USWNT stars in motion, Lyon once more the team to beat

USWNT stars in motion, Lyon once more the team to beat

The 2020-21 Ladies’s Champions League is constructing as much as be one of many fiercest within the competitors’s latest historical past. A number of teams — Lyon, Chelsea and Barcelona — have gone on successful runs domestically and are actually turning their consideration to Europe’s premier competitors.

This season is the ultimate one earlier than UEFA makes a number of adjustments to the event’s construction — included the lengthy called-for introduction of group phases — and with the Olympics within the not-so-distant future (COVID-19 allowing), golf equipment and gamers can be hoping to make an impression. This is how the ultimate 16 are shaping up forward of the primary video games on March 3.

The favorites

It is inconceivable to reply this query with out first turning to Lyon. They received their fifth title in a row in 2020 and have not missed a last since 2010. Nevertheless, Paris Saint-Germain snapped their 80-game successful streak in November; beating them is feasible.

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Chelsea and Manchester Metropolis, in the meantime, can be hopeful they’ll change into the second-ever English team to win the UWCL. Emma Hayes is revered for her managerial expertise in England, however Chelsea’s away report leaves a bit to be desired. As for Metropolis, Gareth Taylor’s facet have two 2019-20 UWCL winners of their ranks with Lucy Bronze and Alex Greenwood, and they are going to be hoping that this expertise provides them an additional push over the road.

VfL Wolfsburg are common options within the last, however after struggling a bit domestically — they’re in unfamiliar territory, sitting second behind Bayern and in peril of ending their run of 4 straight league titles — they might not have the facility to recover from the road this 12 months.

The USWNT stars on present in Europe

There can be sturdy USWNT curiosity in Catarina Macario, who joined Lyon shortly after declaring for the nationwide team. She left the SheBelieves Cup early to return to France and takes her place amongst a few of Europe’s greatest gamers. Manchester Metropolis’s Sam Mewis marked her return from harm on the weekend with a brace towards Birmingham Metropolis. It’s a fast turnaround for Rose Lavelle and Abby Dahlkemper, who each solely returned to England on Friday from the SheBelieves Cup however they did each make substitute appearances on the weekend. Lavelle, who received Most Precious Participant within the Cup, can be hoping to indicate Taylor why she deserves an everyday beginning spot.

Having simply joined Lyon, Catarina Macario is able to make a reputation for herself within the Ladies’s Champions League. Photograph by Brad Smith/ISI Pictures/Getty Photos

Gamers to observe

Between established expertise and thrilling newcomers, there is not any scarcity of gamers to observe within the event. Gamers like Lyon’s Dzsenifer Marozsan, Wendie Renard and Amandine Henry are established execs within the UWCL. PSG’s Marie-Antoinette Katoto has been lighting up the Division One Female along with her objectives, as has Atletico Madrid’s Ludmila within the Primera Iberdrola. Lea Schuller additionally continues to impress for each Bayern Munich and Germany. Defensively, preserve a watch on 19-year-old Lena Oberdorf of Wolfsburg, who can sometimes pop up and rating a aim as nicely.

Wednesday, March 3

Barcelona vs. Fortuna Hjorring: Barcelona are on a outstanding run within the Primera Iberdrola, successful all 17 video games they’ve performed up to now this season and solely conceding three objectives. Lluis Cortes’ facet even have a robust report within the UWCL, having made it to the semifinals in 2019-20 and progressing past the spherical of 16 every of the previous 5 seasons. With gamers like Caroline Graham Hansen and Jennifer Hermoso, they are going to be favourites to undergo over Fortuna Hjorring, who went out at this stage final 12 months to eventual winners Lyon. They’re third in Denmark’s Elitedivisionen, although only a level separates them from the highest two.

Manchester Metropolis vs. Fiorentina: Manchester Metropolis had been knocked out by Atletico Madrid at this stage final season and Taylor can be optimistic of his facet progressing additional this 12 months.

– Greenwood: Man Metropolis should not be afraid of claiming they need to win

After a rocky begin to the season, Metropolis are on an excellent run of kind that has left them simply two factors off Chelsea within the FA Ladies’s Tremendous League. With 2019-20 UWCL winners Lucy Bronze and Alex Greenwood in his facet in addition to the USWNT’s Sam Mewis saying her return from harm with a brace on the weekend, they need to see previous the problem of Fiorentina. Nevertheless, the Italian facet will not be a pushover and there are some acquainted former WSL faces within the squad resembling ex-Metropolis participant Tessel Middag and former Arsenal defender Louise Quinn.

Fiorentina have misplaced only one recreation in 2021, however they’ve by no means gone previous this stage within the UWCL competitors.

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Rosengard vs. St. Polten: The UWCL hasn’t had a Swedish quarterfinalist since 2017-18 and Rosengard can be hoping to rectify this as previous to that season, the Damallsvenskan (Sweden’s skilled ladies’s league) had all the time been represented within the final eight. Nevertheless, they must cope with simply having 15 gamers eligible to play within the tie after a UEFA rule change means a number of of their gamers can’t compete, one thing their sporting director Therese Sjogran known as “a catastrophe.” They may also be with out Sweden striker Anna Anvegard.

