Barcelona's 16-game winning streak snapped! Women's Champions League winners & losers as Bayern get revenge
- Winners & Losers
- UEFA Women's Champions League
- Olympique Lyonnais
- Olympique Lyonnais vs Zürich
- Bayern München vs Barcelona
- Bayern München
- Arsenal vs Juventus
- Wolfsburg vs Roma
- Real Madrid vs Chelsea
- Real Madrid
- V. Miedema
- E. Pajor
- Women's football
A win over Roma meant former champions Wolfsburg became the first team to secure their place in the Women's Champions League quarter-finals this week – and the race to join them in the last eight certainly heated up across matchday four.
The two groups of death continue to live up to the billing, with it likely we'll have winner-takes-all games between Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid, and Juventus and reigning champions Lyon later this month.
With Bayern Munich also gaining emphatic revenge on Barcelona, beating them 3-1 after a 3-0 reverse at Camp Nou last month, this round of fixtures had plenty of fireworks.
So, who caught the eye this week and who stumbled? GOAL runs the rule over the latest set of games...
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WINNER: Alexander Straus
After Barcelona dismantled Bayern Munich's strong defence at Camp Nou two weeks ago, some wrote off the German side at the Allianz on Wednesday.
But huge credit has to go to head coach Alexander Straus for how he learned from that defeat and prepared his players for the rematch – as well as those on the pitch for executing his plan to a tee.
Within 10 minutes, Bayern were 2-0 up against a team that had only conceded five goals in their previous 14 outings. After a high energy start from the hosts, Barca did get a foothold in the game midway through the first half, but they couldn't break Bayern down and would fall further behind when Lea Schuller made it 3-0 on the hour.
Geyse would pull one back for the Catalans but it was a mere consolation. Bayern are the first team to beat Barca this season – the first team to beat them since Lyon in last season's UWCL final, in fact – and they were worthy winners.
There have been promising signs since Straus came in this past summer, but this was the biggest indicator yet that they are onto something good with a coach of high quality who complements a very talented squad and an ambitious football club.
In terms of Barcelona's bid to finish top of their UWCL group, defeat to Bayern on Wednesday wasn't catastrophic, as they still have the superior head-to-head record on goal difference, but that doesn't mean the result wasn't concerning.
What made it slightly more worrying was the difficult time Barca had at home to Real Sociedad just a few days earlier, in the league.
La Real harried Barca with high intensity, particularly in the first half, and went 1-0 up. Fortunately for the Catalans, they'd fight back to win 2-1 thanks to goals from Marta Torrejon and a late Lucy Bronze header. The equaliser wasn't without controversy, though, with Torrejon appearing to be offside.
Barca are one of the best teams in the world right now but there are clever coaches out there who are starting to figure out ways to trouble them.
Indeed, the tactics employed by both Sociedad and Bayern this past week will be have been noted across Spain and the continent as something of a blueprint on how to put Barca in trouble.
But we've said that before and Barca still went on long unbeaten runs. They will hope that is the case again and these last two games simply serve as a wake-up call. They know they can be much better and they will need to be.
WINNER: Vivianne Miedema
Earlier this season, Vivianne Miedema did something that not many players often do. She asked for a break.
The Dutch international contracted Covid-19 during the Euros and really struggled with it. Being in the middle of a major tournament, there wasn't much time to recover when she tested negative and then along came the new season, very soon after England triumphed in the final over Germany.
“I got through the beginning of the season almost on autopilot," she told reporters ahead of Wednesday's game with Juventus. "I missed the October national team period through illness again and since then I spoke with Jonas [Eidevall, Arsenal head coach] about getting some rest and managing my minutes.
“I just didn’t feel mentally and physically ready to play and you could see it in the way I was playing. I wasn’t enjoying my football in that moment and when you stop enjoying it and you don’t want to go into training in the morning, you need to take a break."
Since her return, Miedema looks back to her best. She scored the winner against Juve in midweek, after netting the only goal of the game at the weekend against Everton and the equaliser against the Italian side in Turin two weeks ago.
Vivianne Miedema absolutely outstanding tonight.— Ameé Ruszkai (@ameeruszkai) December 7, 2022
30/39 passes completed
14/20 in final third
7 times possession won
4 chances created (most on pitch)
2/3 tackles won
1 dribble completed
1 foul won
1 match-winning goal!
Looks like that break did her good, eh. #UWCL
"I hope that by me taking the time off, it will have done good for a couple of players," the forward said. "[I hope] they are feeling confident enough to actually ask for that break and don't feel ashamed for needing it."
She's certainly justifying hers right now and proving what good some time off can do.
LOSER: Joe Montemurro
Bittersweet – that's how Joe Montemurro, the Juventus head coach who spent four years in charge of Arsenal before his move to Italy, described the prospect of being in the away dugout at the Emirates on Wednesday.
The Gunners' women's team never played at the stadium in a competitive fixture while he was in charge, with him emphasising that "the timing wasn't right" back then.
This was his first experience doing so, then, and it was as the opposing coach. If that wasn't strange enough, the result made what he dubbed a "surreal" night even tougher to process.
Arsenal's 1-0 win, coupled with victory for reigning champions Lyon against Zurich the same night, saw Juve drop to third in this ultra-competitive group. They need to beat Zurich at home next week and then get a result against the French giants the week after if they want to reach the knockouts.
It's not impossible, but it's tough.
A boyhood Arsenal fan, coaching such a big game at the Emirates is a chance Montemurro will have craved for some time. It will go down as a special moment on a personal level, there's no doubt, but he certainly will have wished it could've been even better.
WINNER: Ewa Pajor
Is there a more in-form striker in world football than Ewa Pajor?
Top-scorer in the Women's Champions League, with six goals in four games, as well as in the Frauen-Bundesliga, netting eight times in eight outings, the Wolfsburg star is unstoppable right now.
Pajor has had her injury woes over the last couple of years, playing just six league games in the 2020-21 season and seven the year after.
But she is back fit and back to her best, netting twice in the 4-2 victory over Roma on Thursday evening that all-but seals top spot in Group B for Wolfsburg.
It feels like Pajor has never got the plaudits she deserves, whether it's to do with the lack of coverage of the Bundesliga or that she plays her international football for Poland and has, thus, never qualified for a major tournament.
She must get them now, though, surely, with this form only confirming what has been true for some time: Pajor is one of the deadliest strikers on the planet.
LOSER: Real Madrid
For a while on Thursday night, it looked like things were going to go exactly as Real Madrid wanted.
Some good pressing contributed to Chelsea goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger playing a pass right to Caroline Weir, with the midfielder not hesitating to punish such sloppiness and put her team ahead.
It would have been a crucial win for Las Blancas to put them above PSG in the race for the knockout stages.
However, after hitting the woodwork twice in the first half, Chelsea would get as fortuitous an equaliser as you are likely to see, with Guro Reiten’s penalty hitting the post and then the back of goalkeeper Misa on its way into the net.
The hosts rallied towards the end of the game and looked the more likely to win it but they couldn’t find the goal they needed, with Olga Carmona denied by Berger with their biggest chance.
Not losing was crucial and, as the old cliché goes, Madrid may well have been happy with a point had you offered it to them before kick off.
But, particularly with the incident that led to the penalty being very avoidable, one can't help but feel they will be frustrated they couldn’t get more out of a game that felt like it was there for the taking at times – especially when you throw in the bad luck that denied them three points.
A bit more creativity and this could have been a better result. It's something that's become a familiar theme for Alberto Toril's side in Europe.