The knock out stages of the UEFA Women’s Champions League have been set as the remaining eight teams now know who they will be kicking off against in March as the road to Eindhoven, Netherlands remains a realistic dream for all the teams involved.
Bayern Munich vs Arsenal
No matter where you look, every tie in the quarter-finals is set up to be an amazing event. German giants Bayern Munich are up against English perennial Champions League participants Arsenal FC in one of the more intriguing match ups in this round. Had this tie been done in September, I would’ve put money down on Arsenal making it through to the semi-finals but the Gunners have since lost a lot of key players, especially up top, to long term injuries. This has shown in the FA WSL where Arsenal are having trouble scoring and this making it harder for them to stay with the pack at the top of the table. Bayern on the other hand, are in a better position health-wise with all of their big players still in the mix as they look to challenge for the title in the Frauen-Bundesliga.
The area to watch out for where the tie could be won or lost is the midfield. Both Bayern and Arsenal have very strong midfields and whichever won manages to gain enough of a foothold to influence things will lead their team to victory.
Key players to watch: Klara Bühl and Frida Manuum.
Winner: Bayern Munich
Lyon vs Chelsea
This has to be the tie of the round. Two seasons ago Chelsea FC made the final while Olympique Lyonnais won the whole thing last time around. The two teams are in different trajectories at the moment, due to injuries, but with the amount of quality in both teams, this will be the most fascinating tie of the quarter-finals. Lyon have had so many players out injured this season which has seen their consistency both domestically and in the Champions League disappear. Despite their struggles, they qualified for the quarter-finals and have settled into first place in the D1 Arkema. A lot of those players are now coming back to fitness and by the time this tie kicks off, the majority should be match fit as well. On the other hands, Chelsea have breezed through the first half of the season. The English Champions navigated their Champions League group with ease and are now beginning to show their dominance once again in the FA WSL.
This tie will be decided by which backline will hold up better against a lot pure attacking talent on display from both teams.
Key players to watch: Delphine Cascarino and Lauren James.
Roma vs Barcelona
For their first foray ever into the knock out stages, AS Roma will have wanted anyone else but last season’s finalists FC Barcelona. The Italian side have come in leaps and bounds this season, doing well domestically in a league that’s usually dominated by Juventus and also navigating their group well enough to see themselves into the knock out stages. The fun will stop here however for them. Barcelona have once again been at their dominant best. With only a slight stumble against Bayern in the group stages, the Liga F champions have consistently turned on the style and blown teams away since the season started. Roma will have an almighty task in front of them to get anything from this tie, let alone do enough to make the semi-finals. If I was a betting person, my money would be on Barcelona without a doubt.
Key players to watch: Valentina Giacinti and Geyse.
Paris Saint-German vs Wolfsburg
Round off the quarter-finals are Paris Saint-German and VfL Wolfsburg, another mouth-watering tie for the neutrals. PSG have not recovered well from losing Marie-Antoinette Katoto last summer and have struggled to find a consistent goalscorer in their ranks to lead the line. To be where they are know, they’ve had to rely on being defensively sound and having their midfield produce goals instead. Wolfsburg have a different feel about them. The German champions have seemingly gone from strength to strength every time I’ve watched them and have the depth in their squad to push any team all the way. This will be a tough contest for both sides but like the Bayern-Arsenal tie, the tie will be won and lost in midfield.
Key players to watch: Grace Geyoro and Lena Oberdorf.
The semi-final draw was done as well today and it will see the winners of PSG-Wolfsburg go up against the winner of Bayern-Arsenal. The other semi-final will see the winner of Lyon-Chelsea face off against the winner of Roma-Barcelona.