Women's Champions League: Atleti vs Barca, Glasgow vs Wolfsburg

Here's all you need to know about the quarterfinal ties between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, and Glasgow and Wolfsburg in the UEFA Women's Champions League in Spain on Friday.

An upside to the delay is the time it has given teams to strengthen their squads. A lively transfer window has spruced up competition this season.   -  UEFA

Atletico Madrid will take on Barcelona while Wolfsburg will face Glasgow as Champions League (UWCL) action returns to women's European football in Spain on Friday.

The rescheduled ties are taking place by five months after they were originally supposed to be held. The UWCL, like other sporting tournaments, came to a grinding halt due to the coronavirus pandemic. A fresh draw was held on June 26 and a new schedule was announced where, like the men's variant, the playoffs were reduced to single-game knockouts featuring the last eight teams. All ties will be held behind closed doors and strict testing and COVID-19 safety protocol have to be adhered to. 

An upside to the delay is the time it has given teams to strengthen their squads. A lively transfer window has spruced up competition this season with teams bringing in reinforcements from around the world to bolster their sides.

Here's everything you need to know about the two games on Friday:

1. Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona [9.30pm IST]

A COVID-struck Atletico Madrid side takes on a charged up Barcelona team in the quarterfinal. Atletico, which is in its first last eight appearance, already stands depleted due to a number of players testing positive for the coronavirus. It has also seen departures including goalkeepers Lola Gallardo and Sari van Veenendaal, the latter being replaced by Hedvig Lindahl, who joins from Wolfsburg.

The transfer window has also allowed Atleti to strengthen at the back, with Meryl van Dongen and Alia Guagni, while Turid Knaak will bolster the midfield. The side can also bank on the experience of Jade Moore and Emelyne Laurent.

Atleti has had a disappointing domestic season finishing second behind Barcelona, which won the title by nine points. The side also failed to reach the Copa de la Reina quarterfinals for the first time since 2012. There have been instabilities in the coaching department as well, with three changes in this season alone.

While it is difficult for the Colchoneras to even think about survival in the tournament beyond the semifinal (best case), it will be a big shot in the arm for this battered side to get past a confident Barcelona in the last eight.

Barca, on the other hand, comes in on the back of a domestic title win and a clean win record. The side's cohesion up front makes it cumbersome to steal possession from the players. An exciting signing in this transfer window for Barca has been 17-year-old Brazilian full-back Jana Fernandez, whose speed fits in nicely with the Spanish side. The side has the striking capabilities of Jennifer Hermoso, the league's top scorer with 23 goals.

Barca will hope to thwart Atleti's feeble challenge and proceed further in the tournament than its male counterpart this season.

2. Glasgow City vs Wolfsburg [9.30pm IST]

German champion Wolfsburg, a two-time winner by itself will hope to get past its Glasgow challenge and continue its pursuit for a third European title. Wolfsburg has the advantage of having played recently when the Frauen Bundesliga resumed, while Glasgow last played competitively in February. Glasgow has a dubious record of being shown the door by German clubs in this competition.

Glasgow's best show in this tournament has been a quarterfinal finish which it last managed in 2014/15. The arrivals of South African skipper Janine van Wyk, full-back Zaneta Wyne and striker Krystyna Freda from Cyprus will add to the side's arsenal at both ends.

Wolfsburg walks into this tie as the favourite, especially since its coming off a home triumph a few months ago. Adding to Pernille Harder's (101 goals in 111 games for the team) form, the club has added reinforcements in the form of striker Pauline Bremer, former Bayern defender Kathrin Hendrich, a new goalkeeper in Katarzyna Kiedrzynek and young Len Oberdorf. However, the squad will miss the services of Almuth Schul, who is enjoying time off as a new mom to twins.

Wolfsburg head coach, Stephan Lerch told The Guardian, "It’s a big challenge, because there’s barely any time to integrate our new players and explain our tactics in detail. After all, the truth will be found on the pitch in Spain.”

How the newcomers will ease into this already well-oiled machine will be interesting to see. Veteran keeper Hedvig Lindahl has left the club along with a few others and Wolfsburg will want to ensure it leaves no opportunity to rue the departures.

Kickoff for both games is at 9.30pm IST and can be streamed LIVE on the UEFA app (Available on Android and iOS).

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