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'I want to be the best': Ellie Carpenter's Euro dream

3 minute read

Matildas star Ellie Carpenter is chasing a Champions League final to remember as she sets her sights on a third continental title with Lyon.

ELLIE CARPENTER. Picture: Tony Feder/Getty Images.

For a player who already has two Champions League medals in her collection, it seems strange Ellie Carpenter is hoping it will be 'third time lucky' in her latest continental final.

But dig a little deeper and the sentiment attached to Carpenter's third tilt at the biggest prize in European club football makes sense.

Lyon defender Carpenter was an unused substitute in the 2019-20 final, then tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee 12 minutes into the French club's 2021-22 triumph over Barcelona.

"It feels like third time lucky, you know?" Carpenter told AAP, fresh off claiming a third successive Division 1 Feminine title in France.

"I'm not thinking too much about what's happened previously. I'm just really excited for the game.

"It's a game everyone wants to play in, everyone wants to win. It's the biggest one of them all."

Standing in Carpenter's way are Barcelona, who have their sights set on relieving Lyon of their long-held status as the world's best women's football team.

"They're really at the top of women's football when it comes to the best clubs in the world," Carpenter said.

"There's such a big rivalry between us and Barcelona. It's two of the best teams in the world.

"So it's going to be a great game, whatever happens - very end-to-end. There's world-class players on both teams, and both are experienced."

In the game, which kicks off in the Spanish city of Bilbao at 2am on Sunday AEST, right-back Carpenter is sure to have her hands full.

Mariona Caldentey and Salma Paralluelo - World Cup winners with Spain in 2023 - and Sweden international Fridolina Rolfo have all spent time on the left wing.

"I love coming up against world-class strikers, fullbacks. It's a challenge and it's something that excites you as a footballer," Carpenter said.

"You want to play in these games, the best games."

Then there's the prospect of the world's best player, superstar midfielder Aitana Bonmati, attempting to dance past her.

"She's a phenomenal player," Carpenter said.

"She's so good with the ball. She's instrumental to their team.

"If we can hopefully shut her down in the midfield, we have a lot of opportunity to counter attack with our frontline that's very rapid.

"I hope that we can get the ball and get forward a lot and break up some of their football they love to play."

Carpenter continues to mount her case as the best right-back in Europe, repeatedly stepping up in the big moments.

The energetic defender has become one of Lyon's most vocal and biggest characters, while at 24 she is already a vice-captain of her country.

"I want to keep getting better every season," she said.

"That's why I choose to stay here at Lyon. I develop a lot here with the players around me, with the coaches, at the high-level games we play.

"I am improving here. I can get better here, but for me nothing's good enough. I just want to keep getting better.

"I want to be the best right-back in the world.

"I want to keep pushing to be the best all the time and keep helping my team whenever I can."

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