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MATCH INFO:

Juventus vs Olympique Lyonnais: UEFA Champions League – Leg 1 – Round of 32

Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy

Kickoff: December 9th, 2020, at 9:00 a.m. EST

The UEFA Champions League is back, with the knockout round beginning this week as 32 of the best teams in Europe gear up to compete for the most prestigious prize in club football.

With the first legs of the Round of 32 matches set to be played on December 9th and 10th, there are several highly anticipated matchups which promise to deliver the usual Champions League fireworks. But no matchup looks to be bigger than that between Juventus and Olympique Lyonnais, the first leg of which will take place in Turin, Italy.

Juve currently tops the Serie A table and has won the league title the last three seasons. That’s a pretty good resume, until you compare it to Lyon’s. The 14-time defending French league champs have won the Champions League title the past five years and seven times overall. They begin their latest title defense looking to cement their status as one of the dynasties the sport has ever seen.

Olympique Lyonnais is considered the best and most successful women’s football club in the world. In the past decade, Lyon has won over 25 trophies, and given the money, resources, and development that the club has put into their current squad and coaching staff, it doesn’t look like their winning ways are stopping anytime soon.

Last year, Juventus was knocked out in the Round of 32 by Barcelona, who made it all the way to the semi-finals. A disappointing result, but for a club that was only founded in 2017, Juventus has made great strides both domestically and in Europe.

When the Champions League comes along, teams dread being drawn against Lyon. For the past five years, it has meant a quick ticket out of the competition. Lyon’s history, experience, and strength on the pitch makes them almost impossible to beat.

If Juventus wants to advance to the Round of 16, the team will likely need to mimic what Paris Saint-Germain did against Lyon in late November of this year. PSG were able to shock Lyon in a Division 1 Féminine match, beating them 1-0.

Lyon’s defeat was more than just a loss to a rival; it was their first league defeat in four years. Before the match, Lyon sat atop the Division 1 Féminine standings, with Paris one point behind them. After the loss, Lyon moved to second, and have stayed behind PSG since.

Juventus not only has a gameplan to mimic, but they can take solace in the fact that Lyon has been playing a full-strength XI every week in hopes of catching up with Paris Saint-Germain. In contrast, Juventus, with nine wins in nine matches played, has been able to rest key players in the build-up to this match.

Fans of both teams will be hoping that they have enough to beat the other, of course, but neutrals will be hoping for a classic matchup that showcases all of the usual drama we’ve come to associate with the UEFA Champions League. Whatever happens during this tie, one of Europe’s best teams will be crashing out in the Round of 32.

Other exciting matchups in this round include Ajax vs Bayern Munich and PSV Eindhoven vs Barcelona. FAWSL teams Chelsea and Manchester City will likewise take on SL Benfica and Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC respectively, while last season’s runner ups, VfL Wolfsburg, will take on ŽFK Spartak Subotica.