Barcelona vs Lyon, Real Madrid vs Liverpool: Two Football Finals With Spanish Clubs
May is the month for European football finals. On 21 May, Barcelona of Spain will confront Lyon of France in the final of the women’s Champions league at the Juventus stadium in Turin, Italy. This promises to be a gorgeous encounter as both teams represent the best that female club football can offer in Europe at the moment. But just as one prepares to savor this game, one remembers that male football counterparts will have their own day in Paris on 28 May when Liverpool of England takes on Real Madrid of Spain at Stade de France. To this end, one has come to the realization that there is nothing wrong in having a two-course football meal!
Barcelona women will be in Turin as the defending champions in the female Champions league competition having won the trophy last year in an overwhelming 4-0 victory over Chelsea in Gothenburg, Sweden. But Lyon has its own pedigree and the club comes from a country where football has a rich culture. This will ensure that Lyon will prove to be quite a hard nut to crack for the team from Spain despite Barcelona’s clear-cut advantage going into the final game of the series. Interestingly, Barcelona lost the same trophy to Lyon in 2019 in a scandalous 4-1 defeat in Budapest, Hungary. Lyon has seven Champions League trophies in its cabinet and this will intimidate Barcelona but football is a game of uncertainties, and the Spanish team will also aim at increasing their own trophy tally to two in this competition.
Football watchers have come to expect from the women from Spain, almost the same level of elegance seen from their male counterparts who are enviable masters of fluid football and magical moments. Barcelona possesses a capacity to enthrall and produce some of the finest ambassadors of the game. It is this same expectation that fans have of leading players of the team like the attacking Alexia Putellas, Jenni Hermoso, Caroline Hansen and Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala to make the final memorable. But Barcelona will meet rock-solid opposition from Lyon everywhere they turn on that lush Turin pitch.
Lyon boasts of the prolific Ada Hegerberg and a forward detachment that includes Catarina Macario, Melvine Malard, Eugene Le Sommer and Emelyne Laurent. These are players who can wreak havoc when loosely guarded and they have being instrumental in the progress of the French team. It is difficult to sidestep their class, value and threat as they prepare for Turin.
In the male final, both Liverpool of England and Real Madrid of Spain have a well-knitted football culture which is grounded in restless attack, midfield artistry and defensive discipline. Real Madrid earned a place in this final after recording an impressive six goal haul over both legs of the semifinal clash against Manchester City of England. On the other hand, Liverpool barreled in five goals against Villarreal of Spain. We know what to expect from these great teams who have glittering histories in European club football. Both know each other just too well and memories of their last clash in the 2018 final in Kyiv are still fresh in our minds. The Spanish team won on that day, but it wasn’t without incident. It was tear-jerking seeing Sergio Ramos take out Mo Salah of Liverpool through an ill-timed tackle. That exit took out considerable starch from the English team and they went on to lose the game by 3-1.
It will be a great triumph for Spanish football if Barcelona wins for women and Real Madrid does it in the male category. But they won’t be aiming for glory without credible opposition staring down at them. And this only means that either of the teams in the finals stands an equal chance for glory. It doesn’t really matter who wins at the end of the day, what really counts is that football and fair play triumphs on 21 and 28 May 2022.