UEFA WOMEN'S CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
Which USWNT and South American Women’s World Cup stars could win the UEFA Women’s Champions League?
Lyon have dominated the Champions League in recent seasons, with USWNT’s Lindsey Horan set to star for them in the quarter-finals.
The focus of men’s soccer moves to the international game this week, with the CONCACAF Nations League resuming and qualification for the 2024 European Championships getting underway. However, on the women’s side, it’s the Champions League which will take centre stage in the next couple of days, with four quarter-final first legs to be played on Tuesday 21 March and Wednesday 22 March.
Lyon’s Women’s Champions League dominance
The competition has been completely dominated in recent years by French club Lyon, who have won six of the last seven editions. After Barcelona’s victory in 2020-21, OL regained ‘their’ title by beating the Catalans in last year’s final in Turin.
The final of this year’s competition will be played at Philips Stadion, the home of PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands but, although Lyon and Barcelona are the two favourites to lift the trophy, there will not be a repeat of last year’s showpiece. They are set to meet in the last four should they progress from their quarter-final ties.
The French side are the only foreign club to have provided players for recent USWNT rosters, although several South America players who will be taking part in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand later this year are also dreaming of Champions League glory.
2022-23 Women’s Champions League quarter-final first legs
Tuesday 21 March
Bayern Munich vs Arsenal (kick-off 1:45 p.m ET)
23-year-old Brazilian defender Tainara, who played for Santos and Palmeiras in her homeland, joined Bayern from French side Bordeaux in 2022. She has won 19 caps for Brazil since making her full international debut in 2021 although she’s not expected to be involved against Arsenal because of an ankle injury.
Tainara’s compatriot Rafaelle is set to play for the Londonders, fresh from winning the Gunners’ Player of the Month award. The experienced defender has played 77 times for Brazil and won the Copa América in both 2018 and 2022.
Roma vs Barcelona (kick-off 4:00 p.m ET)
Yet more Brazilians on show in this tie. For the Italian side, attacking midfielder Andressa, who played for Tuesday’s opponents between 2016 and 2019. The 30-year-old has won a whopping 105 caps for Brazil but hasn’t been involved in recent squads, which suggests she may not make the trip to Australia and New Zealand.
Barça’s Geyse Ferreira played for Madrid CFF and Benfica before making the switch to Catalonia last year. She has netted six times in 18 appearances for the club this season, with fierce competition for places in attack. Geyse has a relatively modest record of six goals in 41 caps for Brazil but is a mainstay of Pia Sundhage’s roster.
Wednesday 22 March
Lyon vs Chelsea (kick-off 1:45 p.m ET)
As mentioned, the only club left in the competition with any USWNT players, and the only non-US club to be represented on the roster recently, is Lyon. Lindsey Horan is the biggest US star playing abroad at the moment, with the 126-cap attacking midfielder in the second year of a loan spell from Portland Thorns. She helped the club win the Champions League last season and is a key player for them as they look for more of the same this time around.
Also part of last year’s Champions League winning team was Catarina Macario. The Brazilian-born attacker declared for the United States and has played 17 times for the Stars and Stripes since 2021, scoring eight goals. The 23-year-old was in especially good goalscoring form at club level last season, netting 22 times in 33 matches for OL. But she suffered an ACL injury on the final day of the 2021-22 campaign and although her return shouldn’t be too far off, isn’t quite yet ready to return to action.
Paris Saint-Germain vs Wolfsburg (kick-off 4:00 p.m ET)
One player who is very much an outsider to make the USWNT’s World Cup roster is Korbin Albert of PSG. The 19-year-old midfielder, a Notre Dame sophomore, moved to the French capital in January and has played a handful of games for her new club so far. The under-20 international is very much one for the future, although July and August will probably come too soon for her.
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