Women's Champions League Final Preview: Barcelona -v- Wolfsburg

A general view during a FC Barcelona Training Session before the UEFA Women's Champions League Final 2022/23 final match between FC Barcelona and Vfl Wolfsburg in the PSV Stadion on June 2, 2023 in Eindhoven

A general view during a FC Barcelona Training Session before the UEFA Women's Champions League Final 2022/23 final match between FC Barcelona and Vfl Wolfsburg in the PSV Stadion on June 2, 2023 in Eindhoven Credit: c) Ramsey Cardy - Sportsfile/UEFA/Getty Images

From Dylan O'Connell in Eindhoven


Having won Liga F at a canter, Barcelona have their eyes on the biggest prize that European football has to offer at the Philips Stadion, with an air of unfinished business around the squad in Eindhoven over their loss to Lyon in last year’s final.

The Catalan’s were aiming to win a complete clean sweep but that dream was cut short with a shock defeat in Turin. It has been described as ‘traumatic’ over their first half implosion, and now the players want to make things right.

They boosted their cause by making two marquee signings from the Women’s Super League; Lucy Bronze and Kiera Walsh, with the pair arriving from Manchester City last summer.

While they showed to the world last year that they have the ability to go and win big games, the Euro 2022 final is one example of that, Bronze will have all the attention over her successes with Lyon in the Champions League.

Everything has combined to create a form of tunnel vision in the squad, as they look to avenge last year’s loss while adding to the legend that was born with a victory over Chelsea in the 2021 final.

That same team, the one Emma Hayes has used to conquer England, went down 2-1 on aggregate to Barcelona in the semi-finals this year. Now they want to finish the job, banish the ghosts of Turin, and take the trophy back to Barcelona.

“It was traumatic, not just for me but for the whole team. We worked so hard for that final and we did not manage it,” said Caroline Graham Hansen as she looked back on last year. "We want to give everything and bring the trophy back to Barcelona.”

With the final in mind, the Norwegian international knows what the club has to do to succeed on Saturday. “Our job is to give 100% each and every one of us and play for the team,” she said.

“I think the key is playing as a team. Being demanding of our team. Playing at our best to help the team. That is how we will get the win. We will need to work hard for one another. That is the key.

“The final last year was very evenly matched although we did lose 3-1. I think it was our worst game of the season. The small details certainly made the difference and it will the case tomorrow.

“I think we have improved in the last two years. We have more ways of playing, we are more versatile. If our opponents shut up shop, we can cope with that.”

One thing that could give Barcelona a slight edge is the 8,000 fans that have travelled to Eindhoven for the sold out game.

“That is a really big deal, we’d like to thank all the fans for the big effort they are making to be here,” she explained. “It shows that people are putting in a huge effort and spending a lot of money. 

“I can’t say that will mean we will win. We know what football is like. It is certainly a factor that will help us in achieving our target, taking the trophy back to Barcelona.”

Before finishing up, Graham Hansen alliterated the reason why she and her team-mates are in Eindhoven.

“You always have to know how to handle the pressure when you play for Barcelona,” she said. “The result in the final in Turin did affect us last year, especially with so many fans there. “We feel like we owe the fans victory in the final.”


If anything sums up Wolfsburg’s season, it’s agony and ecstasy given that they lost out on the Frauen-Bundesliga title to Bayern Munich by two points and now there’s a realistic chance of Champions League glory.

The latter could join the DFB-Pokal Frauen which they won by beating SC Freiburg 4-1 in the final last month.

There’s also the small matter of snapping their recent streak of final losses, a record that puts the likes of Atletico Madrid in the Champions League to shame.

Ever since they beat Tyresö to lifr the trophy in 2014, Wolfsburg have lost their last three finals. All of those were against Lyon, meaning the past will have no bearing on tomorrow’s game with Barcelona.

Still, three lost finals in a row is a record very few clubs on the continent want and Wolfsburg are determined it doesn’t turn into a habit.

What could be the difference is the presence of Ewa Pajor, who is the top scorer in this season’s Women’s Champions League. They also have Svenja Huth, Kathrin Hendrich, and Sveindís Jane Jónsdóttir; a trio that has tallied 10 assists between them this season in the competition.

This mightn’t mean much given Barcelona’s style of play and their record in possession, and Wolfsburg are aware of that.

Even Alexandra Popp admits it, and that’s the extent of any compliment she gives to tomorrow’s opponents. 

“It is fun to watch them, we’re not going to watch them tomorrow. I can tell you that,” she jokes.

The German international cast her mind back to the quarter finals of the 2013/14 edition of the Women’s Champions League.

Barcelona were starting to find their balance at that level and Wolfsburg swatted them aside 5-0 over two legs.

Nine years later and the Catalans are into their third consecutive final while looking at winning their second title in three seasons.

“They have developed a lot over the last few years. I think in 2014 we played against Barcelona and it was a very different thing at the time,” she explained.

“Yes you could see it was Spanish football but not in the consistency that you see now with Barcelona. They have done very, very well over the past few years and rightly so they were in the final during those years and they are in the final again.”

“But we want to win the title tomorrow and we don’t want to let them win.”

Referee: Cheryl Foster (Wales)