Women’s Champions League: the best goal, player, match and memory

Goal of the tournament

Marie-Antoinette Katoto has finished as the top scorer in the DF1 [Division 1 Feminine] for the last two seasons and the 21-year-old PSG striker demonstrated why with a wonderful strike against Arsenal in the quarter-finals. Drifting from the penalty spot towards the near post as PSG took a corner and peeling away from Leah Williamson, Katoto met the flight of the ball perfectly, swivelling her hips and stroking a first-time volley into the bottom corner.

Player of the tournament

Lyon winger Delphine Cascarino proved to be a thorn in the side of Bayern Munich and PSG in the quarter and semi-finals but it was her virtuoso performance in the final against Wolfsburg that truly caught the eye. She set up Lyon’s first goal and had a big hand in the second with her raids down the right flank where her combinations with Lucy Bronze gave more than one left-back a punishing evening in Spain.

Young player of the tournament

Wolfsburg’s Norwegian midfielder Ingrid Engen demonstrated a tenacity and a poise on the ball in the She Wolves midfield that belied her 22 years, allowing attacking talents such as Svenja Huth, Alexandra Popp and Pernille Harder to shine further forward.

Match of the tournament

The semi-final between Wolfsburg and Barcelona was, in retrospect, the battle to be the bridesmaids of European football. Wolfsburg have taken the silver podium of European football over the last eight years or so but Barça are an emerging threat, with talent such as Lieke Martens, Caroline Graham Hansen and Jeni Hermoso. In a tense semi-final Barcelona rued a host of fluffed chances as Wolfsburg edged through 1-0 .

Coach of the tournament

With Lyon’s ensemble of global stars, many observers quip that pinning the teamsheet on the dressing room wall is the most pressing job requirement of a Lyon coach. Jean-Luc Vasseur is Lyon’s third coach in five seasons at a club where it is simple to win trophies but difficult to win acclaim. Vasseur deserves credit for steering Lyon to their fifth consecutive Champions League title. They have the depth to cover injuries to Ada Hergeberg, Amandine Henry and Mbock Bathy but their approach against Wolfsburg was excellent. Lyon targeted Wolfsburg’s full-backs, especially the makeshift left-back Sara Doorsoun-Khajeh. Lyon picked on one of Wolfsburg’s few weak spots and exploited it mercilessly.

Biggest surprise

During spells as a winger at Liverpool and Arsenal, Asisat Oshoala was considered one of the game’s most unpredictable players, equally capable of world-beating brilliance and a basic loss of motor skills from moment to moment. At Barcelona, she has reinvented herself as a centre-forward and chiselled away a lot of the rough edges that previously made her something of a meme. On this occasion, however, she was unable to exert her usual influence through the centre against Atlético Madrid and Wolfsburg, cutting an uncharacteristically peripheral figure in both games.

Biggest disappointment

Arsenal looked physically undercooked in their quarter-final exit against PSG, who had played two competitive games at the beginning of August with the conclusion of the Coup de France. The Gunners hadn’t played a competitive fixture since February and it showed against a powerful PSG side.

Best memory

Glasgow City arrived in Spain on a hiding to nothing. A part-time outfit able to participate only thanks to a private donation from a local philanthropist, they were never going to be a match for the might of Wolfsburg. So it proved as they were thrashed 9-1 by the German giants. However, Glasgow left their mark on the mini-tournament with arguably its best goal, as Lauren Wade swept a first-time shot into the top corner from an acute angle. Wade signed for Glasgow City shortly before the pandemic broke out and was forced to isolate at home in Northern Ireland a week after joining the club.


#UWCL
(@UWCL)

@GlasgowCityFC bowed out of the #UWCL– but @LaurenW17 left a calling card⚡⚡⚡ pic.twitter.com/1oC70ToocG

August 23, 2020

What now for the women’s Champions League?

A new format will be introduced from 2021-22, including a 16-team group stage with centralised marketing and TV coverage. In England, France, Germany and Spain the top three in the league will now qualify for the 2021-22 competition, not just the top two. All of the WSL’s big three are likely to play in the competition from 2021 with other big Spanish, French and German clubs which ought to increase the competitiveness of the tournament and throw up some different winners. The chasing pack are closing the gap to Lyon but not enough to stop them from winning the title for a fifth consecutive season. Uefa knows that greater variety is key to marketing the competition successfully and those with ambitions to challenge Lyon will have to work harder and, probably, invest more – which is no bad thing for the elite women’s game.

The Guardian

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