Our fans can make the difference against Lyon: Barca's Bonmati

Our fans can make the difference against Lyon: Barca's Bonmati


Tens of thousands of Barca fans are expected to travel to Bilbao

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Bilbao (Spain) (AFP) – Barcelona playmaker Aitana Bonmati said her team's vast travelling support could make the difference in the women's Champions League final against French giants Lyon on Saturday.

Tens of thousands of Barca fans are expected to travel to Bilbao, with some estimates in Spanish media as high as 40,000.

The reigning champions face record eight-time winners Lyon, whom they have never beaten in four meetings, including the 2019 and 2022 finals.

"We're getting supported (at home), we know many Barca fans are coming here to Bilbao, it's an honour to be part of this club," Ballon d'Or winner Bonmati told a news conference Friday at the San Mames stadium.

"They know they are the 12th player and as they always show, they are the player that we need to win all these matches." Barcelona set the two highest women's club football attendances of all time by filling Camp Nou on their run to the 2022 final.

"The most important thing is to win but you have to enjoy it too, I've been learning that over time," continued Bonmati. "Not just for the game, but everything around it -- we are so lucky to live through it."

Barcelona can complete a quadruple if they defeat Lyon, in what will be coach Jonatan Giraldez's last game in charge before he leaves to take over US team Washington Spirit.

"I'm very proud for everything in my three years as a coach," said Giraldez, who took Barca to their second Champions League triumph in 2023.

"To play in Spain, in this spectacular stadium, in the situation we're in with three domestic trophies in our pocket, to play a Champions League final at San Mames with so many fans coming from Barcelona... coaching Barca is something very special for me.

"To work with these players and staff makes me very proud, we're in the position we want to be in and we have to have the best game possible tomorrow to crown ourselves champions."

Giraldez said he did not believe the final had been eclipsed by Barcelona's president Joan Laporta's decision to sack men's coach Xavi Hernandez on the eve of the game.

"We received the news, but we have training, life goes on, there's not much to say from our side because it's not our business," added the coach.

"I already explained what we have to do tomorrow... the only thing we're concerned about is preparing to show we're the best team in Europe."

Lyon coach Sonia Bompastor said earlier her side are "the best team in the world" in terms of success and that will remain true even if Barcelona beat them.

The French side have seen their European dominance threatened by current holders Barcelona in recent years, with the Catalans reaching four finals in five years.

'No matter what happens'

"By titles, we are the best team in the world and will continue to be, no matter what happens tomorrow," Bompastor told reporters. "The game is very important tomorrow, we want to win, I'm very determined. I trust my players."

Giraldez responded by saying he respected his opposite number's words and that these two clubs are both the "best in the world". Bompastor said striker Ada Hegerberg was fit to feature in the final as she continues her comeback after injury.

"Ada in the last few weeks has been training as normal, she's going from strength to strength, everyone in this room knows her qualities," said Bompastor. "Her experience is invaluable and with a strong mind everything is possible for Ada tomorrow."

Lyon centre-back and captain Wendie Renard played down talk of rivalry against Barcelona, after some of the Catalan players said they were out for "revenge" ahead of the game. "For me there is no rivalry, no animosity," said the 33-year-old defender.

"When we start the campaign we have common objectives, which are to win as many games as possible... we are peaceful, calm and determined.

"We know why we are coming here and what we want as a collective, we're making a lot of sacrifices as a squad and individually."