Karen Carney exclusive: UWCL 'been done with class and really well-organised'

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Wolfsburg and Lyon are set to face each other in the UEFA Women’s Champions League final for the fourth time.

The last round of the competition will take place on August 30 as holders Olympique Lyonnais will try to extend their own record by reaching five consecutive Champions League titles.

Football FanCast spoke with BT Sport pundit and former England international Karen Carney ahead of Sunday’s fixture.

“The football that’s been out there has been really good,” the ex-Chelsea star said. “It’s exciting and I think BT Sport have done a great job with putting it out there. It looks classy, it feels like the men’s Champions League.

“It’s been really well-televised and it’s been done right. That’s what the women’s game deserves.”

Whilst the men’s Champions League run resumed following the break in play, things weren’t as straightforward for the female players. After the abrupt end of the Women’s Super League and Championship seasons, there was uncertainty over whether the European campaign would continue from where it left off back in October.

However, after a long ten months, Lyon have their chance to defend their crown. The French giants will play out their ninth UWCL final in 11 years and are one hurdle away from their seventh title.

Lyon vie for Fifth Consecutive UWCL Title

“I’ve been impressed by Lyon,” reflected Carney. “It’s really hard when you’re the top team and everyone’s trying to knock you off that pedestal but they’ve been classy and just gone about their business.

“I don’t think they’ve played particularly well and they’ve missed a couple of players, but they get the job done. I’m really looking forward to the final.”

Indeed, Jean-Luc Vasseur’s side have been without the clinical influence of Ada Hegerberg after she suffered an ACL injury back in January. Teammate Nikita Parris is also set to miss out on the final after being sent off in the previous round against Paris Saint-Germain.

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Wolfsburg were successful in brushing aside semi-final rivals Barcelona following a narrow 1-0 victory. Lyon similarly scraped their way into the final after a tense affair. Along with Parris, PSG’s Grace Geyoro was shown red and the reigning champions capitalised from a set-piece to book their place in the final.

“I don’t think it’ll be plain sailing [for Lyon], I think Wolfsburg have got some key players who will cause problems,” Carney predicted. “Set pieces are going to be massive. Lyon have only scored one goal [in the competition] through open play and that’s because they haven’t got Ada Hegerberg.

“They miss Hegerberg and that focal point. Someone who is going to be there in the right place at the right time and I think that’s the one little piece of the jigsaw that they’re missing this season.

“But when you’ve got a squad like Lyon’s, they will make up goals elsewhere and they’ve done that through set pieces and grinding teams down with their performances.”

Equal Champions League Opportunities

Carney has highlighted how important it was for UEFA to ensure both Champions League competitions resumed following the break. The England centurion feared it would be ‘a bit of a step backwards’ if the UWCL was declared null and void.

“It’s massive. If the men’s can go ahead then the women’s can,” she said. “I really like how they’ve made a big effort to make that happen, it’s been done with class and it’s been really well-organised.”

Carney went on to discuss the return of the WSL, England’s top flight of domestic women’s football. The upcoming season promises to be an exciting one with blockbuster signings like US internationals Rose Lavelle and Samantha Mewis being announced.

Lyon full-back partners Alex Greenwood and Lucy Bronze have also been linked with moves back to the WSL. The Telegraph recently reported that a double swoop from Manchester City will see the duo leave the French outfit this summer.

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“The competition in the WSL is going to be fierce,” Carney said. “The WSL is going to be the best league out there. You’re getting people from America, from all over the world wanting to come and play in England.”

On whether the sport is on the rise in terms of viewer numbers, the 33-year-old said: “Yes, there is more to be done and more that can be done but I think it’s definitely moving in the right direction and given the circumstances, it’s doing really well.”

Watch the UEFA Women’s Champions League Final exclusively live from 6:30pm on BT Sport 1. Also watch for free via the BT Sport app, btsport.com, or BT Sport’s YouTube, Twitter and Facebook pages.

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