The World’s Most Dominant Team Isn’t Who You Think

For many in ladies’s soccer, the reference level in United States sports activities is one thing else completely: each Emma Hayes, the coach of Chelsea, the workforce Lyon narrowly beat on this 12 months’s Champions League semifinals, and Phil Neville, the England nationwide workforce coach, name Lyon the Harlem Globetrotters. This is a membership that doesn’t lose. It is essentially the most dominant — and presumably the most effective — sports activities workforce on the planet.

Much of that, in fact, is right down to the standard of participant at its disposal, to Aulas’s dedication since he launched the ladies’s workforce in 2004 to accumulate the game’s brightest stars. The squad, now, accommodates not solely Ada Hegerberg, the inaugural winner of the ladies’s Ballon d’Or because the world’s finest participant, however the spine of France’s workforce for this 12 months’s World Cup, Dzsenifer Marozsán, the captain of Germany, and Saki Kumagai, the captain of Japan. Its record of alumnae is, if something, much more spectacular: Camille Abily, Louisa Nécib, Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan.

It has created a virtuous circle: Players need to be part of not simply because it’s acknowledgment of their standing, however as a result of they know that coaching at — by no means thoughts taking part in for — Lyon affords a quick monitor to self-improvement.

“Alex went to France to grow as a footballer and challenge herself every day,” stated Dan Levy, Morgan’s agent. “She did that by playing with many of the best players in the world each day. Winning championships was wonderful, the training facilities were first class, but the secret of their success is that — by accumulating so many amazing players — they have created the perfect training environment.”

But simply as vital is the membership’s tradition. Bronze confesses to being slightly “star-struck” on her first day, strolling right into a dressing room populated by so many well-known faces — “people I knew straightaway just by their surnames” — however quickly discovered there was no concrete hierarchy to be navigated, no deference anticipated. “They all came over to introduce themselves,” she stated. “They are the most humble group of people I have ever met.”

The membership, although, doesn’t deal with them like that. When Lyon’s gamers departed for Budapest on Friday morning, they had been pushed to the airport and straight onto the tarmac, the place they boarded a chartered jet. A second aircraft had been commissioned to hold relations and companions to the match. When they landed, the Lyon workforce bus — which set off, overland, earlier this week — was there to fulfill them.

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