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UEFA Women's Champions League group stage preview: Benfica vs Bayern

The first Portuguese side to reach the last 16 of this competition in any format begin their Group D quest against last season’s semi-finalists.

Benfica celebrate a goal in qualifying
Benfica celebrate a goal in qualifying Getty Images

Benfica, the first Portuguese side to reach the last 16 of this competition in any format, begin their Group D quest against last season’s semi-finalists.

The Lisbon outfit, who scooped their maiden Campeonato Nacional Feminino title last term, despatched Israeli title holders Qiryat-Gat and Luxembourg champions Racing FC 4-0 and 7-0 respectively in Round 1 of qualifying, before getting the better of last season’s Eredivisie winners FC Twente 5-1 on aggregate (1-1 a, 4-0 h).

Benfica’s run in the competition last season – their first-ever campaign in the tournament – was ended in the round of 32 by eventual finalists Chelsea, with the Londoners easing through by an 8-0 scoreline over two legs (0-5 h, 0-3 a).

The Blues were also the conquerors of Bayern at the semi-final stage of the UEFA Women’s Champions League last season, as Emma Hayes’ charges overturned a 2-1 first-leg success for the German club to win 5-3 across both matches.

Jens Scheuer guided the Munich side to a fourth Frauen-Bundesliga crown in 2020/21, halting Wolfsburg’s four-year reign on the German top-flight title.

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Ones to watch - Benfica

New Women’s Champions League format explained

Cloé Lacasse

The 28-year-old’s impressive hat-trick against Dutch champions Twente ensured the Eagles would be the first Portuguese representatives to make the last 16 of this competition for the first time in any guise.

The Canadian-born striker is in her third campaign with the club, having previous plied her trade in Iceland with ÍBV, with whom she won the 2017 Icelandic Cup, netting the opener in the 3-2 extra-time showpiece victory against Stjarnan.

The forward’s 16 strikes last term were integral to Benfica’s maiden Campeonato Nacional Feminino trophy, a tally that included a four-goal haul in the 7-0 besting of Torreense on 17 January.

In 2019 she was granted Icelandic citizenship after spending four years plying her footballing trade in the country.

Francisca Nazareth

The 18-year-old found the net on three occasions in this season’s qualifying campaign, including twice in the 7-0 Round 1 final success against Racing on 21 August.

The forward scored 11 goals in the second phase of last season’s Campeonato Nacional Feminino, including a quick-fire treble after coming off the bench in the 7-0 victory over Condeixa on 16 May.

The Lisbon-born striker, known as “Kika”, made her debut at the age of 16, signed her first professional contract with the club in October 2020.

The Portuguese international, who played under current Benfica coach Filipa Patão in the club’s youth set-up, was first capped by her country early in 2020.

Sílvia Rebelo

The defender was appointed the club’s first-ever captain after signing from Braga in the summer of 2018.

The 32-year-old led the side to promotion in their historic 2018/19 campaign, also scooping the Taça de Portugal in the process that term. Taça da Liga success followed a year later, along with the maiden top-flight title as part of a domestic double with the league cup last season.

The skipper began her burgeoning career with Fundação Laura Santos, combining her football with working in the laundry for the Moimenta da Serra-based outfit.

The Portuguese international, who made her bow for the senior side back in 2008 and represented the Selecção at UEFA Women’s Euro 2017, won her 100th cap for her country in October of last year.

Ones to watch - Bayern

Saki Kumagai

The 30-year-old joined the Bavarian outfit in May, following eight campaigns with serial winners Lyon where she clinched the league title in her first seven seasons with the club.

The midfielder, who can also slot into defence, is a five-time winner of the UEFA Women’s Champions League as part of the Lyon side who dominated this competition from 2016 until 2020, converting her spot-kicks in the penalty drama of the 2016 & 2017 finals.

The Japanese international, who captains her country, also netted the decisive kick in the shoot-out success against the United States in the 2011 World Cup showpiece, having played every minute for her nation in the tournament that year.

She began her playing days with Saitama-based outfit Urawa Reds in her homeland, before starting her European career with German side FFC Frankfurt in 2011, and was part of their team that finished as runners-up to future employers Lyon in the 2012 UEFA Women’s Champions League.

Sydney Lohmann

The 21-year-old notched an impressive ten Frauen-Bundesliga goals as Bayern broke Wolfsburg’s dominance of the German top-flight in 2020/21, with only Lea Schüller (16) registering more for the club.

The midfielder was Bayern’s top scorer in this competition last term, netting four in her six appearances.

She came through the ranks at Bayern, joining their youth system from SC Fürstenfeldbruck, and made her senior debut for the Bavarians in March 2017.

The German international, capped 50 times at all levels by her country, was part of the squad that won successive UEFA Women's Under-17 Championships, overcoming Spain in both 2016 and 2017.

Lea Schüller

The 23-year-old moved to Bayern ahead of their Frauen-Bundesliga success of 2020/21 following seven years with first club SGS Essen.

The forward was the Bavarians’ leading scorer in the top-flight last term, notching 16 strikes, including a treble in the 7-0 defeat of Werder Bremen in February.

The striker made her league bow for Essen way back in December 2013, just weeks after her 16th birthday.

The Germany international has netted nineteen times at senior level for her country, including one at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup en route to their quarter-final exit at the hands of Sweden.

Key stats

Top five goals of the 2020/21 UEFA Women's Champions League

• Benfica have lost only two of their previous eight UEFA Women’s Champions League matches (W5 D1 L2)

• Benfica have won three and drawn one of their previous four UEFA Women’s Champions League matches this season F16 A1

• Benfica have scored four or more goals in three of their previous four UEFA Women’s Champions League matches this season

• Bayern have won nine of their last 11 UEFA Women’s Champions League matches (W9 L2)

• Bayern have not drawn any of their last 16 UEFA Women’s Champions League matches. Their last draw in the competition was a 1-1 draw vs Slavia Praha in March 2019

• Bayern have not failed to score in their last 11 UEFA Women’s Champions League matches

Group stage: all you need to know