It was contrasting fortunes for the two remaining English clubs in the Women’s Champions League today as Chelsea beat Wolfsburg to reach the semi finals, but Man City were knocked out by Barcelona.
Emma Hayes’ side were both ruthless in attack and resolute in defence, as Chelsea won 3-0 on the day and 5-1 on aggregate to advance to the semi’s for the third time.
Meanwhile, City were much improved from their first leg performance and won the match 2-1, though this was not enough to avenge the 3-0 defeat they suffered last week.
Here are five things we learned from the two games:
Steph Houghton is irreplaceable
City are without captain Steph Houghton through injury at present, and the England skipper’s absence has forced Gareth Taylor into assembling a makeshift defence.
Their woes at the back were punished by Barcelona last week and though both Esme Morgan and Alex Greenwood played well this evening, it still wasn’t enough to prevent the Spanish side from scoring.
As City now look ahead to a season-defining game against Chelsea in the Women’s Super League in a few weeks, the fitness of Houghton seems all the more crucial.
Barcelona can challenge anyone
Looking ahead to the semi finals, Barcelona will face either PSG or Lyon. While both are teams to be feared, on the evidence of their performances against City and their unprecedented league form, the Catalonian side can beat anybody.
The likes of Asisat Oshoala and Jenni Hermoso can cause any club problems, and their defence boasts 14 clean sheets in 17 games in 2021.
Though City will look back on this tie and feel they could’ve done better, Barcelona were no doubt the deserving victors across the two legs.
Chelsea have a plethora of defensive options
Chelsea have been forced to contend with several missing defenders in recent weeks. Yet, unlike Man City, their strength in depth has been remarkable.
When Maren Mjelde was injured, in stepped Niamh Charles –– and with Charles suspended for today’s game, in stepped Jess Carter.
The 23-year-old offered little evidence of being a third choice right-back as Chelsea were marshalled by the impressive Magda Eriksson and dealt with Wolfsburg comfortably throughout.
As a semi final now looms, the biggest question for Emma Hayes is not how to deal with defensive absences, but who she should choose to start.
Kerr, Kirby, Harder
There aren’t enough superlatives to describe Chelsea’s forward trio, and right now all of them seem to be in magnificent form.
All three were on the scoresheet today, as Harder didn’t hesitate to celebrate against her old club.
Chelsea have had ambitious expectations placed on them in the past, but with a wealth of defensive options and perhaps the most feared forward line in women’s football, there is an ever-growing sense that this could finally be their year.
Wolfsburg are not the same force they once were
Stephan Lerch’s side put up a good contest across the two legs and arguably deserved to win last week’s fixture. Nonetheless, the German team were outclassed today and looked a shadow of the Wolfsburg we’ve become accustomed to seeing.
The likes of Pernille Harder, Mary Earps and Caroline Graham-Hansen have all left the club and as much as the team is still competitive, it is certainly not the same level as before.
With Bayern Munich unbeaten domestically this season, and likely to reach the Champions League semis themselves, it seems a new German giant is beginning to emerge.News Now - Sport News