British teams join Europe’s best in Spain

­With the coronavirus pandemic spreading across the world, the 2019/20 UEFA Women’s Champions League came to a halt just a week before the quarterfinal stage was meant to begin.

That left UEFA with a dilemma – whether to bring the competition to an end immediately or to try and complete it at a later date. In June, they decided on the latter, announcing that the conclusion would be played out between 21-30 August in Spain – at the San Mamés Stadium in Bilbao and the Anoeta Stadium in San Sebastián. The quarterfinals (21-22 August) and semi-finals (25-26 August) have been reduced to a single leg and the Final is being played on Sunday 30th August.

This inevitably caused some problems for the clubs who, with domestic seasons being cut short, had let players leave before the decision and squads were looking threadbare. As a result, UEFA have allowed all competing clubs to register six new players for the tournament, all of whom could have played for another club in a previous round.

Two British sides remain and will be going toe-to-toe with the best in Europe over the next ten days. Here, we preview them ahead of the action:

Glasgow City

There’s rarely been a dull moment for Glasgow City since their debut in the Champions League knockout rounds in 2011.

The independent Glasgow-based club have reached the quarterfinals of the competition for the second time in their history. Their journey to get them here has taken them far and wide. A mere 3,180 mile round-trip to Moscow saw them overcome Chertanovo in the Round of 32 before edging through against Brøndby on penalties in the Round of 16.

With the Scottish Women’s Premier League suspended when UEFA announced the conclusion of the 2019/20 UWCL, there were plenty of logistical and financial issues for the club to overcome. However, the generous donation from philanthropist James Anderson has covered all travel and Covid-19 testing to enable the club to fulfil their game against Wolfsburg and beyond.

Manager Scott Booth has added to his ranks over the interim period. Janine van Wyk, the South African captain, brings with her a wealth of experience of playing in America and at last year’s World Cup. Zaneta Wyne, previously of Sunderland, has joined from Klepp whilst American Krystyna Freda has arrived on loan from Apollon.

Glasgow will know that they go into Friday’s game against Wolfsburg, twice UWCL winners, as the underdogs. But they will also know that in sport, anything can happen.

Tune in to follow their journey on BBC Alba from 17:00 on Friday 21st August. You can also donate the price of a ticket here.

Arsenal

It’s been almost six months since Joe Montemurro’s Arsenal last took to the field in a competitive game.

In that time, they have seen six players depart but have strengthened their ranks with four new signings – international full-backs Steph Catley and Noëlle Maritz, youngster Malin Gut and Australian goalkeeper, Lydia Williams. All can now play in the competition although Williams will be missing out due to an ankle injury.

One major benefit to the Gunners will be that some of their key players have returned to full fitness. Kim Little, Daniëlle van de Donk and Beth Mead were all carrying injuries back in March but have recovered and are included in the playing squad.

Their road to the quarterfinals has been smooth beating Fiorentina and Slavia Prague 6-0 and 13-2 respectively. PSG will pose a different kind of challenge with their array of international stars. The likes of Nadia Nadim, Ramona Bachmann, Sara Däbritz, Formiga and more are enough to cause any side problems.

Winning the tournament is Arsenal’s only chance of playing Champions League football next season, having missed out to Chelsea and Manchester City with the conclusion of last season. The FAWSL team will have to make sure they bring their A game on Saturday to get one step closer to that goal.

Tune in to follow their journey on BT Sport 1 from 19:00 on Saturday 22nd August.

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