Queens of Europe: The Story Of Lyon’s Incredible Champions League Journey

Both in Europe and domestically, Lyon have enjoyed an astonishing period of dominance
10:01, 26 Oct 2019

A brief glance at the list of Champions League records held by Olympique Lyonnais Feminine might cause the uninitiated to pause for thought. 

How one side have enjoyed such an astonishing period of dominance, not only in their domestic league but in Europe too, is indeed startling. 

Last week, Lyon became the first team to play 100 matches in the Women’s Champions League. 

It is seemingly going to take something remarkable for anyone to halt their inexorable march towards a fifth straight European title under the guidance of record appearance-holder and skipper Wendie Renard. 

They have missed out on the final in just two of the last 10 seasons, amassing a host of records in the process.

Jean-Luc Vasseur’s side are not just setting the pace on the continent – they are racing ahead by a mile. 

They have won 78 Champions League games, easily surpassing Frankfurt’s 54, and have also scored the most goals in a single season – 45 in the 2013/14 season – and with a tally of 379, scored the most goals in the competition as a whole. 

Then come the individual accolades. There is, of course, Renard, an obvious standout by way of her longevity, who has made as many appearances (85), won as many Champions League titles (6), and featured in as many finals (8) as any other player. 

Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg continues to smash expectations, scoring a record-equalling 51 in Europe. An incredible 47 of those have been for Lyon, equalling the most goals by one player for a single club. 

This is the current state of affairs – but it is a story that goes back more than a decade.

It has been easy, in light of the unequalled success of this summer’s World Cup, for clubs to pour new investment into their women’s set-ups. But all the way back in the mid-2000s Lyon decided to break new ground while others sat around and watched. 

Whereas the men’s side had enjoyed great success and won seven league titles, that golden period began to take on a different hue as Paris Saint-Germain became resurgent. The women’s side picked up where the men had left off. 

An eye-watering 13 consecutive titles are evidence of that. 

There is little sign of that supremacy letting up, not least because of the additions of England duo Nikita Parris and Alex Greenwood, formerly of Manchester City and Manchester United respectively. 

Lyon’s approach has been bold. Unprecedentedly daring, even. In France and beyond, they are rightly reaping the rewards.

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