Women's Champions League final: Will Lyon or Barcelona win?

Will this be the closet UWCL final in recent years? (1:57)

ESPN FC's Sophie Lawson struggles to pick a winner between FC Barcelona & Lyon in the UWCL final as both teams head in as strong contenders. (1:57)

The 2024 UEFA Women's Champions League final is set: eight-time winners Lyon will face champions Barcelona, who are aiming for a second title in three years, at the San Mamés Stadium in Bilbao on May 25.

French giants Lyon got the better of their Spanish rivals in the 2019 final and again in 2022. Between them, the pair will have won the past nine titles once the dust has settled on Saturday.

What's in store this time? Here's a preview of the top women's club match in European football.

- Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

What state are Lyon in going into the match?

Lyon are in good form and good humour coming into the final, which will be their 11th Women's Champions League final appearance to date. Their last match was the Division 1 Féminine playoff final against Paris Saint-Germain, which they won with relative ease last weekend. In preparation for their last two games of the season, manager Sonia Bompastor rotated the squad heavily to give her players some rest.

Everything just feels right for Lyon. They've added another league trophy to their haul and they're back where they belong, ready to fight for Europe's biggest prize. Although she is unlikely to start in Bilbao, the return of talismanic attacker Ada Hegerberg from injury will also give Les Fenottes a boost.

Lyon will once again be going into a final in which they are not the favourites, but they will be feeling good about their chances of lifting the trophy for a ninth time. -- Sophie Lawson

What state are Barcelona in going into the match?

Barcelona completed a domestic treble at the weekend, thumping Real Sociedad 8-0 in the final of the Copa de la Reina, having already won a fifth consecutive Liga F title and the Spanish Supercopa earlier this season. "Three down, one to go," said forward Mariona Caldentey after the thrashing of La Real. That is a good demonstration of where Barcelona's heads are at the moment -- for all the success they have tasted in recent years, they are still focused on two challenges they feel they have left to tick off. The first is winning a quadruple for the first time ever; the second is beating Lyon.

"[Winning the final against them] would be the cherry on top of the cake," defender Marta Torrejón told ESPN ahead of Saturday's game.

The mood is buoyant and the squad is in good shape. Alexia Putellas and Fridolina Rolfö have both strung together a run of games in recent months after injury problems earlier this season, with centre-back María León the only major absentee expected this weekend.

However, there are some issues. The first is the psychological barrier of never having beaten the French champions. The second is the doubt sowed during the semifinal win over Chelsea. After losing the first leg -- Barcelona's first home loss in five years -- they turned things around at Stamford Bridge, but it was far from easy, and it demonstrated they can be neutralized in attack. -- Sam Marsden

Are FC Barcelona and Lyon a different level to the rest of Europe?

ESPN FC's Sophie Lawson discusses how FC Barcelona and Lyon got to the UWCL final.

Lyon lead Barça 7-2 on aggregate in their last two UWCL finals. Are they massive favourites?

Incredibly, eight-time champions Lyon are not actually seen as favourites now; such is the respect people have for Barcelona and the way that they play.

Lyon were top dog in the 2019 final, having won the previous three Women's Champions League titles, and the game was done after a half hour when an early goal from Dzsenifer Marozsán was followed by a stunning Hegerberg hat trick that put them up 4-0. But in 2022, Barcelona were the reigning champions, and the assumption was that Lyon's time was over. However, another three goals inside 33 minutes put paid to that and Lyon held out for a 3-1 win.

No team in women's football history have been as good at winning the Champions League as Lyon. The understanding of how to get through those finals is encoded into their DNA, so they really should be favourites this time.

But no one can deny the irresistible way that Barcelona play. Regardless of the shared history of the two teams, Barcelona's style and the quality of players such as Putellas and Aitana Bonmatí are what keep Barcelona favourites. -- SL

Was it inevitable these two teams would make the final?

With all due respect to beaten semifinalists, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain, this fixture did feel extremely inevitable. The way both teams powered through the group stage meant they couldn't meet until the semifinal and, once they were kept apart in the draw, meeting in a third final in six years was always on the cards.

Chelsea and PSG both played their part in the semifinals, showing that Barça and Lyon are not as far ahead as they were, but the two apex predators of the European game proved too strong in the end.

It is the final that generates the most interest, too. Lyon are looking to complete a trilogy of wins over Barcelona on the biggest stage. Meanwhile, Barça could finally establish themselves as the best around by beating the side who have denied them glory in the past and securing back-to-back Champions Leagues. -- SM

Lyon player to watch: Delphine Cascarino

Still on the way back to her best following an ACL injury last May, Cascarino has shown glimpses of her old self and is finding form at the right time for Lyon. Getting on the scoresheet for the first time in league this season against PSG at the weekend, the 27-year-old forward is looking fresh and might be the player to give Barcelona's defence all sorts of headaches.

As we saw last time these two teams met in the final, stopping Barcelona from playing their way was vital for Lyon, so we're also likely to see their midfield working overtime to congest the spaces and force turnovers. If that happens, a player such as combative USWNT midfielder Lindsey Horan could shine too. -- SL

Barcelona player to watch: Caroline Graham Hansen

This is the problem for Lyon; there are far too many to single out one player. Ballon d'Or winner Bonmatí is the obvious candidate; Rolfö, last year's match-winner in the final, has returned from injury in fine form; while 20-year-old Salma Paralluelo is developing into one of the game's best forwards.

However, Barça's standout player this season has been the oft-overlooked Caroline Graham Hansen. The Norway winger rarely features in individual awards, but it will be hard to leave her out this year. She leads Liga F in goals (19) and assists (18), adding five goals and five assists in the Champions League. In total, she has 57 goal contributions in all competitions from just 37 games. -- SM

How will Giráldez and Bompastor's imminent departures affect the UWCL final?

ESPN FC's Emily Keogh believes the departing managers of FC Barcelona & Lyon could be added motivation for both teams heading into the final.


Lyon 2-1 Barcelona. On paper, Barcelona are the favourites, but they're facing a Lyon team they've never beaten in a Champions League final. Their two previous meetings in the final have helped Barcelona grow more of the mentality you need to stay at the top, and we saw that in action last season when they came from behind against Wolfsburg.

If Lyon can disrupt the Blaugrana flow -- as they did in Turin, and as Chelsea did in their semifinal first leg in Montjuïc -- they could expose a weakness. Maybe it's foolhardy, but I'm going to go with Lyon. It won't be easy, but there is no team better at winning Women's Champions League titles. -- SL

Barcelona 2-1 Lyon (AET): Psychologically, the opening 30 minutes are going to be so important for Barcelona after their previous issues against Lyon. Even Wolfsburg led 2-0 at the break last year.

But this is a more mature Barça side. They can use the experience of last year's final comeback and the semifinal win over Chelsea to get over the line and send coach Jonatan Giraldez off to his new job with the Washington Spirit on a high. If they can get through those first 30 minutes level, or even within one goal of Lyon, they can win the game. It might take extra-time though. -- SM