Barcelona was crowned champion of the Champions League on Saturday with a 2-0 win over Lyon in Bilbao.

Alexia "La Reina" Putellas, who recently re-signed with Barcelona, came off the bench to score the team's second goal. Fellow Ballon d’Or winner Aitana Bonmatí provided the team’s first. After the game, defender Lucy Bronze said Putellas was nicknamed "the queen" for a reason.

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"Alexia is the captain of the team and she's the queen of Barcelona for a reason,"  defender Lucy Bronze told DAZN. "She's got the quality to do that in the last minute of the Champions League final when we were up against it at the end and it just sealed the win for us. It was amazing."

The victory marked Barcelona's first win over Lyon in a UWCL final, having previously gone up against the French side at both the 2019 and 2022 Champions League finals. It's also Barcelona's second Champions League title in a row.

"It's hard to win it once, but to do it back-to-back, Lyon showed how difficult it is and this team has finally done that," Bronze said. "I think we go down in history as one of the best teams in Europe."

This season, the team also secured a quadruple for the first time in club history, having already won Liga F, the Copa de la Reina, and the Spanish Supercopa. The win ensures that coach Jonatan Giráldez — who has officially departed the team to join the NWSL's Washington Spirit — leaves Europe a champion.

"It was an incredible game. I am really happy, it's one of the best days of my life for sure," Giráldez told broadcaster DAZN after the game. "We did an amazing job. I am very proud of all of them."

Following the win, Putellas said her team "can't ask for anything else."

"Our objective was to win four out of four," the Spain international told reporters. "We have achieved everything we wanted. Every minute of sacrifice has been worth the effort — and I'd say that not after the game, but before, just entering in the stadium, with all the support we had here, it was worth it."

2024 Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Aitana Bonmatí said that the crowd support made it "feel like Camp Nou."

"I am on cloud nine right now," she said. "It is an historic day which we will remember forever."

The UEFA Women's Champions League final kicks off in Bilbao on Saturday, with a couple of familiar foes set to face off for the trophy.

Olympique Lyonnais Féminin, making its 11th final appearance since 2010, will go head to head with a Barcelona side making its fourth final appearance in a row.

This will be the third time these two teams meet in the UWCL title game, having previously appeared in the 2019 and 2022 finals. Lyon won both of those prior games against Barcelona, alongside a total of eight Champions League trophies. That’s double that of any other club, with Eintracht Frankfurt coming in a distant second with four. 

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Should Barcelona win, this would be the team's third title — breaking a tie for the third in the UWCL total titles race. 

But as these teams return to the UWCL final, it also marks the end of an era for both clubs. The game will be the last for both club managers, as Barcelona’s Jonatan Giráldez and Lyon’s Sonia Bompastor depart for new jobs after the season's end.

Giráldez is set to leave for the NWSL's Washington Spirit, while Bompastor will take over for incoming USWNT coach Emma Hayes at Chelsea. Both coaches have earned one UWCL trophy during their tenures, while Bompastor also brought two Champions League trophies to Lyon as a player. She was the first coach to win a UWCL trophy as both a coach and player.

This season, Barcelona is looking for its first quadruple, having won a fifth Liga F title alongside the Copa de La Reina, and the Spanish Supercopa. 

"We hope he can go out with the four trophies because we know how competitive and ambitious he is," Barcelona midfielder Patri Guijarro told ESPN. "It has been a winning era with him in charge and for him to go out with all four trophies would be historic and incredible."

But Lyon's Damaris Egurrola is excited about her team's chances of overcoming Barcelona once again — and to do it in front of family and friends.

"Lyon have something special," she told Forbes ahead of the weekend's final. "We have a great team and we have the players with enough talent to win any match."

The game will be a homecoming for Egurrola, who began her professional career with Athletic Bilbao.

"I’ve been thinking of this day and night," she said. "I’ve been dreaming of playing this match. Having the opportunity to play in San Mames is amazing. This is where it all started for me."

The UEFA Women's Champions League final kicks off Saturday, May 25th at 12 PM ET and is free to stream on DAZN.

U.S. women’s national team star and captain Lindsey Horan was sent off on Thursday in Lyon’s Champions League matchup against Brann, which ended in a 2-2 draw.

After colliding with Brann’s Karoline Haugland, Horan got into it with Haugland and the referee. Initially, the referee had shown a yellow card to Horan, but it was subsequently upgraded to a red card. The removal of Horan forced Lyon down to 10 players and Brann equalized in stoppage time to secure a point.

