by Andrew Crawshaw
Arsenal resume their quest for European glory this evening with a game against the German league leaders Wolfsburg, at the Emirates with a 20:00 kickoff. I understand that the match is moved to the Emirates due to the requirement for VAR to be in place and this not being achievable at the Women’s normal home ground at Borehamwood. The second leg is on Thursday 31st March in Germany.
The three other ties are
Bayern Munich v Paris St Germain
Qatar, in the shape of PSG have bought their way to the top of European football in both the Men’s and Women’s games. They have possibly supplanted Lyon as the top Women’s team in France although not by much. Bayern ended Wolfsburg’s domination of the German League last year but look like finishing second to them this year. This match is really difficult to call and could go either way but I fancy PSG to edge it over the two legs.
Juventus v Lyon
Juventus are probably the surprise team remaining in the competition emerging from Chelsea’s group at the Blue’s expense. Lyon had a rare trophy-less season last year but seem to be returning to their usual dominant form and it will be a surprise if they fail to progress to the semi-final.
The semi-final draw has already taken place and the winners these two matches play each other
Real Madrid v Barcelona
The top two Spanish teams, Barcelona look unstoppable at times this year and are unbeaten in their domestic league so far, they totally outclassed us in our group stage matches. It will be a major upset if they don’t win this tie relatively comfortably.
The winner will await the winner of the Arsenal Game in the second semi-final.
Arsenal v Wolfsburg
The WSL leaders v the Bundesliga leaders. Here is the comparison of the two in their respective leagues this season
Arsenal have a marginally worse domestic record with two fewer wins and two more drawn games. Five fewer goals scored but two fewer conceded. The statistics show a slight edge in favour of the Germans and they certainly have a lot more recent experience of this stage of the competition than Arsenal.
There are two familiar faces in the Wolfsburg team, centre back Dominique Janssen and midfielder Jill Roord. Dominique I remember as a solid, but not spectacular, defender and Jill never really seemed to settle at Arsenal, she scored some spectacular goals without cementing her place in midfield or attack. Both are among the goals this season though – Dominique with 5 and Jill is their top scorer with 8. Tabea Waßuth the only other player to appear in all 17 of their games has 7 and there are three players each on four goals.
If we contrast the goal threat with Arsenal, Viviana Miedema has 10, Beth Mead 7, Kim Little 6, Katie McCabe 5 and Stina Blackstenius 4 in her 6 games since arriving in January. Our goals are coming from a slightly smaller range of players but again there seems little to chose between the two teams.
All of the stats and matchups point to an extremely tight contest between two good footballing teams. Defensively we perhaps have a slight edge assuming that both Leah Williamson and Rafaelle Souza are fit and play well and that is my main hope for us to progress into the semi-finals.
Probable Arsenal lineup
Noëlle Maritz, Leah Williamson, Rafaelle Souza, Steph Catley
Kim Little, Lia Wälti
Beth Mead, Stina Blackstenius, Katie McCabe
Lydia Williams, Laura Wienroither, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Jen Beattie, Simone Boye Sørensen, Jordan Nobbs, Tobin Heath, Caitlin Foord, Mana Iwabuchi, Nikita Parris
There are still tickets available via the Arsenal box office and the match will also be streamed free of charge on the DAZN Youtube channel. Previous matches have also been carried by arsenal.com on the club’s video channel.
I’m hoping to go but need to have a negative Covid test first; I’ve been positive for a week now and really want it to go away as I’m fed up with it!