UEFA Women’s Champions League: All you need to know

As the round of 16 in the Women’s Champions League begins on Wednesday, here’s a look at the format of the tournament, the teams, key players and more.

The draws of the Women's UCL.   -  Getty Images

When Spanish champion Atletico enters the field at the Academy Stadium on Wednesday in the Women's Champions League, it will hope to upset Manchester City again. When the two sides met last year in the round of 32, Atletico had the last laugh as City was handed a shock exit - the first time it had failed to make the semifinals in three entries.

Atletico’s face-off with City is one of the talking points of the Women’s Champions League, as the round of 16 kicks off, starting Wednesday. German giants Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich are the other teams in the mix, alongside title defender Lyon, former winner Arsenal, and past finalists PSG and Barcelona.

As teams from 11 countries head into the round of 16, we take a look at the competition’s format, the draws, the teams’ progress so far, key players, and more.

What is the format of the competition?

The 2019-20 Women’s UCL is the 19th edition of European women’s club championship and 11th edition since the tournament was rebranded as the UEFA Women’s Champions League. From 2001 to 2009, it was known as the UEFA Women’s Cup.

Apart from the change in name of the tournament, other significant modifications were the inclusion of runners-up from the top eight ranked nations, a one-off final as opposed to the two-legged finals in previous years, and – until 2018 – playing the final in the same city as the men's UEFA Champions League final.

The teams qualify based on their association ranking, with associations 1 to 12 having two teams each qualifying. All other associations, should they enter the qualifiers, have only one team each qualify.

For this year’s Champions League, the associations were allocated places according to their 2018 UEFA women's country coefficients, which takes into account their performance in European competitions from 2013-14 to 2017-18.

Unlike the men's Champions League, not every association enters a team, so the exact number of teams entering in the qualifying round and knockout phase cannot be determined until the full entry list is known.

For this year’s edition, a record 62 teams from 50 associations entered the tournament and 40 of them were involved in the qualifying round. An association must have an eleven-a-side women's domestic league to enter a team.

In general, the title holders, the champions of the top 12 associations, and the runners-up of highest-ranked associations (the exact number depending on the number of entries) receive a bye to the round of 32.

All other teams (runners-up of lowest-ranked associations and champions of associations starting from 13th) enter the qualifying round, with the group winners and a maximum of two best runners-up advancing to the round of 32.

This year, 22 teams received a bye, and 10 teams progressed from the qualifying rounds on account of being group winners - to enter the round of 32.

Which teams have the best record in the tournament?

Lyon is the most successful team in the history of women’s UCL with six titles (2011, 2012, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019). Frankfurt is second-best to Lyon with four trophies in 2002, 2006, 2008, 2015. Turbine Potsdam, Wolfburg (both from Germany) and Umea (Sweden) have won twice each, whereas Arsenal and Duisburg have one title to their name.

What are the draws for this year?

The draw for the round of 16 is as follows:

  • BIIK-Kazygurt (Kazakhstan) vs Bayern Munich (Germany)
  • Brondby (Denmark) vs Glasgow City (Scotland)
  • Wolfsburg (Germany) vs Twente (Netherlands)
  • Slavia Praha (Czech Republic) vs Arsenal (England)
  • Fortuna (Denmark) vs Lyon (Paris)
  • Manchester City (England) vs Atletico Madrid (Spain)
  • Breidablik (Iceland) vs PSG (Paris)
  • Barcelona (Spain) vs Minsk (Belarus)

 

The first leg will be played on October 16 and 17, while the second leg is scheduled from October 30 to November 1.

How did the 16 teams progress to this stage?

Atletico advanced with a 4-3 aggregate against Serbian side Spartak Subotica, while Arsenal enjoyed a convincing 6-0 aggregate against Fiorentina wherein Dutch star Vivianne Miedema struck thrice in the two outings.

PSG eased its way through to the round of 32, scoring seven past Portuguese club Braga, with Marie-Antoinette Katoto registering a hat-trick in the first leg as Paris progressed with a 7-0 aggregate scoreline.

Top guns Wolfsburg and Lyon clinched huge results, qualifying with a 15-0 and 16-0 aggregate against Mitrovica of Kosova and Ryazan VDV of Russia. Ada Hegerberg's first-leg hat-trick and double in the return took her to 49 European goals, overtaking Conny Pohlers and Marta, and behind only Anja Mittag (51).

Manchester City too advanced with a huge margin, sealing an 11-0 aggregate, whereas Barcelona knocked out Juventus, progressing on a 4-1 average result. Bayern Munich, which is currently third in Bundesliga, was the only side that progressed on away goals, having tied the scoreline 2-2.

Minsk became the first Belarusian side to win a round of 32 tie, as it got the better of Zurich.

Here are the other results: Brondby won 2-1 on aggregate vs. Pitea; Breidablik won 4-2 on aggregate vs Sparta Praha; Glasgow City won 5-1 on aggregate vs Chertanovo; BIIK Kazygurt won 3-1 on aggregate vs Anderlecht; Fortuna won 3-0 on aggregate vs Vllaznia; Twente won 5-4 on aggregate vs St. Polten; Slavia Praha won 9-2 on aggregate vs Hibernian.

Who are the players to watch out for?

Ada Hegerberg (Lyon), Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal), Pernille Harder (Wolfsburg), Ludmila da Silva (Atletico Madrid) and Marie-Antoinette Katoto (PSG) are some of the players to watch out for.

Hegerberg struck five goals in Lyon’s 16 goals in the last round, whereas Miedema inspired Arsenal to a winning return to the Champions League. While the former was absent from the World Cup this year, Miedema played a pivotal role in Netherlands’ campaign, wherein it finished as the finalist.

Harder, Ludmila, and Katoto were all on the scoresheet for their sides in the round of 32 and the onus will be on them to find the net again.

When is the final?

The 2019-20 final of women’s UCL will be held on May 24, 2020 in Viola Park in Vienna, Austria. For the first time, video assistant referee (VAR) will be used in the final.

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