Lyon held a 2-0 lead at one point in the match and were up 2-1 at the time of Horan’s red card. The draw ended Lyon’s stellar start to the season, in which they won 15 consecutive games.

Following the match, Lyon manager Sonia Bompastor said the referee had misunderstood the situation, and who Horan was yelling at.

“[Horan] is fouled from behind, she is a player who suffers a lot of fouls, she has already had injuries due to these tackles from behind, she was scared,” Bompastor told reporters. “She said ‘my f—ing knee’ in English. The referee understood that she was talking to her, she thought Lindsay had insulted her.”

The game marked Horan’s first start for Lyon in just over three weeks. She had missed some time due to an ankle sprain, according to the club.

Olympique Lyonnais and U.S. women’s national team midfielder Lindsey Horan wants to see more of her U.S. teammates playing in international leagues.

Horan is one of just three current USWNT players outside of the NWSL, with Catarina Macario and Mia Fishel playing under new USWNT head coach Emma Hayes at Chelsea. Horan has played for Lyon since 2022 after joining the club on loan from the Portland Thorns. She also spent time with Paris Saint-Germain from 2012 to 2016.

The 29-year-old midfielder was the lone player on the USWNT’s World Cup roster who played for a European club, with the other 22 playing in the NWSL.

Macario used to play alongside Horan at Lyon before joining Chelsea in the offseason. Fishel, meanwhile, joined Chelsea from Liga MX’s Tigres. Several USWNT stars, including Alex Morgan, have played for European clubs in the past, and several players have expressed interest in moving abroad in the future, Horan told Pro Soccer Wire.

“I’ve heard of [American] players wanting to [move to Europe],” Horan said. “Obviously, it’s comfortable in the NWSL and I won’t take anything away from the league, but for me, [playing abroad] has always been a growing point in my career. When I went to PSG, it was massive for me and then coming back to Lyon was even a bigger jump. I get to play with some of the best international players in the world.”

For Horan, the opportunity to play in the UEFA Women’s Champions League is unlike anything available in the NWSL — though Gotham FC’s Esther González recently said that every NWSL game is at the level of the Champions League.

“It’s not a knock on the NWSL, but you’re just not going and playing in the Champions League,” Horan said. “That’s something that I missed out on when I was at Portland because it’s just insane.”

Players moving to European leagues could become more common under the newly-minted USWNT coach, as Hayes has spent 12 years with Chelsea.

“There is still a huge amount of talent in this U.S. team,” Hayes wrote in a column for The Telegraph during the World Cup. “But with so many of the squad playing solely in the NWSL, it doesn’t offer enough diversity to their squad in terms of playing against different styles.”

Horan would like to see more USWNT players expand their playing horizons.

“It’s just a different kind of exposure that you get, a different level that you get,” Horan said. “I really hope that there’s more, especially younger players, that want to go overseas.”

Lindsey Horan is excited about the investment Michele Kang could bring to Olympique Lyonnais.

Kang, who already owns the NWSL’s Washington Spirit, is set to become the majority owner of the Lyon women’s team. In an interview with Pro Soccer Wire, Horan said that she’s met Kang “many times” and called her “amazing.”

“And I think her aspirations and the things that she’s doing in the world are insane,” the Lyon midfielder said. “She’s not just saying things to say them, or to hope that it could happen, she’s going and making them happen. What she’ll do with Lyon is going to be absolutely incredible.”

As she prepares to take control of the club, Kang has been vocal about her goals, which include building the women’s team its own training center. Kang also is exploring the possibility of repurposing a local rugby venue as the team’s home stadium.

Not many women’s teams have their own training facilities or their own stadiums. The NWSL’s Kansas City Current opened their own training complex in 2022, and they are in the process of building the first women’s soccer-specific stadium.

“Our team isn’t just attached to the men’s team,” Horan told Pro Soccer Wire. “Our team is in itself its own. To see some of these teams around the world now having their own training facilities, having their own stadiums — that’s what they deserve.

“We women work just as hard and we’re professionals just as much as the men. So at least we should have our own training facility. We should have all access to the things that we need, that I’m pretty sure most men’s clubs get, and to have our own stadium would be incredible as well.”

Lyon is set to kick off the UEFA Champions League group stage at 3 p.m. ET Tuesday. The six-match group stage runs through the end of January, with 16 teams divided into four groups. Lyon is in Group B with Austria’s St. Pölten, Norway’s SK Brann and the Czech Republic’s SK Slavia Prague.

Lindsey Horan is the lone U.S. women’s national team player to receive a nomination for the 2023 Best FIFA Women’s Player award.

