2025 Champions League Final - Dunloy v Olympique Lyonnais
Here we are again, the 2nd Champions League final appearance in 3 seasons for Dunloy, this time against a very impressive Olympique Lyonnais side - all of their starting XI (and 4 of their 7 subs) are international players for either France, Brazil, Argentina or Spain, and they have an average value of $37M. This compared to Dunloy, which only has one current international (keeper Ray Ross, who is England's 3rd choice keeper), and an average value of only $8M. On paper, Olympique Lyonnais have it all over Dunloy, but as we know from two years ago, when Dunloy almost pulled off an upset, anything can happen.
Before we kickoff, let's have a look at the two players identified as key players for the match ahead:
Dunloy - Ray Ross
: In his first season at Dunloy after 8 seasons at Chelsea, the Dunloy keeper and 3rd choice English keeper has been amazing keeping 42 clean sheets from 59 games, and having a look at his attributes it's no wonder why! At 23, he has already earned 19 English caps. Valued at $12M, he is the second most valuable Dunloy player, and earning $34k per week he is also one of the higher wage earners.
Olympique Lyonnais - Bernard Thiebaud
: The 24 year old French defender was a youth product for Olympique Lyonnais, and he is an absolute beast. Just looking at his physical stats, he has 18+ for Acceleration (20), Balance, Pace (19 each), Agility and Stamina (18 each), making him the fastest thing on the football field, and unfortunately his technical and mental attributes are equally impressive. He has also earned 55 international caps for France (debuting at a record 19 years old). Valued at $76M, he is the 2nd most valuable player in the world, and earning $135k per week, he earns more than twice as much at the highest Dunloy earner. He has been shortlisted for the last 5 World Golden Balls, winning in 2023. He has also been included in the European Championship dream team and Champions League Dream Team in the past.
Time for the kickoff in the biggest game in Europe, Dunloy is lining up with the usual attacking 4-2-2 (really a 4-2-2-2, with an AML and AMR), whilst Olympique Lyonnais lining up with a standard 4-4-2
26th Minute: Olympique Lyonnais have the ball in the center of the field, and a couple of nice passes later they have the ball just outside the 18 yard box. A pass is played into the box, however Dunloy defender Hughes and keeper Ross both look to have it covered... although they both go for the ball, and defender Hughes only managed to kick the ball into his teammate and it bounces free to Olympique Lyonnais striker Colonnette, who can't believe his luck as he passes the ball into an empty net for the first goal of the match, terrible communication by the Dunloy defence! Dunloy 0 - Olympique Lyonnais 1
33rd Minute: Dunloy now with a free kick in their attacking third of the pitch. Striker Ince hits a great free kick into the 6 yard box, defender Hughes rises up and directs a header goal ward, but a diving save by the OL keeper Areola sees the ball pushed away into the path of Dunloy midfielder Clemence, who fires the ball straight into the sprawled keeper, the ball bounces off the keeper, then off OL defender Hernandez, and into the goal! An own goal by OL has leveled the scores, great pressure by Dunloy to create that goal! Dunloy 1 - Olympique Lyonnais 1
End of First Half: Dunloy 1 - Olympique Lyonnais 1: In a half short of chances, both teams have managed to get on the board, but both due to defensive errors. Dunloy make two changes with under performing midfielder Edwards (6.1) and Ince (6.0) replaced with Harris and Kennedy in like for like changes. Both new players are also excellent penalty takers, so they might come in handy later on.
55th Minute: Dunloy with the ball in defence, and making a counter attacking move... a couple of direct passes later they are outside their 16 yard box, and Dunloy striker Kennedy is played into the box, with 2 defenders bearing down on him, suddenly he is down in the box, and the ref blows his whistle! Wait, the ref is heading towards Kennedy, and has accused him of diving. He has already picked up a yellow card earlier, and now he is shown another one, and is sent off! In the 10 minutes Kennedy was on the pitch his stats read 1 pass, 1 offside, 4 fouls against, 2 yellow cards - not great reading! With Dunloy 1 man down, it's going to be tough now!
61st Minute: Olympique Lyonnais with the ball in the middle of the pitch, slowly bringing the ball down the left flank, suddenly OL striker Colonnette turns his man inside out and runs into the box, shoots, but great diving save by keeper Ross, and cleared by the Dunloy defence.
75th Minute: Olympique Lyonnais again with the ball, and again running down the pitch... this time Brazilian winger Alberto ends up with it on the edge of the box, with no defenders around him... shoots, but straight at the keeper, who holds onto it. OL are looking the much better team with an extra player, but are yet to make it count on the scoreboard.
84th Minute: Dunloy are making a rare forward run, and are flying down the left wing... a great cross into lone striker Wickham inside the box, bearing down on the keeper, and he also falls down inside the box. Another whistle, and this time it is a penalty! OL defender Diaz, who brought him down, and already has a yellow, has a chat to the ref... but just a warning. However the OL players are not happy at all and still complaining, and the ref hands out 2 yellow cards for dissent, including one to defender Diego who already has a yellow card, and is sent off! It's now 10 men each, with a Dunloy penalty to come!
85th Minute: Ok, Dunloy midfielder Harris with the penalty kick... but fires it straight into the keeper, who bats it away. The ball falls into the path of oncoming midfielder Sheppard who also shoots, but again straight into the keeper, who holds onto it this time. What a waste!
