Women’s Champions League quarter-finals: what to expect | UEFA Women’s Champions League
The UEFA Women’s Champions League resumes on March 22 as the quarter-finals return to Turin.
A world-record crowd looks likely as holders Barcelona take on Real Madrid while seven-time champions Lyon meet Juventus, Arsenal take on other former winners Wolfsburg and last season’s two beaten semi-finalists will be paired as Bayern München take on Paris Saint-Germain.
Famous fixture, new frame
Real Madrid v Barcelona may not have the history or resonance of the men’s game: the capital club only entered the women’s game in 2020 after taking over CD Tacón and despite the end from his first season in second, they were 25 points behind the Blaugrana, who won all three Women’s Clásicos quite comfortably. But Madrid’s impressive run in their first European season, knocking out Manchester City to advance to the group stage and progress to the last eight, earned them a place among the defending champions. The second leg will be Barcelona’s first game in front of Camp Nou fans, having played there behind closed doors in January 2021 against Espanyol, and sold out in January days after tickets went on sale, making a record crowd in the world for a women’s club game probably.
Coincidentally, Barcelona’s first entry into the men’s European Cup in 1959/60 ended in a semi-final against Madrid. On this occasion, the Merengues, winners of both rounds, were aiming for a fifth title in a row; this time Barcelona are the team to beat, favorites to retain the trophy they won in style last May. They also have experience winning all-Spanish quarter-finals, beating Atlético 1-0 in Bilbao in 2020. Madrid are the competition’s first debutants to reach the quarter-finals since second-round victim City in 2016/17; if like the English team, they can reach the last four, the women’s Clásico will have had its first real classic.
London calls Wolfsburg again
Injury-trodden Wolfsburg looked down after their matchday four home loss to Juventus but ended up topping Group A with a 4-0 loss to Chelsea in their final game to eliminate the 2021 finalists. It took Wolfsburg to a record tenth straight quarter-final and a meeting with another team setting a new mark for this stage: the Gunners are the first to feature 14 times in total in the last eight. As well as having former Arsenal players Jill Roord and Dominique Janssen in their squad, Wolfsburg are no strangers to visiting London: not only did they win the first of their two titles at Stamford Bridge in 2013, their two group meetings with Chelsea made that the most disputed match of this competition in ten meetings. They also won 2-0 at Arsenal in the 2012/13 semi-finals en route to a 4-1 aggregate victory and that final in London.
Had Wolfsburg not let slip a 3-1 lead in their Matchday 1 draw at Chelsea their task would have been much easier, but Arsenal had reason to be grateful for their first game in London, also against German opponents, in his group: the 4-0 Hoffenheim defeat proved essential for progress as they lost heavily twice to Barcelona and lost 4-1 in Germany, not enough to prevent the Gunners from progressing one-on-one. Both clubs know they can improve their mixed group presentations, but each have the attacking weapons to make it an exciting encounter, including top scorer Tabea Wassmuth for Wolfsburg, and Vivianne Miedema, possibly alongside the new signing Stina Blackstenius, for Arsenal.
New force against old masters
Juventus turned the group stage upside down by finishing above Chelsea and taking four points from Wolfsburg, keeping alive what seemed an unlikely dream of playing a home final in Turin. Drawing a total of 36,058 fans for their three games at Juventus Stadium in the group stage, the Italian champions – who had never made it past the knockout stages before – gathered momentum.
But they will have to reach new heights to overtake Lyon. The end of their five-year reign in last season’s quarter-finals against Paris may have shattered OL’s air of invincibility, but since Sonia Bompastor took over as head coach and after a tricky team, they still look very tough. Ada Hegerberg has returned from his long injury absence to a familiar goalscoring form, while experienced trio Sarah Bouhaddi, Dzsenifer Marozsán and Eugénie Le Sommer are back from autumn loans at OL Reign and Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir is back. again available after maternity leave. Juventus, however, gave a signal of their potential last season against Lyon in their home round of 16 first leg, leading 2-1 for half an hour before a late comeback from the visitors to win 3-2.
Pair in search of breakthrough
Bayern and Paris have been largely overshadowed by domestic rivals in this competition, with Wolfsburg and Lyon having dominated Europe for the past decade. Last season, however, Paris knocked out Lyon at this stage and they and Bayern not only reached the semi-finals, a step further than Wolfsburg and OL, but each won league titles after years of frustration for second place. Now both are looking for unmatched heights in this competition.
Paris reached the 2015 and 2017 finals and pushed Frankfurt and Lyon all the way respectively, but they now look the strongest they’ve ever been, their 25 unanswered goals winning all six group games surpassing even Barcelona , with 13 different players scoring. Bayern, who fell in Paris in this round in 2015 and reached the semi-finals for only the second time last season, were not so spectacular in the group stage, but their 1-0 defeat against Lyon a week after a heartbreaking late defeat to France proved their ability and mentality.
where to watch
Just like in the group stage, all matches will be streamed live and free on DAZN//YouTube. You can also watch DAZN streams in our MatchCentres.
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