The 29-year-old co-captain scored two goals for the USWNT at the 2023 World Cup, tied with the team’s lone Ballon d’Or nominee Sophia Smith. No other U.S. player scored a goal at the tournament in Australia and New Zealand. Horan also starts in midfield for French club Lyon in Division 1 Féminine.

Alexia Putellas, who won the 2021 and 2022 Best Player awards, is notably absent from the 2023 list after spending the last year recovering from an ACL tear. Beth Mead and Alex Morgan, the runners-up for the 2022 award, also failed to make the cut. Mead has been out since December 2022 with an ACL tear.

World Cup champion Spain counted four nominees, including Aitana Bonmati, who won the Golden Ball at the World Cup, as well as Jenni Hermoso, Mapi Leon and Salma Paralluelo.

England tied Spain with four nominees, with Rachel Daly leading the way. Alex Greenwood, Lauren James and Keira Walsh also are nominated.

Australia star Sam Kerr received a nod, and she is joined by two fellow Matildas in Caitlin Foord and Mary Fowler. Colombia’s Linda Caicedo, France’s Kadidiatou Diani, Sweden’s Amanda Illestedt and Japan’s Hinata Miyazawa, the World Cup Golden Boot winner, round out the nominees.

Nominees for the Best Coach award include England’s Sarina Wiegman, who won the award last year, Australia’s Tony Guastavsson and Sweden’s Peter Gerhardsson. Two club coaches also received nominations: Chelsea’s Emma Hayes and FC Barcelona’s Jonatan Giráldez.

England’s Mary Earps is once again nominated for Best Goalkeeper and is looking to win the award in back-to-back years. She’s joined by Mackenzie Arnold (Australia), Ann-Katrin Berger (Germany), Christiane Endler (Chile), Zecira Musovic (Sweden), Catalina Coll (Spain) and Sandra Paños (Spain).

Washington Spirit owner Michele Kang has big goals for women’s soccer.

After acquiring a majority stake in the Spirit in 2022, Kang is set to take control of the Olympique Lyonnais women’s team within the next month. And she expects to add at least one more team to the fold by the end of the year, with the eventual goal to own at least one team on each continent, she told ESPN.

“Women’s soccer around the world needs investment,” Kang told ESPN. “It’s not just the U.S. For us to take women’s soccer to the next level — Europe, Asia, South America, Latin America — they all need to come up. I wanted to accelerate that trend.”

By focusing on women’s soccer teams as independent businesses, rather then sharing identities and operations with men’s teams, Kang believes she can change the game.

Take performance training. Kang wants her clubs to train “women as women,” tailoring programs to their physiology rather than copy-and-pasting approaches from men’s sports. Women’s soccer has seen an alarming number of injuries in the last year, particularly ACL tears, yet research specific to women athletes is rare.

Dawn Scott, who joined the Spirit last November as senior director of performance, has held similar positions with the U.S. and England women’s national teams. She raised the alarm over the lack of research soon after joining the Spirit, and she is leading a group of 14 employees with the Spirit to bring a fresh approach to the team.

Kang sees in Scott’s performance staff the potential for ideas and tools that could be shared across all the teams in her new women’s soccer organization.

“We’re going to create some sort of an innovation lab,” Kang said. “It’s going to be dedicated, the staff and everything else, toward the Spirit. To some extent, because we started (with) the Spirit, this is going to be where we start developing most of the things. All the methodology, training methodology, all that stuff will be shared. Staff will go back and forth and will train the trainers.

“Other teams will have their own team (of staff) and we will localize. We’re not just going to say one size fits all, but here is some basic science, basic technology, things that have worked. Let’s customize it to make it work. There are some differences in European-style football vs. American, so we’re going to customize the fundamental science, technology, research. It will be all shared and then we’ll figure out how to spread those methodologies so that everyone can benefit from what we are investing in.”

Kang also has plans to build training facilities. For Lyon, that means creating a facility dedicated to the women’s team to take the place of the current facility shared with the men’s team. For the Spirit, that will mean building a permanent training facility by 2025 or 2026, a luxury for a team that has spent years bouncing between venues.

“The idea is that the same design will be transported to Lyon for the women’s team,” Kang told ESPN. “Whatever team, we will clearly have to customize a little bit, but the idea is that level of training center, performance center is going to be made available for every team under our umbrella, so if you walk into Spirit or Lyon, the training center will look the same inside and they’ll have access to the best technology, best equipment, best medical care, nutrition.”

While Parsons told ESPN he is “100% all-in” on focusing on the Spirit, and that nothing will change with the new club being under shared ownership, he came on as coach with the knowledge of what Kang hoped to build.

