Women’s Worldwide round-up: Champions League revamp, Lyon tighten grip on league top spot

Martin Whiteley gives a women’s worldwide round-up of all the happenings across Germany, France and Spain, plus the changes set for the Champions League. 

Back-to-back wins for leading three sides in Germany

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A visit to play SC Sand saw leaders Wolfsburg increase their unbeaten league run to 12 games. Last week Wolfsburg found the net seven times on their travels to face Bayer Leverkusen and this time they scored four – again without reply  – to move onto 34 points. Pernille Harder netted a hat-trick for the second match in a row.  

Second in the table Hoffenheim made it nine league games unbeaten after a 2-0 home win against basement team USV Jena. Nicole Billa scored both goals to give her five in her last two games, as Hoffenheim remain three points behind the leaders.

Another side that enjoyed home comforts was third-place Bayern Munich. Playing in the opening game of the round, Bayern moved to 28 points after a 2-0 success against Freiburg. To add to the woes for the away team, Naomi Mégroz was dismissed in second-half stoppage-time.

Lyon tighten grip on Feminine Division 1 top spot  

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Leaders Lyon continued their unbeaten start with a 6-0 victory against bottom side Metz. Lucy Bronze and Nikita Parris started, with the latter scoring goal number five. Izzy Christiansen made a late appearance for Ada Hegerberg, who had scored a hat-trick. Alex Greenwood an unused substitute, as the home side gained their fifth straight league win to move onto 31 points. The loss for Metz was their eighth in a row and keeps them on one point.

Second-place PSG were involved in the game of the round at home to fourth in the table Montpellier. The hosts had shown indifferent form the last few weeks with a win, a loss and a draw in their last three outings. PSG broke the deadlock through substitute Ashley Lawrence in first-half stoppage time — just over 10 minutes after she had entered the action. Montpellier with an equaliser in the 69th minute — thanks to an own goal from Grace Geyoro — to get them a share of the spoils. The draw for the hosts leaves them five points behind the leaders. The point for Montpellier moved them on to 21.

Third in the table Bordeaux were able to close the gap on PSG to two points after they registered a 2-0 win at home to Reims.

Barcelona build on lead as winning run continues

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Barcelona extended their lead at the top of the Primera División Femenina table to five points after a 3-0 win at home to second from bottom side Real Betis. The victory for the table-toppers stretched their unbeaten run in league play to 11 games – the last nine wins – and moves them onto 31 points.

In a couple of intriguing contests in Spain this weekend the following four teams in the standings were all involved in games against one other. Second-place Atletico Madrid hosted Athletic Bilbao, who came into the weekend in fifth place. Deportivo de La Coruña on the road against Levante, who were a place below them in fourth and three points adrift on 19. 

Atletico welcomed back Toni Duggan to the starting line-up, but for the second week in a row they had to settle for a share of the spoils. Twice Atletico hit the front, but each time they were pegged back as the game ended 2-2. The draw extended the home sides unbeaten league run to eight games. The point for Athletic Bilbo stretched their unbeaten run to three games, as they advanced onto 19 points.

In the final game of the round, Levante made it three straight wins to move up to third place after a 1-0 success against Deportivo de La Coruña. Alba Redondo with the only goal just before half-time. The reversal for Deportivo was their third loss in their last four outings and saw them drop below their opponents on head-to-head results.

Women’s Champions League set for a revamp 

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The changes to the structure of the Women’s Champions League were agreed on December 4 by the UEFA Executive Committee in Nyon and are set to start in 2021.  

What are the main changes?

The current knockout round of 16 will be replaced by a group stage. This will see four groups of four teams playing each other home and away. The top two sides in each group will advance to the quarter-finals. 

Also altering are the number of teams from the leading associations that gain entry into the competition. The top-six ranked associations (as per the Women’s Association Club Coefficients at the start of the previous season, i.e. summer 2020 for 2021/22) will each receive three places. The associations ranked seven to 16 will have two spots available. All other associations will be given a place for their domestic champions as before. 

Games should be more accessible to watch from earlier in the competition

Media rights will be centralised from the group stage with UEFA producing every game for TV or online streaming purposes.

When do teams join the competition? 

The champions of the three top-ranked associations will go through directly to the group stage and should the holders not be among these teams, they will also advance to this stage. It is still to be confirmed by UEFA what would happen if the same team qualifies by being the holders and also claims a spot as champions from one of the top three associations. The first access list will be issued later next year.

Prior to the group stage, there will be two rounds of qualifying, split into champions and league paths (like the men’s Champions League) to ensure that teams from ten associations make it through to the group stage.

Round one of both the champions and league paths will still see a one-venue qualifying tournament being played, but it will now consist of one-off semi-finals, a third-place match and a final. Winners of the final advance to round two. The following teams would begin at this stage: 

Champions path: The champions of associations ranked seven and below.

League path: The runners-up of the associations ranked seven to 16 and the third-ranked teams of the associations ranked one to six.

Round two will be played as home and away ties and will consist of the following:

Champions path: The three champions of associations four to six and the winners of round one. 

League path: The round one winners and the runners-up of the associations ranked one to six.

Follow Martin in Twitter @673martin

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