“Barcelona have evolved,” admit Lyon stars ahead of UWCL final, “but we’re focusing on ourselves”

On the eve of yet another appearance in the UEFA Women’s Champions League Final, Olympique Lyonnais’ Sonia Bompastor was flanked by Wendie Renard and Christiane Endler as she addressed the media in her pre-match press conference.

Lyon will strive to regain control of the European crown that has historically been theirs and theirs alone, having won six of the last eight tournaments and all six of the finals that they’ve appeared in. Historically, even a team as domestically indomitable as Barcelona has not posed a threat to Lyon – but the Blaugrana are rejuvenated, reignited and relishing the prospect of going toe-to-toe with the best will be dangerously motivating.

Speaking on Friday evening at San Mámes, Bompastor admitted that “Barcelona over the last two seasons have evolved. They have changed their methodology. The team is different from the team that it was two years ago,” but stressed that Lyon “are focusing on ourselves.”

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“We are very confident, we are very peaceful. We had a great season when it comes to preparation,” she added. Those preparations have been bolstered in recent weeks by Ada Hegerberg’s return to training, and Bompastor confirmed that the Norwegian “has been training as normal” for the last few weeks.

“She’s going from strength to strength, everyone in this room knows her quality. Her experience for these types of games is precious… Everything is possible for Ada tomorrow.”

UEFA estimate that more than 40,000 Barcelona fans will be present in Bilbao on Saturday, but Christiane Endler brushed off suggestions that playing against a hostile crowd could affect Lyon’s performances. “We know 80% or more of the supporters will come from Barcelona,” she told reporters, “but we’re ready.”

Evolution was a key topic of the press conference, with Endler also stressing that her Lyon side are “always working and training to win the title. We always have this ambition to carry on, to grow, to evolve and to win – of course. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but we still have this ambition to win.”

It was a viewpoint echoed by Wendie Renard, who not only reflected on Lyon’s evolution but also that of their opponents on Saturday. “The evolution of the coach [Bompastor], she got to a time when it was quite particular for her… She’s got more experience, and today we are in the final of the Champions League. We are going to give everything we have to win this trophy,” insisted the defender..

She went on to add: “Barcelona have really evolved in the last few years. They have the best-class players, they are able to eliminate others and they like to dominate the opponent… We know them very well and collectively speaking, we are ready and we want to give everything we have to win this game which will be quite difficult.”

FromTheSpot’s extensive coverage of the 2023/24 UEFA Women’s Champions League will continue throughout the weekend.

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