May 17, 2012, 3:27 PM EDT
With a 2-0 victory over FFC Frankfurt in the 2011-12 UEFA Women’s Champions League final, Olympique Lyonnais again show why they are peerless in the women’s game.
In what has become a familiar sight, Lyon sashayed their way to Champions League glory. The French club entered today’s final against German opponents FFC Frankfurt as heavy favorites. It didn’t take long to see why.
Frankfurt’s manager Sven Kahlert set his team up in an unorthodox 4-5-1 formation with playmaking ingénue Dzsenifer Morszan isolated up top as the lone striker. Five of the team’s front six players were natural midfielders, with the sixth being a converted center back. Kahlert’s formation underlined Frankfurt’s aspiration to stifle Lyon’s famed creativity with a compressed midfield.
The German club showed promise early on, and put Lyon’s defense under pressure. Frankfurt’s first fatal mistake turned out to be self-inflicted. Veteran outside midfielder Melanie Behringer foolishly tripped up Shirley Cruz Trana in the box, forcing the match official to award a penalty kick. Eugenie Le Sommer calmly slotted in the ensuing shot.
Lyon doubled their lead 13 minutes later, and what a sight it was. Frankfurt goalkeeper Desiree Schumann’s misplayed clearance landed at the feet of Camille Abily. Lyon’s midfield maestro showed no hesitation as she lobbed the half-volley past a helpless Schumann.
With the 2-0 advantage in hand, the reigning champions assumed control of the match from then on.
Frankfurt were unable to contend with Lyon’s majestic midfield play. Even when a Frankfurt player came upon a loose ball, their build-ups were devoid of any pay-off. Kahlert’s late substitutions injected some energy into Frankfurt’s diminishing attack. Marozsan – Frankfurt’s intended creative focal point – also seemed to rediscover confidence late in the match, but by then her team’s fate had been realized.
A record crowd of 50, 212 spectators packed Munich’s Olympiastadion. Some might come away disappointed in their compatriots’ performance, but Frankfurt were put to the sword by a truly distinct side. The occasion was marked with an air of inevitably. Lyon handled the pressure brilliantly.
With today’s victory, Lyon haveaffirmed their superiority in the sphere of women’s club soccer. They have now appeared in all three UEFA Women’s Champions League finals and have been crowned victors twice.
It’s a wonder when – or indeed if - Lyon will be knocked off their continental perch. This is a team whose potential for greatness knows no bounds.
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