8 players to look out for in the UWCL Quarter Finals
The biggest tournament in European club women’s football, the UEFA Women’s Champions League, has confirmed the schedule for the final stages of the competition.
The prestigious event was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, a week before the quarter-finals were due to be played in March. It will now take place from 21 to 30 August at the Sam Mames Stadium in Bilbao and the Anoeta Stadium in San Sebastian.
The UWCL final stages will now be played as an eight team straight knockout tournament with one-off matches. The action kicks-off on 21 August with Glasgow City and Wolfsburg going head-to-head in San Sebastian whilst Atletico Madrid face FC Barcelona in Bilbao.
On 22 August, Arsenal Women will play Paris Saint-Germain in San Sebastian and the current holders, Olympique Lyonnais will take on Bayern Munich in Bilbao.
The winners of the first two quarter-finals will meet in San Sebastian on 25 August and the victorious teams from the final two quarter-finals will clash in Bilbao the next day.
The final will take place on Sunday 30 August in San Sebastian.
The French champions are six times winners of this competition and are hoping to defend the trophy this season to earn their fifth consecutive victory. Ada Hegerberg is the most notable player in this tournament, becoming the all-time top goalscorer with 53 goals before suffering a season ending ACL injury in January before lockdown.
Lucy Bronze will be a player to watch for Lyon in the final stages of the 2019/20 competition, arguable one of the best defenders in the game right now, named UEFA Women’s Player of the Year 2018/19. Not only reliable on the back-line, Bronze is often a threat higher up the pitch, who can forget the superb match winning volley she scored against her former club, Manchester City in the 2017/18 edition?!
Paris Saint-Germain is yet to lift the Champions League trophy, their best chance was in 2014/15 and 2016/17 when they finished as runners-up. Last year, PSG were knocked-out of the competition by English representatives Chelsea Women with a heartbreaking added time goal.
Jordyn Huitema, a recent signing, the young Canadian striker is quickly stamping her mark as one of the ones to watch on an international level having shone at the Under-17 and Under-20 Women’s World Cup and made her senior debut in 2017, making her the third youngest player to appear in a match for the senior national team.
Arsenal have won this competition before back in 2006/07, and will be looking to repeat the achievement this year. The English club have returned to European football after five seasons of missing out. Arsenal are the only team left in this competition who are not already assured a berth for next season, only a win will see them return.
One of the most important players for Arsenal is forward Vivianne Miedema, who currently leads the top goalscorers chart for this season. She was the English Women’s Super League top goalscorer in 2019/20 with 16 goals and also is Netherlands’ leading goalscorer.
The German club, VfL Wolfsburg were crowned European Champions in the 2012/13 and 2013/14 season. In most recent years, Wolfsburg have lost to Olympique Lyonnais in the last four seasons, twice in the finals (2016 and 2018) and twice in the quarter-final stage (2017 and 2019).
Pernille Harder is a stand-out player for the German club, but keep a watch on Ewa Pajor, possibly one of the best players to come out of Poland. The forward is still only 23 years old, having shown herself to be a natural individual football talent winning the UEFA Women’s Under-17 European Championship with Poland in 2013. Pajor reads the game well and is likely to be key player in the final stages of the competition.
The Spanish club are currently enjoying their best performance at a UEFA Women’s Champions League competition by reaching their first quarter-final. The Spanish club knocked out Manchester City in the round of 16.
Ludmila Da Silva is one to watch for the Atletico Madrid, she scored eight goals last season in the domestic league and is currently the third highest player on assists in this competition. She is a member of the Brazil women’s national team, earning 19 caps
FC Barcelona reached the final of the UEFA Women’s Champions League last season, becoming the Spanish club to achieve this, in which they were defeated by the French Champions, Olympique Lyonnais. This season will mark their fifth quarter-final in a row.
Aitana Bonmati is an important part of the Barcelona squad, another young player at 22, Bonmati is a midfielder who is a product of the youth team, her quality and ability has seen her jump from the B team to the first team. Aitana has represented Spain at every youth level before making her senior debut in November 2017. Her first ever Champions League goal was in the Round of 16 against Gintra Universitetas in 2017/18.
Glasgow are the Scottish Champions, having secured their thirteenth consecutive title last year. In the UEFA Women’s Champions League, their best performance was prior to this was reaching the quarter-final stage in the 2014/15 edition.
Watch out for Joanne Love in Glasgow City’s midfield. Having been at the club for the last nine years, she’s a crucial part of the team. Jo is a key international player for Scotland with over 190 caps earned so far.
Bayern Munich’s best performance in this tournament was reaching the semi-final stage last season. They are the only German entrants yet to win this competition. They face tough opponents, meeting the French champions Olympique Lyonnais at this stage, Bayern Munich have lost both previous ties against French clubs, PSG in the 2016/17 quarter-finals and Montpellier in the 2009/10 round of 16.
Giulia Gwinn is just 21 years old, the midfielder joined Bayern Munich in February 2019 from Freiberg. Another young talent to watch out for, Gwinn represented Germany at all youth levels before making her FIFA Women’s World Cup debut in 2019, in which she was awarded the Best Young Player Award for her performance at the tournament.
Excitement is building for the final stages of the UEFA Women’s Champions League, and with these unprecedented times and change of format it is felt that anything can happen at this later stage. There’s the opportunity to bet on the champions league, and try to predict the outcome of certain football matches. As for the UWCL, this year could be anyone’s?
The WSU Team bringing you news and updates from the world of women’s football.