A closer look at Arsenal Women’s Champions League opponents
- Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo
Friday night will see the return of the UEFA Women’s Champions League for the first time since October.
Arsenal compete against Paris Saint-Germain while fellow British side Glasgow City face German Champions Wolfsburg, holders Lyon take on Bayern Munich and there is a mouth watering all Spanish clash as Barcelona play Atletico Madrid.
New signings can be registered meaning Noelle Maritz, Lydia Williams, Steph Catley and Malin Gut could all be in line for their Arsenal debuts come Saturday evening.
Josh Bunting previews the final eight teams left in the tournament.
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The story so far- Arsenal have defeated Serie A club Fiorentina and Slavia Prague on their way to the last eight. Striker Vivianne Miedema leads the way in the Champions league goalscoring charts with 10 goals. They also scored a remarkable eight goals in one game over Slavia Prague in London on Halloween night. They are the only remaining side to not have qualified for next season’s tournament meaning they have to go all the way to lift the trophy to enter next season.
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Star Player- Vivianne Miedema with her goals are crucial but Leah Williamson has been the standout performer in 2019-20 and she picked up the Arsenal Women’s supporter’s player of the season award, the 23 year old has excellent leadership and her passing range is unmatched by any other defender in the Women’s Super League.
Williamson started all 15 of Arsenal’s league games this season scoring once and registering three assists, she also made 1212 showing she is one of the best ball players in the division.
Ones to watch- Lisa Evans and Katie McCabe are two of the most underatted stars in the Women’s Super League.
Joe Montemurro likes to push his full-backs high so In theory they will play almost as wingers, Arsenal are expected to line up in a 4-3-3 formation.
Leader - Kim Little is the Arsenal captain, she is a crucial part of the team the Scotland International has netted 4 times for the Gunners on their way to the last eight.
Women’s Champions League best finish--Arsenal remain the only British team to have won the tournament back in 2006-07. Alex Scott scoring the only goal over a two legged final against Swedish side Umeå IK.
The story so far - Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain are coming off a defeat in the Coupe De France final on penalties against Lyon. In the Champions League they’ve put Portuguese side SC Braga and Icelandic outfit Breidablik UBK to the sword.
Star Player- Paris Saint-Germain have an array of talent, Kadidiatou Diani would be their key player but she could miss Saturday’s clash due to an injury she sustained against Bordeaux in the Coupe De France semi-final.
In 2019-20 before the season was suspended due to the Coronavirus pandemic Diani had netted 12 goals in 16 appearances for the French side she also has netted two champions league goals.
The 25-year-old forward has scored 10 goals in 56 caps for the French national team.
She has also been a member of two World Cup squads as well as France’s squad for the 2016 Olympics and 2017 Euros.
Ones to watch - 19 year old Canadian Jordyn Huitema is one of the best young prospects in Women’s football she has scored four goals in four champions league games this season, she also has 13 goals in 32 caps for Canada.
Goalkeeper Christiane Endler is also a huge asset to have, the Chilean is one of the best goalkeepers in the world after a superb World Cup in France in 2019 the 29 year was finally recognised as one of the finest shotstoppers in the game.
Leader-Irene Paredes leads from the back, the Spanish International is one of the finest defenders in the world and is a danger from set-pieces she thumped in a header for the Parisains in their 2-1 win over Bordeaux in the Coupe De France semi-final.
Women’s Champions League best finish- Runners up, It was a heartbreaking 2015 and 2017 for PSG losing 2-1 to FFC Frankfurt in the 2015 showpiece before losing on penalties to Lyon in 2017 at the Cardiff City Stadium.
The story so far- The German champions are one of the hot favourites to go on and lift the Champions League after yet another successful season domestically. Head coach Stephan Lerch announced he will be standing down next season so he of course would like to add this trophy to his collection.
On the way to the last 8 they thumped KFF Mitrovica from Kosovo winning 15-0 on aggregate and then seeing off the challenge from Dutch side FC Twente 7-0 on aggregate.
Star Player- Wolfsburg have lots of quality in every area but Pernille Harder is the one that stands out. The Danish International netted 27 goals in 21 games in the Bundesliga Frauen last season as they won their sixth title.
Harder has also hit 5 goals in the 4 champions league games so far. She was only 23 when she was named Denmark captain showing just how important she is and how her leadership helps her side.
Ones to watch- Svenja Huth and Fridolina Rolfö could just be the difference in this tournament, two players who play out wide and cause plenty of problems with their pace and fluidity. They both are two of the best crossers of the ball in the Women’s game and have so much energy. Perfectly suited for Wolfsburg’s style of play.
