016 and went on asserting their dominance over the next five years as they won five UWCL titles back-to-back, seven in total between 2011 and 2020.
Their monopoly at the top, however, ended this season at the hands of their French rivals Paris Saint-Germain Féminine – the two also competing for this season’s Division 1 Féminine title – who beat them in the Quarter-finals, inviting further interest going into the business end of the tournament to see a different European champion for the first time since 2016.
Taking over from Lyon will be either Chelsea or Barça, neither of whom have won the Champions League before.
Lluís Cortés’ Barça come into this game having comprehensively dominated the domestic landscape this season. Having won the 2019-20 Primera Iberdrola title post COVID-curtailment of the season, the Blaugranes cruised through the league in this one, securing the title with eight matches to spare. They’re also in the semi-final of this season’s Copa de la Reina, having won the last year one only in February. They’re eyeing a historic treble, since no Spanish team has ever won the Champions League before.
Their opponent arrive into the final having been just as dominant in their domestic campaign, if not more. Chelsea have already secured three trophies this season, having won the FA Women’s League Cup, the FA Women’s Community Shield, and the FA Women’s Super League (WSL). They’re also in the Fifth Round of this year’s FA Women’s Cup. Their manager, Emma Hayes, has been at the club since 2012 and has helped establish Chelsea as the most successful English team in the WSL era while establishing herself as one of the most revered and sought-after managers in English football – both men’s and women’s. Hayes was first team assistant coach and academy director of Arsenal Ladies in 2007 when they won the UWCL – the only English team thus far to have won the competition. She’ll be looking to change that this Sunday, when she’ll attempt to lead her side to their first UWCL title in search for an unprecedented quintuple.
The UEFA Women’s Champions League final kicks-off on Monday, May 17, at 12.30 AM IST.