Swedish side FC Rosengård host Austrians Sportklub Niederösterreich St. Pölten in the first leg of what is considered the tightest of the last 16 ties in the UEFA Women's Champions League. FC Rosengård, who came second in the Damallsvenskan behind Göteborg FC (now BK Häcken) will consider themselves as the favourites for the clash and come into the match with a better European pedigree than their Austrian opponents.
Both sides will also be glad to have drawn the other as neither the Damallsvenskan or Frauen Liga have resumed since the new year and so both Rosengård and St. Pölten have only played a couple friendlies in preparation for the match.
The side from Malmö were not in the Champions League last season, but prior to that made eight successive appearances in the last 16 of the competition including six appearances in the quarter-finals, however you have to go back to 2003 for the only time the made it to the semi-finals and their best appearance. They came through their round of 32 tie in emphatic fashion, beating Georgian side Lanchkhuti 17-0 on aggregate.
St. Pölten are making their first ever appearance in the quarter-finals of the competition on their seventh attempt. The Austrian side are in brilliant form this season, winning both their qualification round matches before beating FC Zürich Frauen 1-0 in Switzerland and comfortably seeing out the home leg 2-0. They have also been in electric form domestically, winning all seven of their seven league games before the winter break.
As this is the first game of their 2021 season, Rosengård will be expected to give a number of players their debuts. New signing Stephanie Labbé expected to play her first game in goal for the Swedish side. The Canadian was signed following the departure of Zecira Musovic who moved to Chelsea. Fellow new signings Olivia Welin, Emma Berglund, and Olivia Schough are all also likely to feature.
However, the biggest team selection news is that last season's top scorer Anna Anvegård is unlikely to make the first leg due to injury. The Swedish international was in superb form before the new year, scoring 16 goals in the league as well as grabbing three goals in the last round of the Champions League.
As they had only been in their midseason break, St. Pölten have not had so much disruption in the make up of their squad. The Austrians have a fully fit squad and have only made one addition in the January transfer window, bringing in Icelander Kristrún Antonsdóttir to bolster the midfield.
Rosengård predicted XI: Labbé (gk), Björn, Berglund, Viggósdóttir, Öling, Brown, Bennison, Čanković, Troelsgaard, Schough, Larsson
St. Pölten predicted XI: Kresch (gk), Tabotta, Bíróová, Balog, Sauer, Zver, Mikolajová, Eder, Meyer, Enzinger, Zágor
Ones to watch
With Anna Anvegård a major doubt, the goal scoring burden for Rosengård will certain fall on the shoulders of Mimmi Larsson. The forward had a brilliant partnership with Anvegård last season with the pair grabbing 30 goals in the Damallsvenskan and were the two top scorers in the league.
The Swede did not feature in either of their matches in the previous round, but has started both of the friendlies in the last month alongside new signing Schough, scoring in both matches.
The biggest threat posed to the Rosengård defence will come in the shape of Stephanie Enzinger. The Austrian is a dynamic winger with a goal scoring edge. She has scored eight goals in nine matches in the Frauen Bundesliga as well as a goal and assist in the Champions League so far this season.
How to watch
The match kicks off on Wednesday at Malmö IP at 17:00 GMT.
The match will be broadcast in Sweden by SportExpressen
Germany and Austria on ORF Sport Plus
Streamed globally on wnited.com