Football Features

Biggest club in women’s football? Five stats showing just how dominant Lyon are

By Harry Edwards

Published: 20:37, 21 May 2022

In a thrilling Women’s Champions League final, Lyon beat holders Barcelona 3-1 to extend their record as the competition’s most successful side.

It was expected to be a close final but Lyon shocked almost everyone by taking the lead inside six minutes through a rocket from midfielder Amandine Henry. Ada Hegerberg doubled their advantage 17 minutes later and a pounding was on when Catarina Macario made it 3-0 with 10 minutes still to go before half-time.

Alexia Putellas did pull one back for Barca just before half-time but Lyon held out in the second half, playing the game and the occasion expertly to continue their dominance.

This is Lyon’s story.


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1. Lyon’s competition

First of all, the Champions League is Lyon’s competition. There is no doubt about that.

Since the competition was first formed, as the UEFA Women’s Cup, in 2001, eight different clubs have been crowned European champions – with five managing it on more than one occasion.

Arsenal, Duisburg and Barcelona are the three teams to have won it once, Wolfsburg, Turbine Potsdam and Umea have two, while Frankfurt have four. And then there’s Lyon with their eight Champions League titles. Yes, EIGHT.

But that’s not the most ridiculous thing about their dominance. Lyon’s first two Champions Leagues came back-to-back in 2011 and 2012, but Umea and Wolfsburg have also retained their crowns.

However, Lyon next won the Champions League in 2016 and held it for five wins, winning again in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. They were the benchmark Barcelona were striving for in Saturday’s Champions League final, but Lyon proved to be too much again in the Champions League.

2. Ever-present Wendie Renard

Lyon’s players entered the Champions League final chasing records, and one was sealed the second the match kicked off.

One of the key reasons for Lyon’s dominance in the Champions League has been the consistency of their spine, building a young team at the start that was with them all the way through, improving every year. Wendie Renard was one of those players, joining Lyon in 2006 aged just 16 to become a staple of the team, almost synonymous with Lyon. She’s been there through it all.

And on Saturday Renard played her 10th Champions League final. No player, in men’s or women’s football history has played more European Cup/Champions League finals than Renard and she also extended her lead for winners’ medals (alongside Eugenie Le Sommer).

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3. Mrs Champions League

Ada Hegerberg risked the wrath of Barcelona fans in the build up to the Champions League final. The first-ever Ballon d’Or Feminin winner set out to remind fans that Barcelona are not the only big team in women’s football despite their threats of dominace.

“There was women’s football before Barcelona, ​​and it was played here for years,” Hegerberg told L’Equipe at the end of April.

“We have to win again to regain our place in world football. We have the chance to do it this season. We have never lost against Barcelona.”

This was meant as no disrespect to Barcelona, but it did set Hegerberg up for a potential fall if Lyon failed to win and she failed to find the net. But Ada Hegerberg is Mrs Champions League. Of course she scored.

It was Lyon’s second of the night, building on Amandine Henry’s rocket with an excellent header from Selma Bacha’s brilliant cross to extend her lead as the Champions League’s all-time top goalscorer – scoring 59 goals in 60 games in the competition.

Hegerberg has also now scored in four Champions League finals, the first player to do so since Alfredo di Stefano. A wonderful end to a season that saw Hegerberg return to action after almost two years out due to injury. Fairytale stuff.


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4. Barcelona’s nemesis

Last season’s Champions League win was supposed to be the start of Barcelona’s reign. They were supposed to be the new Lyon. And they still might be in the future, but they couldn’t get past actual Lyon when it mattered.

A 4-0 battering of Chelsea in last season’s final was Barcelona’s redemption after their own heavy defeat to Lyon in 2019. Back then, Lyon stormed to a 4-0 lead after just 30 minutes with Hegerberg scoring a hat-trick after Dzsenifer Marozsan’s opener. Asisat Oshoala scored a late consolation but the humiliation was done.

Fast forward three years, this was Barcelona’s final boss. You can’t overtake Lyon unless you can beat them, in their home, the Champions League final. But Lyon used 2022 to teach Barcelona a lesson in football history. This is still Lyon’s domain.

5. A stranglehold on French football

Lyon’s dominance of women’s football doesn’t just cover the Champions League, they’re being selfish with the Division 1 Feminine too.

Being reformed as part of the wider Olympique Lyonnais club in 2004, Les Fenottes took a few years to build their dynasty, backed by owner Jean-Michel Aulas, a real trendsetter in women’s football.

Lyon won their first league title of the new era in 2007 and went on to retain the trophy 13 times. That’s right, between 2007 and 2020 they won the league title every season. Their reign was finally ended last year by Paris Saint-Germain but, as in the Champions League, they are back looking to reclaim their crown and lead the Division 1 Feminine by five points with two games left to play.

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