Catarina Macario admits Lyon are out to prove they’re still Europe’s “top dogs” ahead of Saturday night’s Women’s Champions League Final against Barcelona.
The French side go into the game against the defending champions as slight underdogs with bookmakers despite being the most successful club in the competition’s history.
“A lot of other teams have been really good this year so I think OL has almost been slept on in a way,” Macario exclusively told Sky Sports News.
“If you look at the history of the Champions League it’s just Lyon, Lyon, Lyon essentially. I think it’s outstanding to see the growth of women’s football but we’re very much still here and very much the top dogs.”
Saturday’s final in Turin promises to be one for the ages.
Lyon are seven-time champions, including five in-a-row before Barcelona ended their winning run last season.
The Catalan side, however, have never beaten Lyon. Their most famous defeat was a 4-1 blowout in the 2019 Final, something seen in Barcelona as the catalyst and motivation for the success that’s followed.
Both teams come into this game in Turin with unbeaten domestic records this season. Lyon have won 19 of their 20 league games this season, Barcelona finished the Spanish season with 30 wins in 30 matches.
“They’re a great team, they’re obviously well-coached and it’s going to be a great game to play,” Macario says about her opponents.
“But, at the end of the day, we’re also Lyon so I feel it’s a battle of the best teams in Europe. You have the reigning champions and the biggest champions of all-time, so it’s going to be one for the history books.”
Saturday’s game at Juventus’ Allianz Stadium is Macario’s first-ever final as a professional.
A stellar college career in the States saw the Brazil-born forward forgo her final year at university to join Lyon 18 months ago but she admits she struggled when she first came to France during the pandemic.
This season has seen Macario flourish, coming into Saturday’s final as her team’s top scorer and an embedded starter for the US national team.
“Coming to a new country is always different, as is coming from college to professional football. It took some time to get used to.
“Covid died down a little and now it actually feels like my home, which makes a difference. It took some time but we made it.”
A key to Lyon gaining their eighth Champions League trophy may well be the return to fitness of former Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg.
The Norwegian scored a hat-trick when Lyon beat their Spanish rivals to win the competition three years ago and Macario admits having her back from her 20-month injury lay-off is vital.
“I feel like saying she’s good is such an understatement. I don’t even know how to describe her, her work rate is incredible.
“To be a young player and have someone to look up to like Ada is just a dream come true really and I’m grateful to be around the best of the best every day.
“She’s Ada, she’s a complete monster but off the pitch she’s very elegant, very much a hugger and like a mom to me. She’s someone you should definitely get to know.”
Follow the Women’s Champions League final on the Sky Sports App and SkySports.com from 5pm on Saturday