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UEFA Women's Champions League 2017-18: Summary of the Season Ahead of the Final in Kyiv

UEFA Women's Champions League trophyWith 444 goals scored over 120 matches, the stage is set for the show piece final in Kyiv on Thursday, 59 teams down, just two remain.
Round of 32
There were a few surprises awaiting, when the knock-out stages of the illustrious competition got underway back in October, with Stjarnan, Fiorentina, Montpellier, BIIK Kazygurt, Gintra Universitetas, LSK and Chelsea all technically upsetting the odds as the unseeded teams to make it through the first knock-outs. It had taken three tries, but the Icelandic champions finally broke their Russian curse to see off Rossiyanka with a storming second leg, as Fiorentina held their nerve to overcome competition mainstays, Fortuna Hjørring.
A team that needed all 180 minutes, Montpellier overcame their wobbles in Zvezda to eliminate the second Russian team from the Champions League, while LSK saw off Danish champions, Brøndby. A grandstand comeback in Scotland wasn’t enough for Glasgow City with BIIK’s away goal making all the difference to see the SWPL champions fall at the first hurdle.
Elsewhere, Lithuanian side Gintra shocked Zürich, the Swiss team just about scraping the last seeded spot undone at home, the team they had kept out of the seeded berths, Chelsea, running their own gauntlet to overcome Bayern Munich.
The rest of the ties arguably went to schedule, Linköping, Brescia, Manchester City and Slavia Prague all getting the better of Apollon, Ajax, St. Pölten and Minsk, as Medyk Konin, PAOK, Cluj and Avaldsnes fell at the hands of Lyon, Sparta Prague, Rosengård and Barcelona. The damming result of the round, Wolfsburg’s aggregated 15-2 win over Spanish champions, Atlético Madrid.
Round of 16
The second round arguably saw more polarized fixtures, with all but three of the eight ties effectively put to bed after the first leg. Linköping’s score draw away against Sparta was quite a different affair from their 3-0 home win. So too, Montpellier’s breathless 3-2 win in Brescia was worlds away from a storming 6-0 in France, and Slavia’s 2-1 win in Iceland was enough to see them through after a scoreless 90 minutes in Czech Republic.
6-0 and 3-0 wins for Barcelona saw them dump Gintra out of the tournament, with Lyon’s 7-0 and 9-0 thrashings of Kazygurt more than enough to see the Kazakh side downed. A resounding 3-0 in Oslo put Manchester City in pole position against LSK and, although the Norwegians recovered well for the second leg, the damage had already been done. Making far lighter work of the Damallsvenskan runners-up than the Frauen-Bundesliga runners-up, Chelsea hit the ground running with a 3-0 win at home. before finishing the job in Malmö to see off Rosengård.
Wolfsburg was once again involved in one of the stranger ties. In complete control after a 4-0 win in Florence, the German champions took their eyes off of the ball at home, as Fiorentina came out fighting, a 3-3 draw in the second leg plenty of entertainment for the fans.
Following a five-month break, the Champions League returned in the spring with eight teams all chomping at the bit to make it to the semi-finals, the first legs again telling. Up against one of the true outsiders to progress, Wolfsburg made no mistakes against Slavia, hitting the Czech side for five at home, before easing off of the gas in the second leg: a 1-1 draw doing nothing to affect the outcome. Perennial favourites, Lyon were dealt their toughest test, as they squared off against a resolute Barcelona team, a narrow 2-1 victory in France proceeding an equally as narrow 1-0 win in Catalunya.
The last country with both entrants still standing, England could boast two semi-finalists after both Chelsea and Man City made it through their ties unscathed. A 2-0 home win over 10-man Linköping was just the aperitif before a 5-3 win in Sweden, leaving Manchester City fans not knowing if they were coming or going, as the Swedes did their best to find a late shocker. Relying on a resolute defence, Chelsea left France with a healthy two-goal advantage before turning on the style at home to see Montpellier off with a 5-1 aggregated scoreline.
In a repeat of last year’s semi-final, Manchester City were once again up against Lyon, the Citizens having tightened up their defence considerably since, managing to stifle the French champions. Their scoreless first-leg just the fourth match of the knock-outs not to see any goals this season, Lucy Bronze’s stunner in France was all to separate the two teams after 180 minutes.
In their first ever UWCL semi-final but up against the team who had knocked them out of both their previous Champions League campaigns, Chelsea knew they had their work cut out for them against Wolfsburg. It took the hosts just three minutes to break the deadlock in London, as they found the She Wolves snoozing, the visitors turning on the style to turn the match around and return home with a 3-1 advantage. Stuck in their own Groundhog Day, Chelsea once again fell to the German giants, a 2-0 win for the hosts in Lower Saxony enough to declare their dominance.
The two pre-tournament favourites Lyon and Wolfsburg managed to navigate the knock-outs without meeting to claim their rightful places in the final, the pair more than familiar with each other by now. Wolfsburg fans will fondly remember their first UWCL title, won in London against Chelsea in May of 2013, their second added the following season against Tyresö, a third UWCL final appearance for Wolfsburg a penalty shoot-out loss against Lyon in Italy two seasons ago.
Four-time champions, Lyon have the chance of declaring themselves the most decorated team in the tournament with a win, as they currently share that cherry with FFC Frankfurt – both had four final wins and final two losses. Having won three of their titles against German sides (Turbine Potsdam in 2011, the year after losing to the same opponents in their first outing in the final, Frankfurt in 2012 and Wolfsburg in 2016) there is no question Lyon will feel comfortable enough with the task at hand. The current champions (having picked up their fourth title last season against Paris Saint-Germain) will be looking for a third straight win to show their dominance in Europe.


Physical attributes


Technical attributes

ball control
free kicks
long throws
shooting accuracy
shooting power
slide tackle
stand tackle
aerial control
one on ones
off the area
penalty saving

Mental attributes

tactical awareness
work rate
positioning in the line
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