One other UEFA Women’s Champions League matchweek has been and gone, with VfL Wolfsburg the following group to lose their 100% report within the group stage, leaving simply Chelsea and Barcelona but to drop a degree. Certainly, it is Barcelona who’re trying just like the group to beat this season, their calmness in securing a 3-0 win in what ought to have been a taxing recreation towards Bayern Munich showcased their potential to dictate any match.
Like an motion hero strolling away from an explosion with out even flinching, there’s something so unwaveringly cool and relaxed about how Jonatan Giraldez’s group do their job.
Once we go searching world ladies’s soccer, the phrase “transitional” is the one I repeatedly favour about so many nationwide groups. But when we deal with the highest finish of European competitors, “transitional” could possibly be used repeatedly within the Champions League. Though, after this week’s video games, possibly “wobbly” is a greater description.
Having discovered their rhythm final season underneath Tommy Stroot — after their very own wobbly spell — Wolfsburg have appeared good for his or her lead on the high of the Frauen Bundesliga. But, their midweek journey to Italy within the Champions League put an finish to their profitable methods. Even with the draw, the She Wolves stay unbeaten in 19 video games, with this draw the one time they have not received since shedding to Barcelona final season.
Towards Roma, of their first season within the competitors, Wolfsburg had been the favourites, even once they went a objective down within the third minute, the chances weren’t within the favour of the hosts. And but, after 90 minutes, Wolfsburg had managed an equaliser and nothing extra, making for a historic evening in Latina [against the other She Wolves.]
In a bunch that is grow to be as wobbly as a jelly manufacturing facility in a time warp, injury-riddled Arsenal might solely handle a 1-1 draw towards a Juventus facet at present going by way of the hardest time of their [relatively short] home historical past. Certainly, the Bianconere are in want of some contemporary blood to revitalise an getting older squad which can be going through more durable and more durable questions every week within the more and more aggressive Serie A. The match led to a draw regardless that all three factors had been there for whoever needed them, ending Arsenal’s 100% run in Europe, mirroring their very own sudden home stumbles.
Elsewhere, Lyon got a confidence increase with a 3-0 win towards a defensively naive Zurich, which might go away the previous few matches within the group a little bit of a free-for-all with one misstep sufficient to swing your complete group.
Transferring to Group A — or the “teams flattering to deceive” group — PSG additionally discovered their mojo with a confidence-inspiring win over backside seed Vllaznia, who’ve now conceded 15 instances with no reply. However towards groups extra outfitted to cope with them, PSG nonetheless have the look of a group attempting to write down with a blunted pencil. The return of Sandy Baltimore to the beginning XI is one thing that has given the group extra chunk, however Gerard Precheur remains to be labouring to seek out stability throughout an assault that for all its high quality, is crying out for a pure centre-forward.
In order that’s PSG however what of Actual Madrid, who misplaced their first Champions League match [2-0 to Chelsea] this week? Flat. Simply, so unbelievably underwhelming. It is a group who began the marketing campaign strongly and had type from final season to construct on, however the place they need to have been taking steps up, shifting ahead of their improvement, they’ve stalled.
After the match, head coach Alberto Toril spoke of being proud of how the group performed. He needed to impress that they had been nonetheless a younger group, however his feedback bore the mark of media converse: simply sizzling air jetted into an all-too small press room. The group weren’t set as much as utilise their higher attacking gamers, and for a group that all the time seems higher going ahead, the query was why the stability was so off? Why had been Madrid extra adverse towards Chelsea than Barcelona?
Ultimately, Chelsea’s high quality shone by way of, but it surely would not have been so outlandish to suppose, given how missing in entrance of objective the Blues had been, that Madrid might have snatched a degree. Certainly, towards PSG a month in the past, the hosts might have taken greater than a solitary level, however the soccer has began to roll backwards and as a substitute of studying from these video games in addition to the group stage final season, the group appear hell bent on slowly wheeling backwards, undoing a lot progress.
Perhaps essentially the most irritating of the 16 groups left in Europe this season, as a substitute of rising to the challenges that greet them, Las Blancas appear extra motivated to wave a white flag and say, “Well, we’re only young.”
So lastly, we come to the group of these cool motion heroes, together with the final group to lose a Champions League last: the Blaugrana.
Firstly, it is key to notice that Benfica lastly bought up and operating with a 1-0 win over Rosengard and the Portuguese champions actually deserved all three factors. Regardless of beginning effectively towards Bayern once they clashed final month, a late rally from the guests noticed three factors dwindle to 1 to, within the 98th minute, a figurative punch within the intestine with solely a 3-2 loss to indicate for an evening’s work. So, regardless that they sit third within the group, Benfica are but able to inflicting points even when their 9-0 loss to Barcelona has had them scrambling.
However this is not about Benfica, it is about Barcelona, who’ve proven that even when they’re with out double Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas and inspirational winger Caroline Graham Hansen, they’re powerful to try to get the higher of.
For Bayern, who’ve a brand new coach — hi there to a different transitional group — and have been getting used to a change within the dugout, they did a fantastic job within the first half to include their opposition. Sadly, containing Barcelona is like taking part in whack-a-mole, bonking one on the pinnacle is not going to cease the following to popping up, nor are they going to decelerate simply because your arm is getting drained.
So, regardless that Sarah Zadrazil put in a decent shift to maintain Patri Guijarro quiet, there was nonetheless the matter of Keira Walsh and Aitana Bonmatí to smother in midfield, in addition to Claudia Pina, Geyse and Ana-Maria Crnogorevic to try to mark within the field. Oh, and remember the influence of Fridolina Rolfo from left-back, the pure attacker created 5 possibilities and completed the sport with 86% go accuracy (as per Fotmob,)
The 45 minutes of onerous graft put in by the guests was undone moments into the second half when Crnogorevic knocked down Rolfo’s cross for Geyse to nod in on the again put up, the Brazilian attacker left unmarked within the field. For Barcelona, the passing strains had been open and Munich had been there for the taking. The Bavarians solely opening up extra because the half wore on, Aitana’s objective on the hour signalling the purpose of no return. Barcelona had been at their finest for his or her third and last objective of the evening that highlights why they’re such a tough group to beat.
It was a transfer that began on the again and everybody bar Lucy Bronze and Crnogorevic had been allowed a contact because the ball pinged from one pair of Barca ft to the following, with Munich gamers hopelessly attempting to chase the ball down. Pulled off form and anticipating extra of the identical dizzying passes, the visiting backline left to sag as Pina pulled the set off from 20 yards, guiding the ball by way of a delicate upward curve and go away goalkeeper Maria Luisa Grohs greedy at air as she was crushed for a 3rd time.
Even once they’re not at their finest and lacking starters, Barcelona proceed to hawk that mesmerising hive-mind soccer that can not be stopped. Outplayed, pissed off and crestfallen within the last final season, this group have proven that they did have weak factors. However with how they’re taking part in, with the ache from Torino as a possible gas to fireplace them on this time period, it is onerous to think about any group stopping them from lifting the trophy as soon as extra.