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Barcelona 1-3 Olympique Lyonnais: When precision fails

Barcelona as a watch, doomed to lose time.

UEFA Women’s Champions League Final”Barcelona FC - Olympique Lyonnais” Photo by ANP via Getty Images

There was a moment when Aitana Bonmatí, with the ball at her toe, pivoted in space, white shirts closing her down as she spun around seeking a pass that simply wasn’t there. The midfielder was occupied by Lyon defenders as her teammates were, the precision mechanics of the Catalan defence uncomfortably disrupted. If Barcelona were a Swiss timepiece, Lyon were the sand and shards of broken glass jamming through the usually pristine gears.

That was, for the most part, the story of Barcelona’s night. Maybe given the slight edge by critics coming into the final, the Catalans failed to fully get going as they so often do. In some respects it was about margins, like the tiny margin for error on Amandine Henry’s eighth minute stunner. Or the margins in ideas and being able to convey them, of Barcelona players literally running into one another instead of one player running into space. It was too, about the marginal thickness of the crossbar, about a millimetre or two that would have seen Patri’s audacious chip slip under the woodwork instead of cannoning off of it.

Just like that expensive Swiss chronograph, if something is out of alignment, if just one of those tiny margins doesn’t adhere, the mechanics will fail. For Barcelona, it wasn’t one errant grain of sand that had invaded their system, it was a whole beachful.

Barcelona are a world class team but, just like every other team, they can be beaten, their weakness can be exposed and targeted. In Torino, Lyon mapped out how to defeat Barcelona, and even with the help of margins, their victory was no accident. They saw those clean watch gears and flooded them, making the entire mechanism of Barcelona seize up.

The match easy to compare to the final of 2019, but the two teams are much changed on and off the pitch just as their approaches have been evolved, but again, the outcome was the same: glory for Lyon and tears for Barcelona.