Austrian champions St. Polten are within the spherical of 16 for the primary time after preserving a clear sheet towards Zurich. They’re 13 spots behind Rosengard in UEFA’s membership rankings so even with the Swedish facet’s squad troubles, they need to see previous the Austrians.

Wolfsburg vs. LSK Kvinner: Final 12 months’s runners-up Wolfsburg have been knocked out of the UWCL by Lyon in every of the previous 5 seasons, and after dropping participant of the event Pernille More durable to Chelsea, they are going to be out to show they’re nonetheless a dominant pressure. Whereas they’ve struggled domestically this season — they’re 5 factors off Bayern Munich within the Frauen Bundesliga and one other loss may hand their rivals the title — they’re nonetheless a squad filled with expertise, particularly with the likes of younger Germany defender Oberdorf.

The sport has taken on an added stress for LSK Kvinner, who will not qualify for subsequent 12 months’s UWCL with out progressing via this spherical as they completed fifth in Norway’s Toppserien. They may also come up towards a well-known face, with Ingrid Syrstad Engen lining up for Wolfsburg having moved from LSK this season. Coach Knut Slateim admitted they’re the “underdogs,” however hoped the two-legged knockout nature would possibly play of their favour.

Chelsea vs. Atletico Madrid: Chelsea misplaced their unimaginable 33-game unbeaten run once they misplaced to Brighton & Hove Albion on Feb. 7, however have returned to successful methods since that shock defeat within the WSL. Hayes’ facet did not qualify for the 2019-20 event and the coach can be out to show some extent with the UWCL her white whale, having reached the semifinals in 2018-19 and 2019-20. Previously 12 months, although, she has added 2019-20 participant of the event More durable to her already star-studded squad, whose expertise in final 12 months’s last with Wolfsburg can be invaluable.

Standing of their manner are Atletico, one of many more durable teams her facet may have drawn, having reached the quarterfinals final 12 months solely to be knocked out by their Spanish rivals Barcelona. They’ve knocked Man Metropolis out in every of the previous two seasons, and Chelsea may have a tough time quietening Ludmila and Deyna Castellanos, a key pair in Atletico’s assault. It has been a troublesome season for the Spanish giants although and whereas they’re third within the Primera Iberdrola, they’re 13 factors adrift of Barca, who’ve three video games in hand.

Dan Thomas is joined by Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop and others to carry you the newest highlights and debate the most important storylines. Stream on Football4cast+ (U.S. solely).

Thursday, March 4

BIIK-Kazygurt vs. Bayern Munich: For the second 12 months in a row, Bayern Munich face BIIK within the spherical of 16. Final 12 months the German facet progressed to the quarterfinals with a 7-Zero combination win, and they are going to be anticipated to see off the problem of the Kazakhstan facet once more this 12 months. Bayern are 5 factors away from Wolfsburg on the prime of the Frauen Bundesliga, however do journey with out Germany internationals Lina Magull and Marina Hegering, who each have muscle accidents.

BIIK, who have not performed a aggressive recreation since beating Kharkiv within the spherical of 32 in December, go into the sport as 2020 Kazakhstan Championship winners. Nevertheless, Bayern can be anticipated to comfortably win this tie.

Lyon vs. Brondby: Lyon need to defend their title for the sixth 12 months in a row and are available up towards Brondby, who’re competing of their 18th UWCL — a record-equalling feat. With Lyon one of the vital infamous teams in ladies’s football, it’s no small process for the facet from Denmark to beat them and the French team ought to progress to the subsequent stage. There can be curiosity in Macario, who joined Lyon shortly after declaring for the USWNT and left the SheBelieves Cup early so she may return to France.

Lyon aren’t with out their cracks as PSG snapped their 80-game successful streak on Nov. 20, however with too many gifted gamers to listing, they will not be tossed apart simply. It’s a David vs. Goliath process with Brondby second within the Danish Superliga.

Tuesday, March 9

Paris Saint-Germain vs. Sparta Prague: It is constructing in direction of a doubtlessly thrilling season for final 12 months’s semifinalists PSG, who’re prime of Division One Female after beating Lyon. Jean-Luc Vasseur’s facet have dominated each domestically and overseas, however PSG have proven some vulnerabilities. Canada’s Jordyn Huitema and Ashley Lawrence did not journey for the SheBelieves Cup, that means each can be contemporary. Katoto has 17 objectives within the league and supervisor Olivier Echouafni can be hoping she hyperlinks up with prime help maker Kadidiatou Diani to see them previous Sparta Praha.

Whereas Martin Masaryk’s facet did beat final 12 months’s semifinalists Glasgow Metropolis to succeed in the spherical of 16, PSG current a distinct problem from the Scottish facet. Runners-up within the Czech first division final season and main the league this 12 months, the all-Czech squad will hope to make use of their power to outmuscle their opponents, however PSG ought to progress.

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