The UEFA Women’s Champions League has already given us so many narratives this season and on the final day of the group stages, those narratives continued as despite having some forgone conclusions in some groups, other groups still had some excitement left for the neutral.
Billed as the group of death, the four teams involved in this group did their best to serve up some end-to-end matches. Servette FCCF was the least of the four and didn’t manage to make a dent in the other three’s ambitions. In fact, they ended their campaign with a 4-0 loss away to Juventus F.C.
Two penalties from Cristiana Girelli and a goal apiece from Lina Hurtig and Agnese Bonfantini made sure of the points for Juventus and also made sure that they qualified out of the group stages and into the knock out round. Joe Montemurro has done a terrific job in leading the team from Turin into the quarter finals, not withstanding a big win away at VfL Wolfsburg and a draw against previous finalists, Chelsea F.C.
The big tie of the round however was Wolfsburg vs Chelsea. Chelsea knew that all they had to do was not lose by two goals or more and they’d be through, while Wolfsburg had to win by two goals or more. The former Champions League winners showed their pedigree and scored four goals to knock Chelsea out of the competition and also finish top of the group
Captain Svenja Huth returned from injury just in time and scored two goals but the player of the match was undoubtedly Tabea Waßmuth. Waßmuth had two finished that any striker in the world would be proud of and was a regular thorn in Chelsea’s side. With so much on the line for the former German champions, they proved to not only have the mettle for the fight but also the talent to get the win when needed.
Chelsea will have a lot to contemplate on after this. A poor draw at home to Juventus and this performance against Wolfsburg was something that not many expected from the London outfit. Emma Hayes will have to go back to the drawing board once again with regards to continental football.
Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid had already qualified from this group but both teams looked to finish on a high. PSG welcomed Breiðablik UBK and put six past the visitors.
Kadidiatou Diani and Sandy Baltimore had the pick of the goals as they emphasised PSG’s might in this competition. Jordyn Huitema also scored a brace and Luana and Ramona Bachmann finished off the scoring for the Parisiennes.
Real Madrid were looking to end their group stage journey on a high as well. They found three goals and dominated proceedings against Zhytlobud-1 Kharkiv. Babett Peter, Maite Oroz and Esther González were on the scoresheet for the home side.
When this group was announced, not many thought that Breiðablik and Kharkiv would stop PSG and Real Madrid from qualifying and that’s exactly how it turned out. There will be many lessons to learn for both teams about the competition and the levels they have to aspire to get to in order to compete at the highest level.
Arsenal ran it close but eventually hung on to finish second in the group and qualify for the next round. They knew that as long as they didn’t lose by five goals or more, they would be through but they didn’t help themselves as they lost 4-1 to TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
Jule Brand and Gia Corley bracketed two goals by Chantal Hagel while Laura Weiroither scored an own goal. Hoffenheim were solid abut Arsenal were shambolic at the back. If they want to progress far in this competition, they will need to be much, much better
Barcelona finished six wins out of six as they beat HB Køge by five goals to nil. Leila Ouahabi, Fridolina Rolfö, Alexia Putellas, Ingrid Engen and Lieke Martens all got on the scoresheet for the hosts. Martens had the pick of the goals as she raced onto a pass before finishing well with a chip over the goalkeeper.
HB Køge did everything they could to try and pick up a result in this group but unfortunately, they were not at the level of the other three teams in the Group C.
Ada Hegerberg continued her goal-scoring in the Champions League as she and others helped Lyon to a 4-0 win over BK Häcken. Hegerberg now has 52 goals in 49 appearances for the French giants. Catarina Macario, Amandine Henry and Janice Cayman made sure that the scoreline reflected Lyon’s complete dominance over proceedings as they ensured their top spot in the group.
Häcken have had flashes of genuine quality throughout their campaign but the difference between them and the likes of Lyon and Bayern was that they couldn’t produce the final produced often enough to get the wins they needed.
Bayern Munich also finished on a high in this group. Against Benfica, Bayern picked up a 4-0 win and finished in second. Karólína Vilhjálmsdóttir, Lea Schüller, Giulia Gwinn and Klara Bühl all scored for the home side.
S.L. Benfica gave us a high moment when they drew Bayern 0-0 in Lisbon but in this return fixture, the German champions proved to be too good for Benfica.
Wolfsburg, Juventus, PSG, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Arsenal, Lyon and Bayern Munich will now all look towards the draw on Monday to determine who will play who in the last eight. Apart from teams in the same group not being able to play each other, no other rules are in place and this sets up some potentially massive ties for the quarter finals.