Rolfö scored a hat-trick on her UEFA Women’s Champions League debut against English champions Liverpool at the time in 2014 for Linköpings FC in her native Sweden.
Leader- German international Alexandra Popp is a real stalwart in the team she has played for the club since 2012 and has made over 130 appearances for them. In 2019-20 she scored 11 goals in the 20 Bundesliga Frauen matches but is yet to find the net in the champions league.
Women’s Champions League best finish - Winners, Wolfsburg shocked Europe when they won the champions league in 2013 at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge. They also went on to lift the trophy once more a year later beating Swedish side Tyreso FF 4-3 at the Estádio do Restelo in Lisbon.
2013 however Is the one that will stand out more so for Wolfsburg fans as Martina Müller scored a 73rd penalty as they beat heavy favourites Lyon 1-0 in London.
Manager - Scott Booth
The story so far - The lowest ranked side left in the competition Glasgow City it’s a remarkable achievement that they are in the quarter-finals. On the way to the last 8 they have beaten Chertanovo from Russia and Brøndby IF from Denmark.
The Brøndby game went all the way to penalties after a 2-2 draw on aggregate but goalkeeper Lee Alexander came out on top in the most thrilling of finishes.
Star Player- Samantha Kerr is only 21 but she is one of the best players in Scotland, she won her first cap for Scotland in March against Ukraine. Kerr helped City win a domestic double last season as they created more history.
She is a very dynamic player and will join Glasgow Rangers ahead of next season in Scotland who she’s signed a pre-contract agreement with.
Ones to watch- Lauren Wade and Janine Van Wyk are ones to watch for City in the Basque Country. Wade is a Northern Ireland International winning 23 caps and has also featured for Icelandic side Throttur Reykjavik.
The Coleriane native also previously played College football in the USA.
Van Wyk could make her debut for the Scottish champions on Friday evening the South Africa captain linked up with the club last month and is an extremely experienced defender that City will need come Friday against the Germans.
Leader - Leanne Ross is Glasgow City’s captain and a club legend she has been with Glasgow City since 2007 and has played all 4 games in Europe so far this campaign. Ross has helped City win 13 consecutive Scottish league titles.
Women’s Champions league best finish - This is just second time in the clubs 21 year history they have reached the quarter-finals. It did not end well the last time in 2015, with a 7-0 aggregate thumping from Paris Saint-Germain.
The story so far- Atletico Madrid are in their first ever UEFA Women’s Champions League quarter-finals they have knocked out ZFK Spartak and Manchester City on their way to the last eight.
The Spanish side defeated Manchester City 3-2 on aggregate with Angela Sosa scoring the decisive goal.
Domestically they finished second in the Primera Iberdrola but they were nine points behind Barcelona and failed to reach the Copa de la Reina quarter-finals for the first time since 2012.
Star Player- Ángela Sosa scored 27 goals and in the 2018-19 season she won the league’s player of the year award . In 2019-20 she netted 9 goals in 21 games and also went on to register 5 assists.
Sosa has won two league titles and one cup and is aiming to win the the Champions league for the very first time.
Ones to watch- Atletico Madrid have former Arsenal players in their ranks as Pauline Peyraud-Magnin and Turid Knaak have played for the Gunners previously.
Knaak could make her debut in the Champions League as could Peyraud-Magnin this weekend when they face an all Spanish tie with FC Barcelona.
England International Toni Duggan is also one to keep an eye on she netted 5 times in 15 league appearances and has played in 3 Champions league games so far.
Leader-Amanda Sampedro who is a skilful attacking midfielder and is most notably known for her creativity and vision. She scored twice and claimed two assists for Atletico during the 2019-20 season.
Women’s Champions league best finish - This is Atlético’s fourth participation in the Women’s Champions League and the very first time they have qualified for the quarter-finals. They have been knocked out in the Round of 32 once by Wolfsburg (in 2017-18), and in the Round of 16 twice, by Lyon in 2015-16, and Wolfsburg in 2018-19.
The story so far- Barcelona have got to be one of the most feared teams in the last eight. They are the current Spanish Champions and they could add Europe’s elite tournament to their collection.
Juventus and Minsk have have had their campaigns in Europe ended by the Catalan giants, Alexia Putellas scoring in both games against the Turin club as Barca won both legs 2-1 and 2-0 respectively.
They then saw off the challenge from Minsk in comfortable fashion with 5-0 and 3-1 wins accumulating to 8-1 on aggregate.
