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EFA Women's Champions League: Wolfsburg - Lyon
Image: picture-alliance/NurPhoto

Wolfsburg bow out of Champions League

March 28, 2019

Wolfsburg are the best team in Germany at the moment, but not even their best was good enough against a star-studded Lyon team. But one other Bundesliga side has kept their European dreams alive.


Wolfsburg and Olympique Lyon delivered another thrilling chapter in what has become the great club battle in the modern era of women's football.

Ruthlessly capitalizing on every mistake the home side made, Lyon sprung into a two-goal lead. Despite a quick brace by Wolfsburg's Pernille Harder that leveled the score shortly after halftime, Lyon found two more goals of their own.

France have had five Champions League winners — and all of them have been Lyon. This is a side that looks untouchable, and one that is unsurprisingly vying to win their fourth straight Champions League title. With Wolfsburg swept aside, Lyon look incapable of falling to any challenger.

Especially when Wolfsburg present the greatest challenge. The pair has faced off seven times now, with Lyon winning five. Three of those games were Champions League finals.

In 2013, Wolfsburg won 1-0 to seal a historic treble. In 2016, it went to penalties and Lyon emerged 4-3 victors despite Ada Hegerberg missing their first penalty.

Last year's game was the most dramatic of the lot though. In a nervy game, Lyon again looked the more likely to score as Wolfsburg only managed two off-target shots in the opening 90 minutes. But three minutes into extra time, Wolfsburg took the lead. Minutes later, Alexandra Popp's second yellow took Wolfsburg's edge away and Lyon ran out 4-1 winners. This fixture is brilliant and bold.

Wolfsburg in the 2018 Champions League final
Defeat in last year's Champions League final was heartbreaking for WolfsburgImage: Imago/GEPA/M. Klansek

Lyon 'quite ahead' of Wolfsburg

This season, Wolfsburg have again tried to keep in touch with their French rivals but have again slipped behind. The Bundesliga is not Europe, and an 8-0 drubbing of Borussia Mönchengladbach ahead of the second leg did not aid the Bundesliga side as much as desired.

In Wolfsburg's defense, this Lyon side is perhaps the greatest assembled women's team of the modern era. Backed by the outspoken and strong-willed software millionaire Jean-Michel Aulas, Lyon's squad includes French stars Eugenie Le Sommer, Wendie Renard and Amandine Henry, as well as England's Lucy Bronze and recent Ballon d'Or winner Ada Hegerberg. The Netherlands' Shanice van de Sanden and experienced Welsh international Jess Fishlock are another two names in a squad full of talent.

As former Wolfsburg head coach and current sporting director Ralf Kellermann said: "On the pitch we're perhaps on equal footing, but  economically speaking they're quite a way ahead of us."

Bayern dare to believe

On a night when Wolfsburg's European dream ended, Bayern Munich's continued. Not a major player in the women's game, Bayern are now the only Bundesliga team left in the Champions League. Having overcome a first leg stalemate against Slavia Prague, Bayern surged into their first ever Champions League semifinal thanks to a 5-1 win in Munich. A brace from the experienced Mandy Islacker helped set up a final-four clash with Barcelona.

Bayern's rise does not mark the emergence of a new dynasty, but it might serve as a warning to a Wolfsburg side so used to winning. With six games to go in the Bundesliga, Wolfsburg and Bayern both have 41 points earned from 14 wins and two draws. Wolfsburg are top though, thanks to a goal difference that is a whopping plus-15 healthier.

Before that title is decided though, Wolfsburg have a German Cup semifinal to play. Their opponent? Bayern Munich.

Whoever comes out in top in Germany, though, can be sure that they're still a long way from the marker that Lyon have once again put down.

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