Matildas defender Ellie Carpenter is adamant Australians being at the forefront of the rise of women's football in Europe is crucial to the national team keeping pace ahead of next year's World Cup.
Carpenter is days away from lining up for Lyon in the final of the European Women's Champions League against Spanish powerhouse Barcelona.
It's another chance for an Australian player to have a major influence in a European competition in a season where Carpenter's international teammates have often taken centre stage.
Superstar striker Sam Kerr has been the stand-out performer, winning a second consecutive FA Women's Super League golden boot in Chelsea's title-winning campaign before helping the Blues complete a double with the extra-time winner in Sunday's FA Cup final at Wembley.
That match pitted Kerr against Matildas teammates Alanna Kennedy and Hayley Raso, with Raso scoring a sensational late equaliser in normal time for Manchester City.
Arsenal trio Lydia Williams, Caitlin Foord and Steph Catley pushed Kerr's Chelsea all the way in the FA WSL, finishing just a point off the winners in the league standings.
Several Australians are also chasing glory in the Scandinavian leagues led by veteran defender Clare Polkinghorne and midfielder Katrina Gorry at Vittsjo.
"None of us really were in Europe two years ago and I think now we're getting a real taste of what football is going to and working towards," Carpenter told AAP.
"The top clubs, the top leagues, (are) in Europe.
"The best place to be is in Europe right now and most of us are over in Europe. It's great to see."
With just over a year before next year's World Cup is held in Australia and New Zealand, Carpenter says it is vital Australians are playing at the pinnacle of club football to ensure they don't get left behind by the growth of the game in Europe.
"It's great for our team and also the individuals because everyone's getting better in Europe and then when we come together back as national team, everyone's again at a higher level," Carpenter said.
"That brings the team to a higher level. It's a win-win for ourselves personally and also for the team."
Carpenter is also eager to test herself in Saturday's (Sunday 0300 AEST) final against Barcelona's best, as the Spanish club seeks back-to-back triumphs after humbling Kerr's Chelsea in last year's decider.
With a friendly against Spain looming in June for the Matildas, the final pits Carpenter against key Spanish players such as Ballon d'Or winner Alexia Putellas and dangerous attacker Jennifer Hermoso.
"Half of their national team is in Barcelona if not pretty much all of them," she said.
"So (I'll) get a little bit of a good taste of it here and then obviously in June, it's very exciting that we're playing a great nation like Spain, in Spain.
"That's right before their Euros, so they're obviously going to be in top form.
"It will be another good challenge for the team."
Australian Associated Press
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