Barcelona and Lyon headline Women's Champions League quarterfinals. Hayes' Chelsea targets quadruple

Mon, Mar 18, 2024
Soccer News (AP)

Barcelona and Lyon headline Women's Champions League quarterfinals. Hayes' Chelsea targets quadruple

The Women's Champions League resumes this week with the lineup for the quarterfinals including reigning champion Barcelona, record eight-time champion Lyon, quadruple-chasing Chelsea and two newcomers to this stage in Benfica and Brann.

It's Ajax vs. Chelsea and Benfica vs. Lyon on Tuesday, and Häcken vs. Paris Saint-Germain and Brann vs. Barcelona on Wednesday.

Ahead of the first legs, here are some things to know about the teams:

REPEAT FOR BARCELONA?

Barcelona is seeking to win the competition for the third time in four years and keep up its country's dominance of the club and international game. After all, Spain is the current world champion and won the inaugural edition of the Women's Nations League last month. Domestically, Barcelona is Spain's shining light and was the top scorer (27 goals) in the group stage, while also gaining more points (16) than any other team. Its lineup contains Spain stars Aitana Bonmati, who won the Ballon d'Or last year, and Alexia Putellas.

CHELSEA'S QUADRUPLE BID

Emma Hayes' final season at Chelsea before taking charge of the United States women's team could be momentous. Chelsea is still alive in four competitions, with Hayes' team leading the Women's Super League on goal difference, recently advancing to the March 31 final of the League Cup and in the quarterfinals of the FA Cup. Chelsea has never won the Women's Champions League and, as England's only remaining representative, is looking to become the country's first women's European champion since Arsenal in 2007. Australia star Sam Kerr is not available, however, because of an ACL injury.

SCANDINAVIAN OUTSIDERS

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Scandinavia is represented by two teams in the quarterfinals: Swedish champion Häcken and Norwegian champion Brann. While Häcken has twice got to this stage before but no further, Brann is a newcomer to the quarterfinals in just its second season in Europe after being the weakest team in the group stage, according to UEFA's coefficients. Brann qualified from its group along with Lyon to become the second Norwegian quarterfinalist in 14 years, despite playing almost the entire group stage in its offseason. Häcken was known as Goteborg FC the last time it reached the last eight, in 2013, and qualified ahead of Real Madrid.

FRENCH HOPES

Lyon, the most dominant team in the tournament's history, and two-time finalist PSG are the French hopes and have been drawn in the same half, setting up a potential meeting in the semifinals. Lyon, which won its first 11 quarterfinals but lost at this stage in two of the last three seasons, travels to first-time quarterfinalist Benfica and that puts coach Sonia Bompastor in a sticky spot. She was born in France to Portuguese parents. "My entire Portuguese family supports Benfica and has this club in their blood," Bompastor said. "We played two years ago, my family had the opportunity to travel and will be there again."

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AP Sports Writer Samuel Petrequin contributed to this report.

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