After Lyon’s five-year reign as European champions was ended by Barcelona last season, the Women’s Champions League has undergone a revamp. This season, 16 teams in four groups of four will compete in the competition’s first group stage to be played with both home and away fixtures.
Barcelona triumphed last season
The group stages kick off on October 5 with Germany’s hopes pinned on last season’s semifinalists Bayern Munich and two-time Champions League winners Wolfsburg. Hoffenheim are set to make their debut in the competition, but boasting a prolific goal scorer in their ranks, the first timers are looking to make a name for themselves.
Champions League history: Bayern have been mounting a title charge in Europe in recent years as they look to add to the three Frauen Bundesliga titles they’ve picked up in the last seven seasons. In the previous campaign, the Bavarians matched their best-ever run last season only to be knocked out by Chelsea, who went on the lose the final against Barcelona.
Group draw reaction: Seven-time champions Lyon were the Pot 2 team everyone wanted to avoid as Bayern were handed the trickiest tie of all. The two sides have history with Lyon picking up a 2-1 win in the 2019/20 quarter finals on route to winning a fifth-straight title. BK Häcken and Benfica make up the Group D and anything but a knockout stage berth will be disappointing for Bayern.
Champions League history: Wolfsburg won back-to-back Champions League titles in 2013 and 2014, but have failed to add a third title in three attempts having lost in the final to Lyon in 2016, 2018 and 2020. Head coach Stephan Lerch lamented “individual mistakes” in last season’s quarterfinal exit to Chelsea and improvements have been targeted in 2021.
Group draw reaction: The She Wolves will have a chance to prove lessons have been learned when they meet Chelsea again having been drawn together in Group A. As if that wasn’t enough of a challenge, Wolfsburg’s group also features two domestic champions, Juventus who won 22 of 22 league games last season and Swiss side Servette FCCF.
Champions League history: Along with HB Koge and Real Madrid, Hoffenheim are one of three teams featuring in the Women’s Champions League group stages for the first time. Led by Women’s Footballer of the Year and top scorer Nicole Billa, who scored 23 goals in 21 games, Hoffenheim finished 3rd in the Frauen Bundesliga last season.
Group draw reaction: Hoffenheim are one of three teams making their debuts in the competition this season and one of two to be drawn in Group C along with HB Koge. What better way to get acquainted with the competition than taking on the reigning European champions Barcelona and former title winners Arsenal, who triumphed in 2006/07?