European football’s governing body UEFA have announced that the final stages of this season’s UEFA Women’s Champions League will take place over a 10-day tournament in Spain between 21 and 30 August.
The format will see the last eight teams in the competition travel to San Sebastian and Bilbao to play out one-off ties in the quarter-finals and semi-finals. The quarter-final fixtures to be played on 21 and 22 August are Atletico Madrid v Barcelona, Bayern Munich v Lyon, Glasgow City v VfL Wolfsburg, and Arsenal v Paris Saint-Germain. The winners of each tie will then progress to the semi-finals which will be contested on 25 and 26 August with the final getting underway on 30 August. Five substitutions will be permitted throughout the knockout tournament in-line with FIFA’s temporary rule change.
Following the premature completion of this season’s Barclays FA Women’s Super League, it was confirmed that Arsenal finished outside the UEFA Champions League qualifying places on a points per game basis. The news that the latter rounds of this season’s UEFA Women’s Champions League will be going ahead offers The Gunners a glimmer of hope as they will be awarded a route to next year’s tournament by winning the contest although, they will be facing some stiff challenges along the way if they are to do so.
All other teams remaining in the UEFA Women’s Champions League have also seen their leagues brought to a close, apart from Bayern Munich and VfL Wolfsburg. Consequently, they will be the only two sides in the last eight who have played any competitive football in the last few months. Whether this gives them an edge over the rest of the competition only time will tell, however, for Bayern Munich overcoming reigning champions Lyon is no mean feat regardless of the circumstances. As for VfL Wolfsburg, they will be big favourites to see off the only non-fully professional side left in the competition in Glasgow City and they may even fancy themselves to win the whole competition for the first time since 2014.
Although Arsenal have now been afforded a back door route into next season’s competition, the deck is still very much stacked against them.