Women’s Champions League summary: Chelsea vs Barcelona Femení: who is the favourite to win? Will Alexia play?
The Catalan side won at Stamford Bridge in the Women’s Champions League semi-final first leg and will take a 0-1 lead to Camp Nou next week.
FC Barcelona Femení were in London this weekend for the Champions League semi-final (7:30 a.m. ET), where they took on English powerhouse Chelsea in the first leg at Stamford Bridge. A 4th minute goal from Caroline Graham Hansen was enough to seal the deal and give Barça a lead in the tie; the second leg will be played next Thursday at Camp Nou.
Emma Hayes’ side set out to cause an upset with a high press all over the pitch against the current Liga F leaders, who came into the tie as favourites, given that they reached the UEFA Women’s Champions League final on the last two occasions, thumping Chelsea 0-4 in 2021 but losing last year at the final hurdle to Lyon.
In the quarter-final, FC Barcelona battered AS Roma 5-1 at home after a tight 0-1 win in the Stadio Olimpico to make the penultimate round of the competition; Chelsea saw off last year’s winners Lyon in a thrilling two-legged tie that went all the way to penalties.
Barcelona continue their league dominance
The Spanish side are, once again, running away with things on a domestic front, and are yet to lose or even draw a game all season. Last year they completed the campaign with 90 of 90 points after 30 games; they will look to achieve a frankly absurd second consecutive invincible title win.
Things did not go so well in the Copa de la Reina, however, with Barça being kicked out of the tournament early on for fielding an illegal player: Geyse Ferreira started the game as FC Barcelona beat Osasuna 0-9, despite being suspended due to a red card she received the previous year when playing for Madrid Club de Fútbol Femenino. As a result, the treble is off for Barça.
Is Alexia fit to play?
Alexia Putellas, the current Ballon d’Or holder, has travelled with the rest of the team but did not form part of the official list to feature, as she is still recovering from an ACL injury that she suffered on 6 July 2022, on the eve of Spain’s Euro 2022 campaign. Apart from Alexia’s absence, manager Jonatan Giráldez had a full squad to choose from and chose a strong starting XI, with his best players on the pitch from the first whistle.
Alexia has returned to full training with her teammates but she was not yet deemed match fit to play. A few days ago, the suggestions that the return leg on April 27 was her target date to return to the pitch seemed to be confirmed, after the player posted a cryptic message with a number 11, the amount of days left before the game at Camp Nou.
Chelsea suffer injury woes
The Women’s Super League is a much more even contest this year than that of the Spanish counterpart, as Chelsea currently sit just 4 points behind Manchester United, who are on 44 points after 18 games. The Blues, however, have the upper hand in the table, as they have two games in hand on their title rivals and would overtake them with two wins.
To add to the rivalry, Chelsea and Manchester United are also set to face off in the Women’s FA Cup final on May 14 at Wembley Stadium, meaning that Chelsea, unlike Barça, are on for a potential treble this season.
As for Chelsea, manager Emma Hayes had a difficult task in choosing her starting XI for the game at home, as she was without her first-choice centre-backs, Millie Bright and Kadeisha Buchanan. The 27-year-old Canadian signed from Lyon in 2022 and recently suffered an injury on international duty, which has ruled her out for the first leg.
Chelsea vs Barcelona Femení: prediction
Apart from the two centre-back injuries, Hayes had a full squad and looked to Sam Kerr and second-half substitute Lauren James for the usual spark of brilliance that the two players regularly show on the pitches across England.
The other semi-final also has an English side: Arsenal overcame Bayern Munich 2-1 on aggregate to seal their place in the final four and will play Wolfsburg, who beat PSG to make the semis.
FT: Chelsea 0-1 FC Barcelona (Hansen, 4′)
Chelsea XI: Berger; Périsset, Mjelde, Eriksson, Carter; Cuthbert, Leupolz, Charles; Cankovic, Kerr, Reiten
FCB XI: Paños: Bronze, Paredes, Mapi, Rolfö; Walsh, Guijarro, Bonmatí; Hansen, Geyse, Salma