Women’s Champions League : PSG in the Semi-Finals
PSG have sealed their spot in the semi-finals of the WCL with a comfortable 7-0 aggregate win over Glasgow City. Having never previously been past the last 16, the capital club is building up a head of steam in European competition as well as domestically. Although Lyon have now sewn up a ninth straight Division 1 title, PSG put a real challenge together, and will relish their chances of breaking through on the continental stage as well.
In the first leg, PSG gave a start to Anissa Lahmari who normally plays in their youth team, and she repaid Farid Benstiti’s faith in her with the opening goal inside 20 minutes after a break up the left. Glasgow defended resolutely, Lee Alexander doing good work in goal, and they weathered the storm up to half-time. However, Kheira Hamraoui scored the second with a fine strike shortly after the restart, and Glasgow never looked like threatening to get one back, with only one shot recorded.
The second leg at the Parc des Princes was even more emphatic. The only goal of the first half was an own goal from Suzanne Lappin, but PSG motored through the second half with a brace for Marie-Laure Delie, and penalties from Sabrina Delannoy (who also notched two assists) and Kenza Dali as Glasgow’s defending became ever-more desperate.
In the semi-final, PSG will play VFL Wolfsburg, who had a slightly nervy time against Rosengard, drawing both legs but going through on away goals. In the first leg, Verena Faisst equalised after Marta had scored the opener, in what was a sterling performance by 18-year-old Zecira Musovic in the Rosengard goal, making ten saves. Wolfsburg also had to see out the last 20 minutes down to ten, after Caroline Hansen was sent off.
In the second leg, Alexandra Popp opened the scoring for Wolfsburg before goals from Marta and Anja Mittag put Rosengard in front. Babett Peter equalised, and Popp scored her second to put the visitors back ahead, and the away goals rule that meant Sara Bjork Gunnarsdóttir’s injury-time equaliser was only a consolation.
The other semi-final pits Frankfurt against Brondby. Frankfurt rolled over Bristol Academy 5-0 and 7-0 with goals from nine different players, including a hat-trick in the second leg for Mandy Islacker (she had also scored in the first), and a massive 37 shots on target from 67 total attempts. Brondby, who have never reached this stage in the competition before, beat Linkoping 2-1 on aggregate.
Both Wolfsburg and Frankfurt are previous champions, VFL winning the two most recent editions, while Frankfurt won three times in the 2000s and more recently reached the final in 2011/12, losing to Lyon. With the final to be played in Berlin in May, PSG will need to be at the top of their game to stop this being an all-German affair.
Of the two teams, Frankfurt are stronger in attack where they can field Islacker and Celia Sasic (née Okoyino da Mbabi) with Dzsenifer Maroszan among the threats who can crash forward from midfield. Meanwhile, VFL have some very experienced defenders: as well as Peter, they have Nilla Fischer and Stephanie Bunte – although the Rosengard matches showed that they can still be got at. This difference is borne out by their positions in the Frauen-Bundesliga, where Bayern Munich are top but have played a game more; VFL are 2 points behind in second with 48 scored and only 3 conceded (all from Turbine Potsdam, in fourth, who are also two-time WCL winners), and Frankfurt 2 points behind them in third, with 63 scored but 15 conceded.
Katarzyna Kiedrzynek and the rest of the PSG defence will doubtless need to be on top form to withstand the threat from Popp and her team-mates; they showed they could do that against top opposition against Lyon in the round of 16, but Wolfsburg may be more clinical (21 on target from 30 attempts in the quarter-finals). PSG will also need to take their chances, as it took players of the calibre of Marta and Mittag to break down their opponent’s defence in the last round. It seems unlikely that these matches will feature any ‘silly-nil’ scorelines (unlike the other semi, where you fear for Brondby a bit), and they could well be tight low-scoring affairs. The first leg will be in Germany, which may suit Benstiti’s anticipated approach, to keep it tight in the away leg and look for a goal on the break; then – if that works – they will know exactly what needs doing when they can open up a bit back in the capital.
The semi-finals will be played on the weekends of 18/19 and 25/26 April, the final on Thursday 14 May.