Barcelona return to a sold-out Camp Nou on Friday night to welcome Wolfsburg for the first leg of their semi-final.
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Barcelona made history with the 91,553 crowd that watched them seal a UEFA Women's Champions League semi-final spot against Real Madrid last month and on Friday at 18:45 CET the holders kick off the last four with another sold-out Camp Nou occasion against Wolfsburg.
Wolfsburg have won all three past meetings with Barcelona, 3-0 and 2-0 in the 2013/14 quarter-finals and 1-0 in a one-off last-four tie in 2020 in San Sebastián. Barcelona, outsiders two seasons ago against the twice champions, pushed Wolfsburg all the way but much has changed in the 16 months since.
The Blaugrana, supreme ever since claiming their first European title last May, have won all eight matches in their trophy defence by at least two goals and indeed now boast the player that got Wolfsburg's 2020 semi-final winner against them, Fridolina Rolfö, as well as another former favourite at the German side, Caroline Graham Hansen. In fact, victory would make it 40 wins out of 40 for Barcelona in competitive games this season, and extend their current streak including last season to 45. Claudia Pina, Asisat Oshoala and Mariona Caldentey are all back in training after injury though Lieke Martens is out for another four weeks.
However, Wolfsburg – who had a distinctly mixed 2021, not least due to a lengthy injury list – are now in vintage form, especially with Ewa Pajor fit again and back in the goals. They have proved that with two wins against Bayern München in their last two fixtures, 6-0 on 3 April to go four points clear in the Bundesliga with three games left, and 3-1 away on Sunday to reach an eighth straight German Cup final, though Lena Oberdorf went off injured and is ruled out of this tie.
There is also a small sub-plot with the two leading contenders in the Top Scorer race going head to head: Wolfsburg's Tabea Wassmuth is on nine goals, one ahead of Barcelona's Alexia Putellas.
Possible starting line-ups
Barcelona: Paños; Marta Torrejón, Paredes, Mapi León, Rolfö; Bonmatí, Guijarro, Alexia; Graham Hansen, Hermoso, Pina
Wolfsburg: Schult; Wilms, Hendrich, Janssen, Rauch; Popp, Lattwein; Huth, Roord, Jónsdóttir; Wassmuth
No away goals rule
The away goals rule no longer exists in UEFA club competition. If the tie is level after 90 minutes of the second legs, it will go to extra time and, if necessary, penalties.
View from the camps
Jonatan Giráldez, Barcelona coach: "Wolfsburg are a team that we have never beaten and that effects the mentality but we have to focus on the game to have a chance. This ability to react and take revenge will help us put ourselves to the test ... One of the keys will be to control one of their main virtues, which is that they are a team that likes to attack at pace, they have good players to get on the end long balls and get behind our defensive line"
"We invite people to come back to experience a similar situation [to the quarter-final at Camp Nou] because of the help they gave us and how much they pushed us to win that game."
Tommy Stroot, Wolfsburg coach: "I don't find it difficult to maintain normalcy here. It's going to be a typical Champions League night. I see us relaxed and full of anticipation.
Barça will focus on their own game. Therein lies our task. We know what we're capable of defensively, the details of which we're always adjusting. Basically, we want to show our true face, what has distinguished us in the recent big games."
Caroline Graham Hansen, Barcelona winger: "When we are in pre-season we do hard and boring training sessions without much enjoyment, for days like tomorrow, with the Camp Nou full of 90,000 fans cheering.
"Everyone thinks that the game will be even, we only know how we want to play, we will see after the game if it has been or not. We have respect, but also a lot of confidence in the way we play."
Alex Popp, Wolfsburg captain: "The anticipation is huge! I feel like we haven’t been speaking about anything else for the past three weeks. Especially because we already knew that Camp Nou was sold out. It really is a moment for us players that we might never get to experience again ... We want to win the game. That is obvious. We’re not just going there for the sake of it. We are going there with ambitions to win the game. How it will end up turning out, we’ll find out."
Where to watch
Every game in this season's new-look UEFA Women's Champions League from the group stage onwards is broadcast live in most territories on streaming platform DAZN, together with YouTube. The YouTube stream will also be embedded in the UEFA.com MatchCentre and on UEFA.tv for all UEFA Women's Champions League games, with highlights to follow at midnight CET.