The Story of women’s football’s most dominant side: Olympique Lyon

Olympique Lyonnais

Olympique Lyonnais are chasing their 15th straight Division 1 title this season and currently find themselves sitting in 2nd place, just a point behind the league leaders PSG. The Lyon Women's team is the most successful club side in history, establishing themselves as a dominant force both domestically and in European competition.

In the Beginning

Before becomingOlympique Lyonnais Féminin in 2004, the club was founded as FC Lyon in 1970 and claimed four league titles between 1991-1998. Over the past 17-years, the Lyon women's team have established themselves as the best club side in the world, breaking records and dominating the women's game.Olympique Lyonnais claimed their first league title under their new name in 2007, finishing 7pts clear of Montpellier in 2nd and only losing one and drawing one of their 22 matches. Thus began Olympique Lyonnais' total dominance of Division 1.

Record-Breaking Champions

Since claiming their first league title as Olympique Lyonnais during the 2006/07 campaign, Lyon have won 14 top division titles on the run, not only breaking the record for most consecutive titles but also smashing the record for most titles won altogether. VGA Saint-Maur, FCF Juvisy and Paris FC have all claimed 6 top division titles in women's football between 1983-2006, but Lyon have gone on to more than double those totals in what has been an amazing period in the club's short history.

Olympique Lyonnais entered the Guinness Book of Wolrd Records in 2013 after the club secured 41 consecutive wins in league and cup between 28th April 2012 to the 18th May 2013. The club have also won a record 9 Coupe de France titles since 2008 and claimed the Trophee des Championnes in 2019.

During this spell of constant success, Sandrine Bretigny proved one of the club's best-ever players, netting 211 goals in 241 appearances between 2000-2012. Bretigny's best season arrived in 2006/07 during the club's first title success asOlympique Lyonnais in which she played in all 22 league games and scored an amazing 42 goals.

In more recent years,Olympique Lyonnais have relied upon the goals of Norwegian international, Ada Hegerberg. Hegerberg signed for the club in 2014 from Turbine Potsdam in Germany and proved an immediate success. During her first season, Hegerberg netted 34 goals in 32 games and has only failed to score more goals than games played in a season in two of her six campaigns with the club, which includes last season even though it was cut short due to the global pandemic.

Lyon were crowned champions last season despite only 16-games being played. PSG were only 3pts behind Lyon at that stage of the season and had only lost one game, so may well have felt aggrieved that the title was handed to their arch-rivals. Lyon didn't lose a game on their way to the title last season and if you include that shortened campaign, the club have won ten of their fourteen Division 1 titles without losing. The 2010/11 season was the first in which Lyon won all 22 matches, a feat the club repeated in 2012/13 and 2014/15. It is almost unheard of for a team to win every single game in a domestic season, so to win three titles in this style just shows what a forceOlympique Lyonnais have been in the women's game.

Making their Name in Europe

Lyon secured their first Champions League title in 2010/11, beating Turbine Potsdam 2-0 at Craven Cottage, making their name known throughout Europe with this victory. However, the club had played in the previous three Champions League tournaments without success and some had started to wonder if they would ever extend their dominance across Europe.

In the 2007/08 season, Lyon made it through to the Semi-Finals of the Champions League, hammering Slovan Duslo Sal'a, Skiponjat Struga and SFK Sarajevo in the first qualifying round.The second qualifying round proved a much tighter and tenser affair with Lyon drawing 0-0 with Brondby before beating Kolbotn 1-0 and Sparta Prague 2-1. Next up for Lyon was a Quarter-Final tie against Arsenal where a 3-2 away win for the French side proved enough to secure safe passage through to the Semi-Finals, following a goalless draw in the 2nd leg. Swedish side Umea stood in the way of Lyon and their first-ever appearances in the Champions League final. The two sides drew 0-0 in Sweden and 1-1 in France which proved heart-breaking for Lyon as they exited the tournament via the away goals rule.

The following season, Lyon reached the Semi-Final stage of the Champions League once again, defeating Neulengbach, FC Zurich, Arsenal and Verona along the way. German side Duisburg beat Lyon 3-1 at home and then secured a 1-1 draw in France to progress to the final 4-2 on aggregate and once again Lyon failed to make their mark on the European stage. However, the club returned the following season with plenty of motivation and once again found themselves in the Semi-Finals. Lyon negotiated their way past Masinac Nis, Fortuna Hjorring and Torres Sassari before coming up against their old enemy, Umea, in the last four. Lyon secured a goalless draw in Sweden, just like they did two season's earlier, but this time they ran out 3-2 winners in France and made it through to their first-ever European final. Turbine Potsdam of Germany provided the opposition in Madrid, where a tight and tense match finished goalless after 90-minutes and extra-time. sadly, Lyon lost out 7-6 on penalties and once again the dominant force of French football failed to put its name on the Champions League trophy but had established themselves as a real player on the European circuit.

European Success

Lyon made it through to their second successive Champions League final in 2010/11, where they once again went up against German side Turbine Potsdam. This time goals from Renard and Dickenmann secured Lyon the European glory they had so desperately wanted, establishing the club as a genuine force of women's European football.

Lyon didn't rest on their lorels and were back for a third straight Champions League final the following season. A German club provided the opposition once again, but this time it was Frankfurt that stood in the way of Lyon and back-to-back Champions League titles. Lyon secured a 2-0 win in Munich and only conceded one goal during the entire tournament, a result and performance that made them the team to beat in Europe.

Following a defeat to Wolfsburg in the following Champions League final, Lyon wenton to win five Champions League titles on the run between 2016-2020, beating Wolfsburg three times, Barcelona once and even fellow French club PSG on one occasion. Those wins mean that Lyon are now the most successful club in European football with 7 Champions League titles, followed by Frankfurt on 4. To achieve such dominance domestically and in European competition in such a short space of time is unheard of in football and this team only looks like it will go on to break their own records in the years to come.

To look for best betting tips on Champions League read our article on UEFA Champions League predictions.

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Gavin Davison

Gavin is a full-time copywriter based in the UK and has developed in-depth knowledge of the igaming world by working in the betting industry for over five years. During this time, he has written thousands of articles covering various topics, including bookmaker reviews, ‘how to’ guides, bonus comparisons and much more.