Recognition of Juventus Women’s Champions League group stage opponents
A new format is making its debut in the UEFA Women’s Champions League this season and Juventus Women have been one of the beneficiaries of the new changes. During their short three-year tenure in international competition, Juve never made it past the round of 16, largely due to difficult ties with some of Europe’s top teams, Barcelona and Lyon, during each. the last two seasons.
That changed this season when UEFA introduced new qualification paths for the Women’s Champions League, specifically setting up a new path for champions from smaller leagues. This comes at the expense of some of the bigger clubs that failed to win their league last season, including Manchester City, Rosengard and Bordeaux, who saw their Women’s Champions League campaign end earlier than usual.
Meanwhile, thanks to the Champions path, Juve were favorites in every one of their matches and lived up to expectations, overtaking their three opponents and qualifying to be part of the very first group stage of the 16-a-side competition. teams. And if there was a time for Juventus to have a surprising run in the round of 16, now would be the time to do so with the 2022 Champions League final being played at Juventus stadium in Turin.
The format change now guarantees Juventus Women at least six more appearances in UEFA competition compared to the home and away matches they have faced in the past three seasons.
Juve were placed in Pot 3 for the draw with a coefficient of 15.2, narrowly missing Pot 2 by a few points. The placement of the pot pretty much ensured that it would be an uphill battle for Juventus to come out of any group as they would likely take on the underdog role in the competition for the third season in a row.
Like the men’s group, the first team drawn was Chelsea. Wolfsburg were drawn from Pot 2, with Swiss champion Servette Chenois coming out of Pot 4 to complete the group. The group stage starts this week as Juventus play against Servette on Wednesday night, so let’s see what to expect from Bianconere opponents and how you can follow all the action.
Home: October 13
Outside: December 8
Chelsea are perhaps having their best season ever, winning a domestic brace in England that included the Women’s Super League title and the League Cup. The Blues also made their way to the Champions League final last season for the first time in club history, but were subsequently dismantled by Barcelona in the opening 30 minutes of the game (here we are. also gone).
Still, Chelsea have high expectations to achieve those same feats this season and it’s hard to doubt that as long as Emma Hayes is in charge. The manager brought back a solid core of players who did most of the damage last season, including the attacking duo of Samantha Kerr and Fran Kirby.
Kerr-by, as the duo are aptly nicknamed, broke all xG standards last season and scored 46 goals and 23 assists in all competitions. The season’s performances were incredible, but people doubted the duo could replicate them for another season. They aren’t slowing down just yet, as they already have seven goals and six assists in the opening four games of the league season.
It doesn’t even mention the abundance of talent in the rest of the roster, including Europe’s most expensive transfer to Pernille Harder, who is the other part of the attacking three-headed monster. Guro Reiten, Niamh Charles and Erin Cuthbert add extra breadth to the attack by starting from their winger positions in Hayes’ 3-4-3.
The rest of the defense lacks depth but the talent is still there and they stay sharp whenever everyone is healthy. Millie Bright is in the middle of the defense surrounded by Jessica Carter and Magdalena Eriksson, all of whom have been at the club since 2018.
Chelsea were in the first pot for a reason and they may be favorites to win the group, but they are definitely the favorites to advance to the quarter-finals. It will be a good challenge to see Juventus face one of the best teams and coaches in the world and it might help to have Joe Montemurro at the helm this season, a manager who knows Hayes and Chelsea very well.
Home: November 9
Outside: November 18
Wolfsburg also had to go through qualifying, but due to Germany’s league coefficient it went straight to the second round of the league path. The club actually have the third highest club coefficient in Europe, but had to take the qualifying route after finishing second in the Frauen Bundesliga after a stellar season at Bayern Munich. However, Wolfsburg’s story speaks for itself and expectations to perform in Europe are still very high.
The German side will be chasing their first Women’s Champions League title since 2014, but have made three final appearances since then, losing each time to Lyon. Last season, Wolfsburg were knocked out by Chelsea in the quarter-finals, but the club maintained their trophy streak by winning DFB Pokal, marking the ninth consecutive season with at least one piece of silverware.
They lost key players in the squad last year, especially in the midfield, but manager Tommy Stroot is hopeful some of the newcomers can fill in the gaps. It starts with former Arsenal star Jill Roord, another player Montemurro should know, who looked good at the start with her new team. Roord should have more freedom than she ever had with the help of playing in front of teenage star Lena Oberdorf, who has proven to be one of the best midfielders in the world.
Wolfsburg suffered a heavy blow at the end of last season when Alexandra Popp had to undergo knee surgery. The club then turned to Ewa Pajor, who led the league in goals by 90 minutes last season. She has already scored six goals and three assists in all competitions this year, including three goals in qualifying matches against Bordeaux. However, the club announced on Monday that Pajor will be out for several months as she also needs knee surgery after sustaining an injury while on international service.
Wolfsburg’s attack may not be as deadly as she hoped for, but they still have veteran Svenja Huth, a seasoned striker who usually plays just behind the front line but is more than capable of filling in the attacking role.
Wolfsburg is another big challenge for Juventus and will feel they deserve to be called group favorites but certainly one of the favorites to progress. Wolfsburg have made all of the Champions League quarter-finals since the 2012-13 season, his first year in the competition.
Home: December 16
Outside: October 6
Juventus open and close the group stage against the Swiss champions, which can come in handy as the team seek a confidence boost to start the competition. Plus, it might be nice to have a more winnable game at the end if Juventus are within striking distance of either of the top two spots.
However, Juventus will likely need the six points against Servette to have a chance in the squad and Servette will not roll so easily. The club have several experienced players and they all got a taste of the Champions League last season so don’t expect this to be too big for the Garnets.
Last season, Servette was eliminated from this competition in the same way as Juventus. The Swiss team actually took a 2-1 lead over Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the round of 16, but the Spanish side proved too strong in the second half before running away tied in the of the return trip to Madrid, beating Servette 9-2 overall.
Now Servette has started strong in their domestic competition despite losing their first game of the season. After losing points on the road against Zurich, Servette took four consecutive victories to climb straight up to third place in the Swiss standings.
In international competition, Servette secured two 1-0 victories in the Champions Path to advance to the second qualifying round where he was pitted against Glasgow City. After a draw in the first leg, Servette traveled to Scotland and came from behind for a 2-1 victory, securing her place in the group stage.
Manager Eric Severac, who recently signed a contract extension with the club, has not budged from his 4-2-3-1 roster this season, demanding a lot from his midfielders on both sides of the pitch. At the heart of this midfielder is veteran Sandy Mändly, who scored the game-winning goal against Glasgow City. She does most of the work to tie the defense and midfield together with the striker playing as the only striker. For much of qualifying, that work was done by Jade Boho who scored three goals in four matches. Boho can also switch to the wing, allowing Spain’s Marta Gimenez to add to the attack.
In defense, Servette relied heavily on Swiss captain and former Bayern Munich player Caroline Abbé. In front of her, in a midfielder role, is Canadian veteran Alyssa Lagonia.
Servette certainly has the experience of working for this and it will make it harder for Juventus and maybe even Chelsea and Wolfsburg to make the Swiss team’s job easier.