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In focus: The semi-finalists of the Women’s Champions League

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 18 Apr 2024

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The semi-finals of the Women’s Champions League get under way this weekend, with Saturday seeing Chelsea play at Barcelona in their first leg and Lyon host Paris St Germain.

Here, the PA news agency takes a closer look at the four remaining sides bidding for a place in the May 25 final in Bilbao.

Chelsea

Emma Hayes’ Blues take on Barcelona again having been beaten by them 2-1 on aggregate in last season’s semis, and 4-0 in the 2021 final. That is the only time an English side has featured in the final apart from when Arsenal won it in 2007, with Hayes on the coaching staff. Chelsea are seeking a glorious conclusion to the 47-year-old’s trophy-laden tenure before she departs this summer to take charge of the United States – but have recently seen quadruple and then treble hopes ended by defeat to Arsenal in the League Cup final and Manchester United in the FA Cup last four. Their bid for a fifth successive Women’s Super League title sees them currently top via goal difference after Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Aston Villa.

Barcelona

Barca claimed their second Champions League crown with a dramatic 3-2 win over Wolfsburg in Eindhoven last term and have played in four of the last five finals. Closing in on another Liga F title that would also make it five in a row, their formidable squad, managed by Jonatan Giraldez, includes England duo Lucy Bronze and Keira Walsh and 2023 World Cup winners Alexia Putellas, the captain, and Aitana Bonmati, who have two and one Ballon d’Ors to their name respectively. The team’s domestic league record for this season shows 22 wins and one draw from 23 matches, with 102 goals scored along the way.

Lyon

The French outfit have been the major force over the course of this competition’s history, lifting the trophy a record eight times. Within that was five successive triumphs from 2016 to 2020 and another in 2022. They are back in the last four this season after a quarter-final exit last term at the hands of Chelsea. Boss Sonia Bompastor, the former Lyon player who has overseen the team winning the league title twice as well as the European success since taking charge in 2021, has been linked with the job of succeeding Hayes.

Paris St Germain

PSG – who defeated Manchester United in this season’s Champions League qualifying rounds – had their best runs in the competition to date when finishing as runners-up in 2015 and 2017, on the second occasion being beaten in a penalty shoot-out by Lyon in Cardiff. They lost to Lyon in the semis the year in between, and in two of three last-four appearances since – the other in 2021 came after overcoming them in the quarter-finals, and they also pipped them that year to claim a maiden French top-flight title. Jocelyn Precheur’s side are currently nine points behind leaders Lyon in second place in Division 1 Feminin with two games to go before the play-offs.

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