The Women’s Champions League was back this week with the first qualifying round taking place however the teams more fancied to win the competition don’t start their campaign until December. The squad make-up of those top sides continues to fluctuate between homegrown players and overseas recruitment as they try to uncover the formula for success, writes Martin Whiteley.
The past few seasons in Germany has seen a decline in overseas players at the principal sides.
Frauen-Bundesliga table-toppers Bayern Munich, who gained their eighth straight league win after a 3-0 success away to Meppen currently have seven players in their squad from outside of Germany — down from nine last campaign.
Second-place Wolfsburg — two points behind the leaders after a 5-0 victory away against Turbine Potsdam — has nine overseas players in their ranks — reduced from 13 the previous season.
In France, Lyon has slowly increased their overseas contingent recently. Currently, atop of the Division 1 Féminine table with maximum points after seven games, the champions now have 13 players from outside of France in their squad — up from a dozen.
PSG — two points behind Lyon in the standings as the league takes a week’s break — have seen 14 overseas players take the field for them in three of the last four seasons. The only exception was in the 2018-19 campaign when their squad contained 17 non-French players.
Of all the leading sides in Europe, Primera División Femenina champions Barcelona are the one that relies most heavily on players born inside of its borders. Only five players in the Barca squad come from outside of the country — down from seven last term.
The plan of using mostly homegrown players for Barcelona was working well as they sat at the top of the table with maximum points after four games.
Unfortunately, Rayo Vallecano and Levante — Barca’s next two opponents — reported positive Covid-19 results in their camps, and those games had to be postponed.
With a midweek round of fixtures too, the inactivity of Barcelona allowed Atlético Madrid to claim pole position after a 1-0 win away to Eibar.
Twelve different nations make-up 16 overseas squad spots — up from 13 last season for Atlético.
Players from USA, Australia, and Europe — including England internationals Toni Duggan and Jade Moore, on-loan from Orlando are prominent, but the less recruited area of South America is well represented too.
Deyna Castellanos, from Venezuela, and Brazil international Ludmila are currently the joint leading scorers for Atlético with three goals each.
A further point after a scoreless draw at the weekend by Atlético at home to Sporting Huelva gave them a two-point advantage over Barcelona with the pair scheduled to meet in Catalonia on Wednesday.
The outcome of whether the paring of familiar faces or scouring the world on the lookout for talent creates any real advantage will be decided when the major silverware gets handed out.
Language teachers on the other hand will certainly be hoping option two takes off in a big way though.
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