End of second half: Dunloy 1 - Olympique Lyonnais 1: Well, what an eventful second half! Despite the score still being 1-1, there were 8 yellow cards, 2 red cards and a missed penalty. So, both teams go into extra time with 10 men
92nd Minute: Olympique Lyonnais with a corner, deep towards the far post, headed across goal by an OL defender, then another header towards goal by OL striker Rodriguez, but straight at the keeper, and easily held.
101st Minute: Dunloy with the ball in defence... a few long passes into midfield, and suddenly another long pass into the box, lone striker Wickham is trying to run onto it, with 2 defenders also chasing it down, they all reach the ball at the same time, and again, Wickham is down, and again, another penalty!
102nd Minute: Midfielder Harris steps up for his 2nd penalty of the match, and fires it towards the left corner, but saved again by the keeper! Unbelievable! 2 penalty misses in the Champions League Final! Will this cost Dunloy the final? Only time will tell.
108th Minute: Dunloy with another corner early in the 2nd half of extra time. Ball floats towards the far post, and the OL defence clear it, but wait, another whistle, and it is another penalty to Dunloy, with midfielder Harris being fouled... and before i can change my penalty takers it is that man again Harris lining up for the penalty, his third attempt of the match. He takes his time with this penalty, and then shoots, but well over the crossbar, that wasn't close! I can't believe he has missed his 3rd penalty, and with not long to go, it looks like the match is now headed to penalties thanks to Harris' misses.
111th Minute: OL with the throw deep in, fullback Thiebaud tries a cross into the box, which is actually heading goal ward, but Ross makes a good save on the line - OL almost got lucky with that one!
119th Minute: Dunloy with the ball now, just minutes from the end of extra time... suddenly, from outside the box, midfielder Harris unleashes a fierce shot which the OL keeper just manages to push away at full stretch, Dunloy winger Peters reaches the ball first and passes it across the goalface to teammate Sheppard, who, between two defenders, fires a shot off and scores, the keeper helpless to react. And unlike 2 years ago, this goal does stand, and Dunloy hit the front, with 1 minute left in extra time! Dunloy 2 - Olympique Lyonnais 1
Full Time: Dunloy 2 - Olympique Lyonnais 1:
That's it, the final siren, and Dunloy have finally done it! The have won the Champions League, and completed the challenge!!
Let's have a look at this Champions League winning side in more detail:
GK - Ray Ross
: The 23 year old English keeper, with 19 caps, was a hero today, and walked away with the MoM. Average rating of 8.3
DL - Jose Miguel Casares
: 30 year old fringe player Casares only came into the starting XI due to suspension, and played only his 2nd game in left back, but managed 11 interceptions, and a rating of 7.3
DC - Liam McDermott
: The 23 year old central defender has been superb all season, scoring 18 goals this season, and managed 13 headers, and a rating of 7.4, still short of his 7.88 season average
DC - Murray Hughes
: The 20 year old Scottish defender has already won 20 caps, and despite not the best attributes, he was the best defender, with 13 intercepts and a rating of 7.7
DR - Lee Jones
: The 26 year old right back has some of the better attributes of the Dunloy players, but only managed a rating of 6.9
MC - Tim Edwards
: Only lasted 45 minutes before being subbed off, had an average game with a 6.1 rating, but is leaving to join Schalke next season
MC - Jamie Sheppard
: This 20 year old match winner is actually on loan from Newcastle, and playing only his 9th game for the season, but it was one to remember, scoring the winner despite picking up a twisted ankle in the 2nd half. Average rating of 7.7
AMR - Ross Clemence
: Subbed off in extra time, the right winger had an unspectacular game with a rating of 6.9 (and one assist), but has been a solid performer all season.
AML - Thomas Peters
: Great game by the 22 year old left winger, running 17.2 km, and setting up the game winning goal. Average rating of 8.1
ST - Connor Wickham
(c): Solid game by the 32 year old considering he was the lone striker for most of the match, but surprisingly didn't manage a single attempt at goal! Average rating of 7.0
ST - Charlie Ince
: The 25 year old English striker, who earned his first cap earlier this season, had a game to forget, dragged off after 45 minutes. Average Rating 6.0, although he has been the best striker all season with 35 goals at 7.55
(S1) MC: Philip Harris
: The man of the moment for all the wrong reasons, whilst he had 6 shots on goal, he missed 3 penalties (despite having a penalty attribute of 17), and ended with an average rating of 3.5
(S2) ST: Jason Kennedy
: Another match to forget, the backup striker lasted only 10 minutes before picking up 2 yellow cards. No average rating
(S3) AML: Zak Burton
: 25 year old backup midfielder was brought on in the 93rd minute largely for his penalty taking skills, but wasn't needed! Average rating 6.3
(Sus) DL: John Beattie
: Despite being suspended and unable to play in the final, the 24 year old left back had been one of the players of the season for Dunloy, with amazing physical and mental attributes, and he racked up 55 games at 7.66 - desperately unlucky to miss the final, but thankfully he wasn't needed.
Well, that is it, the challenge is finally complete, and amazingly the winner was scored by a Lonee from Newcastle playing only his 9th game... it was a bit of a gamble, but it payed off!
Well, I think I will play one more season with Dunloy to see if I can defend my title (and also add the Euro Cup / World Club Cup), but then I'm going to put an end to this career, which has spanned 14 seasons... although someone on here did mention that it is easier with a UK side as we can field largely English sides, so I am tempted to start another challenge in Eastern Europe... we'll see.
Good luck everyone with your challenge, and get ready for one last Dunloy update from me to see if I can defend my title!