On Sunday, Lyon and Wolfsburg will meet in the Champions League final. It is the match-up most observers predicted (including here at Bundesliga Fanatic): two teams with plenty of history, Lyon are the four-time defending champions, but Wolfsburg were the last team to defeat them in the final in 2013. But since the European re-start last week, have die Wölfinnen become the favorites now?
Lyon had the tougher draw, having to first get past a resolute Bayern Munich team in the quarter-final. They then faced domestic rivals Paris Saint-Germain in a bruising semi-final that featured 38 fouls and two red cards and that, at times, resembled a boxing match. Lyon were already wounded, having to play without their starting striker, central midfielder, and center-back, and now Nikita Parris will be suspended for the final. They are also on one fewer day of rest. PSG could not take advantage, but this Lyon squad is not nearly as invincible as the past ones.
Wolfsburg, on the other hand, had a draw that helped them ease into the European re-start. They hammered Glasgow City in the quarter-final as a warm-up, then conceded possession but took their one chance via Fridolina Rolfö to get past last year’s runners-up Barcelona in the semi-final. The four-headed attacking hydra of Pernille Harder, Ewa Pajor, Svenja Huth, and Rolfö has been as good as advertised, while Ingrid Engen has been one of the stand-out midfielders in the tournament. Despite their lesser pedigree, Wolfsburg will feel confident about their chances in the final.
Besides confidence, there will also be additional motivation for at least one Wolfsburg player. According to breaking news from SportBuzzer, Danish forward Harder—one of the players who have a legitimate claim to be the best in the world right now—will finally join Chelsea in the FA Women’s Super League and the final will be her farewell. Harder’s partner Magdalena Eriksson is Chelsea’s captain, and she almost made the switch to London in January before negotiations broke down. Now Chelsea will pay €350,000 to secure Harder’s signature. In the women’s game where transfers involving fees are still rare, this is an astronomical sum and certainly the highest ever for a Frauen-Bundesliga player. If this is the last time Harder will play in a Wolfsburg jersey, bringing back the European treble would certainly be a nice parting gift.
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