“What Michele has also done is made clear that this isn’t just two clubs — there will be more clubs,” Parsons said. “I knew that before I joined — not which clubs and which countries, but this is the model, this is the vision.”

While certain best practices will be shared, each team will have its own identity.

“I want to make sure that each team is champion in its own country,” Kang said. “We’re not sacrificing one team for the benefit of another. We’re going to give everything and anything that each team needs to be successful. They’ll maintain their own identity, fandom — those are all very local, not central, or global.”

Lindsey Horan’s decision to stay with Olympique Lyonnais became official Thursday, as the Portland Thorns transferred her to the French club.

The U.S. women’s national team midfielder joined Lyon on an 18-month loan in January 2022 after six seasons with Portland in the NWSL. The loan expired this month, but the teams worked out a deal to keep her in Division 1 Féminine.

Lyon paid a transfer fee of €250,000 (approximately $274,000) to keep Horan in the fold, plus a potential €50,000 (approximately $54,750) in performance bonuses, per a news release. Her contract with the Thorns ran through the 2025 NWSL season, while her new deal with Lyon will keep her with the club through the 2025-26 European season.

In 88 regular-season appearances for the Thorns, Horan contributed 25 goals and and nine assists, and she won NWSL MVP in 2018.

“Portland holds such a special place in my heart,” Horan said in a release from the Thorns. “I made many incredible memories I will never forget. On top of that, I also had the opportunity to win multiple trophies and share that success with so many amazing people.

The transfer comes in a big week for the 29-year-old, who got engaged to her boyfriend Tyler Heaps and was named to the USWNT World Cup roster.

Lindsey Horan will remain with Olympique Lyonnais even after her loan from the Portland Thorns expires.

The U.S. women’s national team midfielder joined Lyon in January 2022 after six seasons with Portland in the NWSL. Her contract with the Thorns runs through 2025, while her loan spell is set to expire in June.

While the two sides are still ironing out the details, Horan is expected to stay with the French club following the conclusion of her loan, Lyon manager Sonia Bompastor said Tuesday. It remains unclear what that will look like, whether an extension of her loan or a full transfer to the French club.

Prior to joining the Thorns, the Colorado native spent four years with Paris Saint-Germain. She then returned to the United States, making 87 appearances for the Thorns and scoring 25 goals.

She has made 32 appearances for Lyon in the Champions League and in Division 1 Feminine while on loan, notching seven goals.

Washington Spirit owner Michele Kang will oversee a new women’s soccer organization that will include her NWSL club and Olympique Lyonnais Féminin.

She sees in the merger an opportunity to make both clubs “stronger,” she told the Washington Post after the announcement of the new venture Tuesday afternoon. She also attempted to assuage any fears Spirit fans might have.

“I want to make sure that they understand, this is not taking anything away from the Spirit,” Kang said. “This is to make every team even stronger by pulling some of the resources, but local identity, local investment will continue to remain strong.”

Kang reached an agreement with Olympique Lyonnais leadership to form the women’s soccer organization, with Kang as the majority owner and CEO. The group plans to expand to include multiple women’s clubs around the world, The Athletic reported.

The move comes a little more than 13 months after Kang officially acquired majority stake in the Spirit in March 2022. The new organization will be the first woman-owned, multi-club organization of its kind, the Washington Post reported.

“This is not just about the Spirit. This is not just about OL. This is about bringing women’s soccer to that level so that young girls growing up all around the world can see it and be inspired and say, ‘I’m going to go into professional soccer,’” Kang said.

OL Groupe, which holds controlling interests in the Lyon women’s and men’s teams as well as NWSL club OL Reign, was acquired by U.S. businessman John Textor in December.

In April, OL Groupe announced its plans to sell OL Reign but denied a report that Kang would purchase the Lyon’s women’s team. With the new organization, Kang will hold a 52% stake in the women’s team, while OL Groupe will hold the remaining 48%.

The decision to sell OL Reign came before Kang’s involvement, Kang told The Athletic, and not due to the potential conflict of interest from a connection to two different NWSL teams. Still, the plan is to have a “clear firewall” in place between Kang and the OL Reign during the sale, she said.

The merger of the Washington Spirit and Lyon into one organization is not yet official, with an anticipated closing date of June 30. Still, Kang is already making plans. The teams will maintain separate identities and local infrastructure, but the umbrella organization will allow for centralized infrastructure and support, she said.

“We will invest in the tools, resources and communities for each team to win their respective championships, season after season, while respecting the history and culture of each club,” Kang said in a statement.