Barcelona, Chelsea, Linköping, Manchester City, Montpellier, Olympique Lyonnais, Slavia Praha and VfL Wolfsburg all learnt of their quarter-final and potential semi-final opposition as UEFA Women’s Champions League draw takes place in Nyom.
The only team to have never reached the quarter-finals before, Chelsea were drawn away to a Montpellier team that had been away from the competition for seven years. Though one team has a longer history in the UWCL, the other has been a consistent fixture for the last three seasons, the London team finally managing to get over the figurative German hurdle to reach the last eight.
Leaving it close against Bayern Munich – and progressing on away goals – Chelsea dispatched with an off the pale Rosengård team at home before wrapping the job up in Malmö to book their spot in the quarters. Similarly, Montpellier left it close in the round of 32, needing two goals in Russia to overcome Zvezda before taking a 3-2 advantage into their home leg against Brescia. A 6-0 drubbing at the Stade de la Mosson one of the shocks of the night as the Division 1 Féminine runners-up hit their stride.
Seen as the weakest team left in the last eight, Slavia were done no favours as they drew one of the remaining two previous winners. The current Czech champions, Slavia are in their fourth consecutive UWCL season, a heavy loss to Lyon in March 2016 their undoing in their first and last quarter final appearance. A 3-1 win in Minsk kicked off their tournament before the Belarusians made things as interesting as they could in the return leg, losing 3-4, the result saw Slavia progress and carry a narrow 2-1 advantage over Stjarnan back to Prague where a scoreless draw was enough.
Undone in the quarter-finals last year, 2016-17 saw Wolfsburg lose out to a French team for the third time on the spin (vs PSG in the 2014-15 semi-finals, vs Lyon in the 2015-16 final and vs Lyon in the 2016-17 quarters). Heavy scorers in this season’s competition, Wolfsburg overcame Spanish champions, Atleti in the round of 32 with a comfortable 3-0 in Madrid before hitting a second-string team for 12. A 4-0 in Florence in the round of 16 had the Wolves set up for a repeat performance of their previous exploits before their own weakened team was pushed all the way by a stubborn Fiorentina team who left with a credible draw after a breathless 3-3.
In their seventh UWCL tie, the WSL champions will be facing their fourth different Scandinavian team and the last still standing in the competition as they have been drawn at home to Damallsvenskan winners, Linköping.
Two comfortable 3-0 wins saw the Citizens ease past St. Pölten in the round of 32 before putting five past LSK in Lillestrøm, the return leg more of a formality as the Toppserien champions came away with a more respectable 1-2 loss.
In their third quarter final appearance in four outings in the competition, Linköping find themselves facing their third English opposition in eleven total knock-out rounds – having lost on aggregate to Arsenal in 2011 after two draws and turning around a first-leg defeat to Liverpool in 2014. A nervous 1-0 win over Apollon kicked their 2017-18 UWCL season off before they hit second gear at home to put three past the Cypriots, the next round saw an equally as uncomfortable 1-1 away to Sparta Praha before another 3-0 at home.
In their sixth successive season in the UWCL, Barcelona have reached the quarter-finals for the fourth time, their only semi-final appearance that of last year when they lost to PSG – the only French side they’ve faced (twice) but never beaten. Yet to be truly tested in Europe this season, Barcelona eased past Toppserien runners-up Avaldsnes in the round of 32 before putting nine past Lithuanian university team, Gintra over two legs in the last 16.
Current holders and perpetual title-favourites, Lyon are similarly as yet to be fully tested, having hit Medyk Konin and BIIK Kazygurt for 14 and 16 goals respectively over the first two knock-out rounds of the tournament. In ten previous seasons, Les Fenottes have only faced Spanish opposition once when they clashed with Atletico Madrid in a last 16 tie in 2015-16 (the season they went on to win their third title).
Though neither team know too much about each other, this is certainly the tie that has most people salivating, the Catalans a growing force but still maybe not enough to dislodge the four-time champions.
Full draw for the quarters, semis and grand final
QF1: Montpellier vs Chelsea
QF2: VfL Wolfsburg vs Slavia Praha
QF3: Manchester City vs Linköping
QF4: Olympique Lyonnais vs Barcelona
SF1: Montpellier/Chelsea vs Wolfsburg/Slavia
SF2: Man City/Linköping vs Lyon/Barcelona
Final (for home and away purposes): Winner of SF1 vs Winner of SF2
The quarter-finals will be played over the 21-22 and the 28-29 of March with the semi-finals set for the 21-22 and 28-29 of April, the grand final in Kyiv on 24 May.