Preview: Women’s Champions League Final
Another thrilling season of women’s football is drawing to a close, but the biggest showpiece of them all is still to come. This Sunday, Barcelona take on Chelsea in the final of the UEFA Women’s Champions League. The winner will be the first club other than Lyon to win the trophy since Frankfurt in 2015.
Both clubs have enjoyed stellar seasons, with each of them winning their respective domestic league title last weekend. Chelsea are chasing an historic quadruple having already won the League Cup and the Women’s Super League, with the FA Cup still to play for. However, lifting the Champions League trophy would undoubtedly be the biggest accomplishment for Emma Hayes’ side.
Barcelona are a formidable opponent, though. They are also looking to make history by becoming the first Spanish team to win the competition, and are in a rich vein of form. So who will come out victorious in Gothenburg? We preview the upcoming Women’s Champions League Final.
Chelsea vs. Barcelona
— B/R Football (@brfootball) May 2, 2021
Barcelona secured the Primera Iberdrola title last week after Levante dropped points against Espanyol. In truth, this has long been a foregone conclusion. Barcelona have an incredible 100% success rate so the league this season, winning all 26 games thus far. Their goal difference stands at a scarcely believable +123, having scored 128 goals and conceded just 5.
Sunday’s fixture will be the second Champions League Final in three years for the Spanish club. They were runners up in 2019, losing to serial winners Lyon in the final. Lluís Cortés’ side will feel they have unfinished business in the competition, and will be desperate go one step further and finally get their hands on the famous trophy. One thing’s for sure – Barcelona won’t consider themselves an underdog.
Barcelona’s first two ties were fairly straightforward as they comfortably dispatched PSV Eindhoven, winning by a 4-1 scoreline in each leg. They followed this up by hammering Danish side Fortuna Hjorring 9-0 on aggregate in the round of 16. They were subsequently drawn against Chelsea’s then-title rivals Manchester City in the quarter finals, which made for a fascinating match up.
Barcelona blew City away in the first leg, winning 3-0 at home. City put up a fight in the second leg, but their 2-1 win wasn’t enough to overturn the deficit and Barcelona progressed in impressive style. A semi-final against PSG was next up. The French side had already proved their strengths in the competition by knocking out holders Lyon. However, Barcelona again excelled with a narrow 3-2 aggregate win to send them to Gothenburg.
Barcelona’s strike force rivals any team in Europe. Dutch forward Lieke Martens proved pivotal in the semi-final clash with PSG, scoring the brace that sent Cortés’ side to the final. Caroline Graham Hansen is an exciting talent who has the potential to change games. Striker Jenni Hermoso is the competition’s joint top scorer with 6 goals (level with Chelsea’s Fran Kirby). They’re sure to give the Chelsea back four a real test.
Elsewhere, Mapi Leon will need to be at her best to shore up a defence without her usual centre back partner Andrea Pereira, who is suspended. The 25-year-old Spaniard will have to use all of her experience to keep out a daunting Chelsea forward line. Alexia Putellas will also be key to Barcelona’s hopes. A captain of her national team, the Spanish playmaker was the highest-scoring midfielder in Europe’s top leagues this season.
Potential Line Up
Paños; Torrejón, Guijarro, Mapi León, Ouahabi; Losada, Hamraoui, Putellas; Graham Hansen, Jenni Hermoso, Martens.
Chelsea also secured their title last weekend, with a comprehensive 5-0 victory over Reading ensuring they retained the Women’s Super League trophy. They were made to work for their league success; a win on the final day was necessary in order to keep a spirited Manchester City side at bay. The Blues will be full of confidence that they can overcome any opponent going into Sunday’s fixture.
Local bragging rights are at stake for Chelsea as well as European glory. They are aiming become only the second English team to win the Women’s Champions League. In doing so, they would match the record of fellow London club Arsenal, who won the competition in 2007 as part of their unprecedented quadruple-winning season. If Chelsea overcome a strong Barcelona side to win the trophy themselves, it would arguably be Emma Hayes’ greatest achievement yet.
Chelsea breezed past Benfica in the last 32, hardly getting out of second gear as they smashed the Portuguese side 8-0 on aggregate over the two legs. Things got a little trickier after that, with a 3-1 aggregate scoreline against Atletico Madrid not painting the full picture, as the Spanish side missed 3 penalties over the two legs. However, Chelsea came through unscathed to make the final 8.
The Blues really turned on the style in the quarter-finals, dismantling two-time European Champions Wolfsburg with an impressive 5-1 aggregate win, including a 3-0 victory away from home. They then faced a tricky semi-final tie against Bayern Munich. After a first leg loss, Hayes’ side had it all to do. Chelsea eventually ran out as 5-3 aggregate winners, with a dramatic, last-minute Fran Kirby goal sealing the win in a ridiculously entertaining game.
This Chelsea side is packed with world-class talent, but nowhere more than their front three. Sam Kerr is fresh from winning the WSL golden boot (no mean feat with Vivianne Miedema around), racking up 21 goals in 22 games. Her partnership with Fran Kirby has been well documented; the two sometimes play as if they’re two halves of the same player. Kirby’s outstanding contribution of 16 goals and 11 assists in the league has made her favourite to win the Player of the Year award. Add former UEFA Player of the Year Pernille Harder into the mix and you’ve got some forward line.
It isn’t just in attack that Chelsea are blessed with talent, however. Ann-Katrin Berger is widely considered one of the best goalkeepers in the world. The centre-back partnership of captain Magdalena Eriksson and Millie Bright has proved solid throughout the season. Midfielders Ji So-yun, Melanie Leupolz, and Sophie Ingle have all been instrumental during the European campaign. Chelsea will need all of their stars to step up if they are to achieve European glory.
Berger; Charles, Bright, Eriksson, Carter; Leupolz, Ingle; Ji, Kirby, Harder; Kerr.
We hope you enjoyed the article ‘Preview: Women’s Champions League Final’. Who do you think will win the Women’s Champions League final? Let us know!
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