Soccer

Tales of the tape – Equalizer Soccer


The UEFA Women’s Champions League resumes on Wednesday with first-leg action in the round-of-16. Here’s our preview to get you up to speed on all the matchups:

FC Barcelona vs. Fortuna Hjorring (Wednesday, 10:45 a.m. ET)

Barcelona
Best UWCL finish: Final (2018/19)
Last year: Semifinal
Country: Spain
Current league form: 1st
Players to watch: Jenni Hermoso, Alexia Putellas, Mariona, Asisat Oshoala, Lieke Martens

Fortuna
Best UWCL finish:
Final (2002/03)
Last year: Round of 16
Country: Denmark
Current league form: 3rd
Players to watch: Machaela George, Mathilde Carstens   

Fortuna beat Pomurje 6-2 on aggregate to get to the round of 16 but will now face FC Barcelona, who have won 17 of 17 Primera Iberdrola matches so far this season. Barcelona has a squad full of world-class players, but there is one in particular who Fortuna need to keep an eye out for. Jenni Hermoso is having an outstanding season and recently became Spain’s all-time leading goal scorer with 42 goals. 

Manchester City vs. ACF Fiorentina (Wednesday, 11:45 a.m. ET)

Manchester City
Best UWCL finish: Semifinal
Last year: Round of 16
Country: England
Current league form: 2nd
Players to watch: Caroline Weir, Sam Mewis, Chloe Kelly, Ellen White

Fiorentina
Best UWCL finish: Round of 16 (2017/18 + 2018/19)
Last year: N/A
Country: Italy
Current league form: 4th
Players to watch: Louise Quinn, Tessel Middag, Daniela Sabatino 

Manchester City are on a run of eight straight victories in the FA Women’s Super League and are looking to advance past the round of 16 for the first time since 2018. Though not on such a strong run as their opponents, ACF Fiorentina have won three of their last four matches in Serie A. Keep an eye out for Sam Mewis and Louise Quinn in set pieces, easily identifiable as the two players towering over the rest.

A week of clarity: Chelsea, Man City distance from Arsenal, Man United in FAWSL title race

Rosengard vs. St. Polten (Wednesday, Noon ET)

Rosengard
Best UWCL finish: Semi-final (2003/04)
Last year: Round of 16
Country: Sweden
Current league form: Finished 2nd in 2020
Players to watch: Jelena Cankovic, Anna Anvegard

St. Polten
Best UWCL finish: Round of 32
Last year: Round of 32
Country: Austria
Current league form: 1st
Players to watch: Lisa Makas

St. Polten sit first in the Austrian league, which has been on break since November. En route to the round of 16 they beat FC Zurich 3-0 on aggregate. Rosengard finished the 2020 season second, seven points behind winners Goteborg, and the Swedish side beat Lanchkhuti 17-0 in the previous round. Both sides have managed to play friendlies during their break ahead of the Champions League, though neither have played consistently since last year.

VfL Wolfsburg vs. LSK Kvinner (Wednesday, 12:15 p.m. ET)

Wolfsburg
Best UWCL finish:
Winners (2012/13 + 2013/14)
Last year: Final
Country: Germany
Current league form: 2nd
Players to watch: Fridolina Rolfo, Svenja Huth, Zsanett Jakabfi 

LSK
Best UWCL finish:
Quarterfinal (2018/19)
Last year: Qualifying
Country: Norway
Current league form: Finished 5th
Players to watch: Emilie Haavi, Justine Vanhaevermaet

After a disappointing loss to Lyon in the final last year — and losing their key player, Pernille Harder — Wolfsburg have struggled to replicate the same success as previous years. Currently trailing Bayern Munich by 5 points in the league, Wolfsburg still are one of the best with world-class players across the pitch. LSK beat FC Minsk 2-1 on aggregate in the previous round and finished 5th in the 2020 season.

Chelsea vs. Atletico Madrid (Wednesday, 2 p.m. ET)

Chelsea
Best UWCL finish: Semifinal (2018/19 + 2017/18)
Last year: N/A
Country: England
Current league form: 1st
Players to watch: Fran Kirby, Pernille Harder, Sam Kerr, Melanie Leupolz

Atleti
Best UWCL finish:
Quarterfinal (2019/20)
Last year: Quarterfinal
Country: Spain
Current league form: 4th
Players to watch: Deyna Castellanos, Ludmila da Silva, Leicy Santos

Chelsea drew the toughest opponent possible, but it will be a real testament to Emma Hayes’ squad, which has been looking forward to the Champions League since a semifinal exit in 2019. Hayes has not made it a secret that her ultimate aim is winning the European trophy and has dedicated her recruitment over the past couple of years to this project. Though Atletico aren’t the team they once were, their threat is still adamant. They show up in big matches, most recently winning the Supercopa by beating Levante in the final and Barcelona in the semifinal.

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BIIK Kazygurt vs. Bayern Munich (Thursday, 1 a.m. ET)

Kazygurt
Best UWCL finish:
Round of 16 (2019/20 + 2017/18)
Last year: Round of 16
Country: Kazakhstan
Current league form: 2020 winner
Players to watch: Kamila Kulmagambetova, Brenna Rachel Connell

Bayern
Best UWCL finish
: Semifinal (2018/19)
Last year: Quarterfinal
Country: Germany
Current league form: 1st
Players to watch: Lea Schueller, Klara Buhl, Sydney Lohmann

Bayern sit five points clear at the top of the Bundesliga table having yet to lose a match. In their last three matches, they scored 22 goals and conceded just one. Lea Schueller is a force to be reckoned with, scoring six of those goals. Bayern are full of confidence and want to win the league for the first time since 2016 (Wolfsburg have won every title since then). Kazygurt drew Bayern for the second year in a row and was eliminated last year by the Germans with an aggregate score of 7-0. 

Olympique Lyonnais vs. FC Brondy (Thursday, 10 a.m. ET)

Lyon
Best UWCL finish
: Winners
Last year: Winners
Country: France
Current league form: 2nd
Players to watch: Amel Majri, Delphine Cascarino, Saki Kumagai, Wendie Renard

Brondy
Best UWCL finish: Semi-final (2014/15 + 2006/07 + 2003/04)
Last year: N/A
Country: Denmark
Current league form: 2nd
Players to watch: Josefine Hasbo, Nanna Christiansen 

The seven-time champions aren’t looking as strong as they once were, currently sitting in second in D1 Arkema. Lyon have not lost the league since 2007. PSG got the better of them this season for the first time in years and Lyon look to have some weaknesses, but nevertheless they are still the European champions and have some of the best players in the world. Brondy are in strong form and currently tied for first in the Danish league. They beat Valerenga in the previous round in a dramatic penalty shoot-out after scoring a late goal to force extra time. 

PSG vs. Sparta Praha (March 9, 10 a.m. ET)

PSG
Best UWCL finish: Final (2016/17 + 2014/17)
Last year: Semifinal
Country: France
Current league form: 1st
Players to watch: MarieAntoinette Katoto, Kadidiatou Diani, Sandy Baltimore

Praha
Best UWCL finish:
Quarterfinal (2005/06)
Last year: Round of 32
Country: Czech Republic
Current league form: 1st
Player to watch: Lucie Martinkova

PSG are on a high-flying, undefeated season in France, including a 1-0 win over Lyon late last year. Katoto and Diani are second and third, respectively, in the league’s leading goal-scorers and look unstoppable. PSG are full of confidence, and with a sound defense complementing a strong attack, they will be hard to break down. Sparta Praha sit first in the Czech league and overcame Glasgow City 3-1 on aggregate in the round of 32.





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