Women’s Champions League conclusion 2020 – a preview

Women’s Champions League conclusion 2020 – a preview

By Andrew Crawshaw

It isn’t just the Men’s Champions League and Europa League competitions that are being played to a conclusion this month, The Women’s Champions League kicks off as well at the end of this week.  Matches were played up to the quarter final stage before the Covid lockdown leaving a final eight of Arsenal, Glasgow City, PSG, Lyon, Barcelona, Athletico Madrid, Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich.

One team from England and Scotland, two from each of France, Germany and Spain.

Arsenal are the only team not to have already qualified for next year’s competition having finished third in our league.  Glasgow City won the Scottish league, and the others all came first or second in their leagues.

The matches are all being played in Spain (behind closed doors as you would expect) and are being held at the San Mamés (Athletic Bilbao) and Anoeta (Real Sociadad) stadia.

Matches get under way on Friday with 17:00 kickoffs for

Athletico Madrid v Barcelona and Glasgow City v Wolfsburg

On Saturday there are 19:00 kickoffs for

Lyon v Bayern Munich and Arsenal v PSG

The Glasgow City match is on BBC Alba, the rest are all on BT Sport (sorry Tony but that’s how it is I’m afraid).

All teams will be able to play their 2020/21 players as they have been allowed to include up to six new signings above those already registered at the start of the season even if those players have previously represented another team in the earlier stages of the competition.  This was a necessary rule change as all domestic leagues finished months ago and many players have moved clubs.  Women’s contracts typically run for two years and players usually change clubs without transfer fees.  All teams have been busy bedding in new signings.

In a sense the Women’s tournament is the opposite of the Men’s.  The Men’s leagues all restarted after the Covid lockdown with the Champions League and Europa League taking their usual place at the end of the regular season.  The Women’s Champions League is effectively the curtain raiser for the Women’s season with all teams being short of match practice and it is difficult to say what effect that will have on the players and teams.

I will stick my head above the parapet though and make guesses as to which teams will progress.

The Athletico v Barcelona match should be close, Athletico are the longer established club and historically the stronger but Barcelona Women won their league undefeated earlier this year having invested very heavily in building a new team.  They scored twice as many goals as Athletico (86 to 43) and are likely to be far harder to beat than the men were against Bayern last week (they only conceded six goals in their truncated 21 match league season).  A close match but Barcelona likely to progress I think.

Glasgow City v Wolfsburg – Glasgow City have dominated Scottish Football for a long time being by far the biggest fish in a relatively small pond (they are not affiliated with either Rangers or Celticmens teams).  Wolfsburg won the much stronger German league last season winning 20 and drawing two of their 22 matches and will probably have too much firepower so I would expect them to progress.

Lyon v Bayern Munich – Lyon have been by far the best team in Europe for a number of years and it would be a big surprise for them not to progress past the Germans who finished second in the Frauen-Bundesliga last season.

Arsenal v PSG – this is probably the hardest to call but then I’m emotionally involved.  PSG finished runners up to Lyon in the French League last season, we finished third in ours.  I really don’t think there is a lot between the two teams and the winner will be the team that does best on the day.  If Viviane Miedema has a good game we will probably win, if PSG manage to keep her quiet then they will probably win.

For the overall tournament winner it is difficult to look past Lyon to beat Barcelona in the final.  As I love Arsenal and we have to win the tournament to be in it this coming season, I think that it will be a really big ask for us to beat PSG, Lyon and Barcelona in the space of 8 days not having played any competitive matches for months.

I’ll do a player introduction later in the week.