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Rachel Corsie: UEFA Women’s Champions League final destined to be another great showdown between two of the world’s best

Barcelona Femení, the current UWCL holders, will face Lyon in the final in Turin. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Daniela Porcelli/SPP/Shutterstock
Barcelona Femení, the current UWCL holders, will face Lyon in the final in Turin. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Daniela Porcelli/SPP/Shutterstock

The Uefa Women’s Champions League final will take place tonight in Turin at a sold-out Juventus Stadium, with a capacity 41,507 tickets sold and accommodation apparently sparse to find.

The final is widely anticipated to be another great showdown between two teams that have played a great part in the history of the competition so far.

Although relatively young in their journey to success, Barcelona are the current holders after beating Chelsea 4-0 in last season’s final. However Lyon are known as the European giants and have won the competition a record seven times.

Barcelona are currently argued to be one of the best club sides in the world and their undefeated domestic season certainly suggests there is a strong argument for that. Having already won the Super Cup along with the league title, they still have the chance to win the quadruple with a Copa de la Reina semi-final to follow next weekend against Real Madrid.

They have faced defeat this season, which came in a recent second leg of their Champions League semi-final against Wolfsburg. However, their 5-1 first leg lead was enough to ensure they would progress to back-to-back finals and possibly the loss will be the warning they need to ensure complacency won’t be a factor tonight.

Barcelona have a mass of the Spanish national team players in their ranks as well as a small number of hand-picked international stars. The midfield is certainly packed with quality and in true Barca fashion that is where they possess some of their most lethal fire power.

Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas wears the armband and although she wears the number 11 shirt, she typically takes up the creative position of the number 10. Patri sits in a deeper role, along with Spanish team-mate Aitana Bonmatí, and together the trio have consistently put on a lesson of how to dominate and control a game of football.

The last time these sides faced each other, Lyon ran out 4-1 winners, with Asisat Oshoala scoring on that day. The Nigerian forward will likely start on the bench tonight, with Jenni expected to lead from the front, alongside Swiss winger Ana Crnogorcevic on the left and Norway’s Caroline Graham Hansen on the opposite side.

Despite Lyon losing out to PSG last season in the league they have restored their dominance in this season’s competition and have re-galvanised their form. Led by Wendie Renard, who has played a record number of minutes in the UWCL and marked her 100th Champions League appearance in the semi-finals last month, they are very worthy opponents for Barcelona.

They have been boosted this season with the return of their star striker, Ada Hegerberg, who missed most of last year with an ACL injury and she looks to be back on her best form. American duo, Lindsey Horan and Catarina Macario have also built an enjoyable partnership that looks to be finding form ahead of tonight’s match.

ITV were fastest to move on gaining the rights to show the final tonight and it is great to see the biggest competition shown live despite there being no English side in action.

Arsenal’s inclusive kit launch

It’s that time of year when we are already starting to see next season’s kits being released and whilst that often brings plenty of excitement it also comes with a free-for-all of scrutiny.

The latest launch came from Arsenal, and whether you support them, or have a view on next season’s home shirt, there can be no argument over this excellent piece of commercial strategy.

It encapsulated a real sense of their North London community, as it cleverly tied in landmark locations through a journey that epitomises the diversity and passions of their supporters.

I’m certainly not a Gunner, but the gripping content found me watching with a smile to the very end, as the well-balanced reel used a perfect hybrid of their male and female first team stars to showcase the new kit whilst putting their own fans at the very forefront.

Arsenal have at times been known for ambivalent performances on the pitch, but they are widely considered one of the most progressive clubs off it. They have a positive reputation for inclusion and diversity and have strong presence in the community as they try and make sure football is for all.

In the same week, the club has announced that Arsenal will play over half of their women’s home league matches next season at the Emirates, with the likelihood of their UWCL knock-out matches also being hosted there should they reach those stages again.

The decision is one that puts fair question to almost all others, as they lead the way in showing the respect and value for their first team.

England boss selects provisional Euro squad

Sarina Wiegman selected a familiar pool of England players ahead of this summer’s Euros, with three names expected to be cut before the final 23 are named at the end of June.

Sixteen of the squad come from either Chelsea or Manchester City, as the two clubs have scooped all of the silverware on offer in the 2021-22 domestic season.

Chelsea beat Manchester City 3-2 in the Women’s FA Cup final, completing the domestic double following their WSL title success. Photo by Action Plus/Shutterstock

The only player selected outside of England’s FAWSL is Houston Dash forward Rachel Daly.

At the upcoming World Cup in Qatar, FIFA have announced for the first time in history there will be three female referees as part of the officiating team.

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