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Hopefuls put Champions League plans in place

The new season is close and we hear from two Chelsea stars while rounding up transfer news from the likes of Liverpool, Bayern München, Atlético Madrid and Barcelona.

Chelsea signing Fran Kirby is introduced at half-time of their win against Bristol
Chelsea signing Fran Kirby is introduced at half-time of their win against Bristol ©The FA via Getty Images

The UEFA Women's Champions League contenders are regrouping after the return of star players from the FIFA Women's World Cup and UEFA.com looks at the latest moves made by some of the teams entering straight into the round of 32.

Twenty-two sides are given byes to the knockout phase; the other ten clubs will be decided by the qualifying round from 11 to 16 August.

Interest in the FA Women's Super League has been boosted by England's third-placed World Cup finish and one of that squad, forward Fran Kirby, has sealed a move from second-division Reading to league leaders Chelsea. Kirby, who turned 22 last month, was described by England manager Mark Sampson – who has capped the striker nine times despite her never having played a top-flight game – as a "mini-Messi" after her goal in the 2-1 defeat of Mexico.

Emma Hayes, whose side make their European debut this term, chose not to give Kirby a debut in Sunday's 4-1 defeat of 2014/15 UEFA Women's Champions League quarter-finalists Bristol Academy, a result which left Chelsea five points clear at the halfway point of the FA WSL season, with a Wembley date to come on 1 August against Notts County in the FA Women's Cup final. After the Bristol match UEFA.com spoke to Chelsea goalscorer Gemma Davison and their Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl: click on the media players below to listen.



Reigning English champions Liverpool also returned to action on Sunday by inflicting Arsenal's first defeat of the campaign, 3-1 at Borehamwood, to move up to fifth, three points off second place. Coming off the bench at half-time was Liverpool's new recruit Rosie White, the New Zealand attacker fresh from her second World Cup and four years at the University of California, Los Angeles. There was further good news last week after goalkeeper Danielle Gibbons's surgery to remove a benign brain tumour was a success; she hopes to be available for the European challenge.

Therese Sjögran (left) has retired
Therese Sjögran (left) has retired©Getty Images

As in England, it has been straight back to domestic action for Swedish clubs and Damallsvenskan leaders Rosengård resumed on Sunday with a 4-1 thrashing of Umeå to reach the Swedish Cup final. The first goal for Rosengård was a penalty by Therese Sjögran, playing the last game of a stellar career in which she was capped 214 times by Sweden. She now becomes the club's sporting director.

Taking over from Sjögran and Paris Saint-Germain-bound striker Anja Mittag is FYR Macedonia attacking midfielder Nataša Andonova, arriving from Turbine Potsdam. Meanwhile Sweden's other European representatives KIF Örebro lost their cup semi 3-0 at holders Linköping, who will host Rosengård in the final on 9 August.

VfL Wolfsburg
Following their previous acquisition of Élise Bussaglia, Lara Dickenmann, Synne Jensen and Tessa Wullaert, last season's deposed German and European champions have continued to recruit. Poland ace Ewa Pajor, 18, comes in from Medyk Konin, for whom she scored eight goals in Europe last season, not to mention five in World Cup qualifying.

Bayern have signed Nicole Rolser from Liverpool
Bayern have signed Nicole Rolser from Liverpool©The FA via Getty Images

Bayern München
German champions Bayern have continued to make eye-catching additions. Following hot on the heels of Verónica Boquete, Sara Däbritz and Lisa Evans, comes Liverpool winger Nicole Rosler, a former German youth international who returned from long-term injury last year to help the Reds to a second straight FA WSL crown.

1. FFC Frankfurt
Since winning the UEFA Women's Champions League for a fourth European title in May, Frankfurt have said goodbye to Boquete, Svenja Huth and Bianca Schmidt. Yet having already landed Chelsea's Jackie Groenen, Freiburg's Jenista Clark and Bayer Leverkusen duo Isabelle Linden and Theresa Panfil, Frankfurt made another addition during the World Cup, in Australia midfielder Emily van Egmond from Newcastle Jets. She had a previous stint in Europe with Fortuna Hjørring.

Fortuna Hjørring
Having conceded their Danish title back to Brøndby last term, Fortuna have shown intent by bringing in versatile Brazil defender Tamires, who started all four of their World Cup fixtures in Canada. With an eye to the future, Fortuna have also snapped up teenage Danish talents Sarah Dyrhauge, Laura Frank and Ditte Høgsted.

Sonia has left Barcelona for Atlético
Sonia has left Barcelona for Atlético©Pavel Jiřík

Atlético Madrid
Making their European debut thanks to Spain's additional second slot, Atlético have signalled their ambition by signing experienced attacker Sonia Bermúdez from champions Barcelona. "The Champions League is a special competition," she said. "From the moment you qualify, the draw when you find out your opponent, the build-up to the first game and when the anthem sounds, you realise it is the dream every player would like to achieve. In short, everything about this competition is incredible."

FC Barcelona
Sonia, Virginia Torrecilla, Marta Corredera, Chelsea Ashurst and Willy may have left but Barcelona have signed Irene del Río, Sandra Paños, Olga García, Patricia Guijarro, Bárbara Latorre, Andreia Norton and Ane Bergara for their newly full-time squad.

Glasgow City
Top of the Scottish league again at the summer break (though only on goal difference from Hibernian), 2014/15 quarter-finalists City have endured a big change after boss Eddie Wolecki Black stepped down to take over at Edusport Academy, a Scottish-based residential academy for young French footballers who also play men's non-league. Wolecki Black led Glasgow to the championship in all eight seasons in charge and City, who resume their season on 28 July, have received huge interest after advertising for a replacement.