With holders Lyon crashing out of the Women’s Champions League, Martin Whiteley discusses the semi-final ties as teams vie to take the title for a first time.
Lyon’s bid for a sixth-straight Champions League success was ended after defeat to fellow French side Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday.
Lyon had gained the upper hand after the first leg, thanks to a late penalty converted by captain Wendie Renard.
PSG were able to turn things around with a 2-1 away victory in the delayed second-leg clash – caused by a Covid-19 outbreak in the ranks of the holders – but Renard scored a decisive own goal on this occasion as PSG set up a semi-final tie with Barcelona.
A round-of-16 contest in November 2014 was the last time Lyon had failed to progress in the Champions League. After drawing the first leg 1-1, they fell to a single Fatmire Alushi goal at home to PSG.
During their remarkable run, Lyon only suffered two losses in individual games – both in the 2016-17 campaign with 1-0 defeats against Wolfsburg and Manchester City – and excluding finals only three sides had been able to even claim a draw.
Wolfsburg had been beaten in the final on three occasions by Lyon. PSG and Barcelona the other sides to end their big day by collecting a losers medal.
With the holders now eliminated, a new set of teams will be looking to get their hands on the trophy for the first time after this year’s final in Gothenburg on 16 May.
The Spanish champions have been near perfect this season domestically and at the weekend dismantled basement side Deportivo La Coruña 9-0 at home. That success was their 23rd consecutive league win as they stretched their advantage at the top of the Primera División Femenina table. They also still have three games in hand on their closest competitors.
A 1-0 home win against Lyon in November put PSG in pole position to claim their first French league title and they have been able to maintain top spot as things stand.
PSG and Barcelona have met in the Champions League twice before. The French side advancing both times and will have home advantage in the opening game this time around.
The two other remaining Champions League participants also occupy top spot in their respective homeland leagues.
Bayern Munich, however, did see their advantage over Wolfsburg at the top of the Frauen-Bundesliga cut to two points after they suffered a 3-2 home loss against Hoffenheim.
Women’s Super League leaders Chelsea currently hold a two-point lead over Manchester City with the two sides scheduled to meet each other in Manchester on 21 April.
In a tight tussle, Chelsea came out on top on away goals in the only previous Champions League encounter between the two sides — round of 32, October 2017.
Home advantage will go to Bayern in the opening contest scheduled for 25 April. Chelsea are back in familiar surroundings one week later.
Lyon have shown in the past the mental strength that is needed to win important games. Now that pressure falls on four other sides looking to follow in their footsteps – which one of them will handle it the best though?
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