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Football Reporting


Camp Nou sellout will inspire other clubs

Barcelona defender Irene Paredes hopes selling out Camp Nou will serve as inspiration for other clubs ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final against Lyon.

Barca twice broke the attendance record in women’s football on their way to this weekend’s showpiece in Turin, with 91,553 fans watching their quarterfinal win over Real Madrid and 91,648 then present for the semifinal against Wolfsburg.

“It was amazing, we couldn’t believe it,” Paredes said. “Everyone was like: ‘Wow.’ We were wondering if all the people would come to the stadium that day and of course they did.

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“Inside we didn’t realise that much, but when I came off in 75th minute and sat on the bench, I was like: ‘Wow, this is huge.’

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“The second time, vs. Wolfsburg, was also a surprise because it was another new record. People could say it’s lucky, they gave a lot of tickets [away], but no, most people paid for the tickets. They came to cheer us on because they want to support us.

“The club are doing things really well, amazingly, and I hope the rest of the world is looking to us to try and do the same.”

Barca’s success on the pitch has fuelled the interest in the team, which translated into ticket sales for those two games.

After winning the Treble last season, including a first-ever Champions League trophy, they remain on track for a Quadruple this year after clinching the Spanish Supercopa and completing a perfect league season, winning all 30 matches.

However, they have never beaten Lyon, who had won five Champions Leagues in a row before Barca won the competition last year, which is fuelling the narrative heading into Saturday’s final.

A Lyon win would secure their place back at the top of European football, while Barca can establish themselves as the new dominant force in the game if they retain the trophy.

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“If we win the final and also against Lyon, knowing the importance Lyon have in Europe and in the world, it would be amazing, but it’s not about beating Lyon, it’s about winning two Champions Leagues in a row,” Paredes added.

“Of course, we want to win and it would add strength to keep fighting to become the best team in the world. But, if not, our season has been amazing and the club wants more. Win or lose, we will keep fighting hard to become the best.

“We don’t want to be the new Lyon, we just want to be the new champions. It’s true they have a huge history behind them. They have won seven Champions Leagues. That’s a huge thing, a lot of work, a lot of things behind that.

“But we are just focused on ourselves. This club won the Champions League last year. They have been fighting for many years for that and we want to keep going. But we don’t want to compare with any club. We want to be us, with our style, our football, our supporters. I think we are making history.”

Paredes, who joined Barca this season after ending Lyon’s run of 14 titles in a row in France with Paris Saint-Germain last year, hopes her experience will help on Saturday.

“I have played against Lyon many, many times,” she said. “They are one of the best clubs in the world, so it’s going to be really difficult, but my experience counts.

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“I have already talked with my teammates to tell them things maybe they don’t know about Lyon. I will try to use that for putting the score in our favour.”

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