Lewis Ambrose·21 March 2023
Lewis Ambrose·21 March 2023
The Women’s Champions League is back and it’s quarter-final time! And here are four things we are asking ourselves heading into the games.
Bayern Munich have won 13 of 15 league games they have played so far this season but their most impressive victory of the campaign to date came against Barcelona at the Allianz Arena, the stadium Arsenal visit on Tuesday.
Barça didn’t just lose there, they were roundly beaten in a way they almost never seem to be.
Attack-minded coach Alexander Straus has Bayern playing some sensational football and a trip there is daunting for an Arsenal side still figuring things out at the moment.
Injuries to Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema have hampered the attack but recent form suggests the Gunners have finally managed to adapt, with Frida Maanum continuing her fine form, Caitlin Foord impressing and Stina Blackstenius rediscovering a finishing touch in front of goal.
Still, a long European run – and a result in Munich — would be a surprise without their two biggest names available.
Roma are having a season to remember. Currently top of Serie A (and eight points clear at that), their first ever Champions League campaign has seen them breeze into the quarter-finals.
They even drew 1-1 at home against Wolfsburg in the group stage before suffering a hard-fought 4-2 defeat in the return fixture. Clearly, Roma are not to be underestimated and know just what awaits them this week.
“I’m pretty sure everyone knows at this point that we really like to be bold and aggressive, boss Alessandro Spugna said this week. “But this means also we need to be balanced.
“On Tuesday we’ll have to be extra-focused: Barcelona will be the strongest opponent we have ever played against, nevertheless we’ll try to play following our principles.”
How well Roma do in their biggest test, and if they can ask Barcelona questions themselves, remains to be seen.
Maybe the most exciting tie of the lot, PSG v Wolfsburg is the meeting of two teams just desperate to topple Lyon.
The current holders have repeatedly relegated PSG to the place of second best domestically and done the same to Wolfsburg in Europe. Both teams, though, look primed for yet another shot at the big prize. But one of them has to say goodbye here.
Kadidiatou Diani is enjoying a superb season for PSG in the absence of Marie-Antoinette Katoto and she will carry the goal burden in what is a huge first leg. PSG are strong at home, beating Chelsea (2018) and Barcelona (2020) at this stage in recent seasons. Away defeats sent them home, though, and they nearly said au revoir on their own turf against an injury-ridden Bayern last season.
They surely need a strong result at home against a formidable Wolfsburg, led by a striker in Ewa Pajor who could claim to be Europe’s most dangerous player this season. This one should be a thriller.
Lyon have won 12 of 13 and the one they exited was on away goals, which no longer exists. Chelsea don’t have the same European pedigree but have never gone out at this stage. Something has to change.
Arsenal ripped apart an admittedly under-strength Lyon side in the group stage, making the most of their high defensive line, and Chelsea will surely look to do the same with Lauren James and Sam Kerr taking it in turns to provide and latch onto things.
The question is whether they can do that and keep things tight at the other end.
Lyon have proven for years now that they are not just a collection of stars but a team full of stars. At the very highest level, you sometimes can’t help but fear Chelsea are the former. This provides the ultimate test to prove that line of thinking wrong.