Barcelona are likely to stick with their 4-3-3 formation that saw them win 19 out of their 21 matches in league and Cup before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Star Player- Jennifer Hermoso, Hermoso scored 23 goals in 19 matches for Barcelona as they claimed another Spanish title in 2019-20. Hermoso will be playing against the team that she left on Friday Atlético Madrid.
In her two stints with the club she has won three league titles, one Spanish cup and one supercup.
Ones to watch- Barcelona have so much talent but Netherlands winger Lieke Martens and María Pilar León Cebrián also known as Mapi Leon are two of the best players in world football.
Martens is one of the most difficult players to mark and she registered 5 assists in 12 games as well as scoring one goal.
Leon is one of the finest defenders in the world, she reads the game so well and moves the ball extremely well. An intelligent player that any side on the planet would hope to have on their side.
Leader-Vicky Losada a former Arsenal player Losada is the captain of FC Barcelona. She played 7 league games in 2019-20 scoring twice and she also claimed one assist.
She missed a lot of the season due to the injury but could be pivotal in Europe.
Women’s Champions league best finish- Runners up, Barcelona fell to a defeat to Lyon In last seasons final in Budapest. It was the first time they had ever reached a final but Lyon were too strong and went on to win 4-1 thanks to a first half hat-trick from Ada Hegerberg and a goal from German international Dzsenifer Marozsan.
The story so far- Bayern Munich have defeated Swedish side Göteborg and BIIK Kazygurt from Kazakhstan to reach the quarter-final stage.
Saturday will be their toughest test yet against Lyon but with their young and energetic squad they will be in a confident mood against the current European champions.
Jens Scheuer will have his side up for it and they should play on the front foot without showing any fear.
Star Player - Lina Magull, Magull remains one of the underatted stars of the Women’s game.
Magull netted 5 tjmes in 20 games during the Bundesliga Frauen season she has also scored twice in the champions league.
She chips in with goals but is an extremely intelligent player, she picks up pockets of space and causes problems for the opposition at the back.
Ones to watch- Giulia Gwinn and Lea Schüller are two of the finest young talents in Europe. Schüller has recently signed from SGS Essen Wheras Gwinn is a very technical midfielder at just 21.
Gwinn won Germany’s Young player of the year award for 2020 and has already had so much individual success in the international set-up from young to senior level.
Leader- Carina Wenninger is the Bayern Munich captain following the departure of Melanie Leupolz to Chelsea this summer, the Austrian captain has also been handed the Bayern Munich armband.
She is a Double Bundesliga winner and she has lifted the DFB Pokal and Bundesliga Cup to her name.
With Austria she played a part in the Euro 2017 semi-final as her country defied all odds to even reach the last four of that competition.
Women’s Champions league best finish - The German outfit have only progressed past the quarter final stage once in their history - in 2019 before they lost out to FC Barcelona in the semi-finals.
Bayern lost the tie 2-0 on aggregate losing both legs 1-0 thanks to goals from Mariona Caldentey and Kheira Hamraoui in the first leg.
Manager- Jean-Luc Vasseur
The story so far - Lyon are the favourites to win the champions league once more this month. They are European powerhouses when it comes to the Women’s game.
The French side have knocked out Ryazan and Danish club Fortuna Hjorring so far as they prepare for their showdown with Bayern Munich.
The Whites are coming into the game off the back of a Coupe De France final victory over Paris Saint-Germain so will be full of confidence come Saturday evening.
Ada Hegerberg who is the top goalscorer in the tournament’s history at just 25 will miss out however with an ACL injury which is a blow for Jean-Luc Vasseur’s side.
Star Player - Without Hegerberg Lyon’s star player would be Lucy Bronze although it’s a squad crammed with world class talent. English right-back Bronze made appearances in the league and has so far made 3 champions league appearances to date so far.
Bronze won the UEFA Women’s player of the year in 2018-19 and defensively and offensively is key to the French champions.
Ones to watch- Saki Kumagai and Amel Majri aren’t talked as much as others In the team but they are crucial, Japanese international Kumagai is one of the best ball players in Europe and makes Lyon tick.
Majri scored 5 goals in 14 appearances in the league during 2019-20 she also has one goal in the Champions League so far. Majri is also a versatile player as she can play as a left-back but more naturally is a midfielder and recently won her tenth league title in a row.
Leader- Wendie Renard, Renard is a Lyon and French international stalwart. The defender is so experienced and there is no surprise she has won so many honours throughout her career.
For a defender she also chips in with plenty of goals as she netted 7 in 14 matches in the league during the 2019-20 season and 4 in 3 champions league games.
Women’s Champions league best finish - Winners, Lyon are six times winners of the champions league lifting the trophy four years in a row and could well make it five in a row this month.