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UEFA Women's Champions League group stage preview: Chelsea vs Wolfsburg

Chelsea, last season’s runners-up in this competition, aim to bounce back from their 4-0 defeat against Barcelona in the May showpiece against familiar rivals.

Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby celebrate a Chelsea goal
Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby celebrate a Chelsea goal Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Chelsea, last season’s runners-up in this competition, aim to bounce back from their 4-0 defeat against Barcelona in the May showpiece against familiar opponents.

The Blues got the better of their opening Group A opponents Wolfsburg 5-1 on aggregate in the last eight of the 2020/21 edition, having previously been knocked out of the competition by Die Wölfinnen on three previous occasions.

The Londoners’ second successive Women’s Super League title last term – and third in four campaigns –ensured a place in the inaugural group stage. This was because England – the fourth-highest ranked association – were granted direct entry due to Barcelona being the UEFA Women’s Champions League title-holders in addition to lifting the 2020/21 Primera División.

Only two sides have lifted the UEFA Women’s Champions League trophy more often than Wolfsburg’s two successes, when they scooped back-to-back titles in 2012/13 and 2013/14.

The German outfit have been thwarted in the final on three occasions since that 2013/14 victory, finishing as runners-up to Lyon in 2016, 2018 and 2020.

Bayern München ended Wolfsburg’s four-year grip on the Frauen-Bundesliga in 2020/21, ending two points clear of the She-Wolves at the top.

Tommy Stroot’s squad edged out Bordeaux in Round 2 of qualifying, winning 3-0 on penalties with Almuth Schult saving two kicks. The two clubs required the drama of a shoot-out after a 5-5 aggregate draw, where both teams won 3-2 in their respective home legs.

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Ones to watch - Chelsea

Pernille Harder

The 28-year-old is set to face her former side once again, having joined the Blues from Wolfsburg in September 2020. She spent four campaigns with the German outfit, securing the league and cup double in every season with the club.

The Danish international came back to haunt her former employers back in March as she netted home and away against her old club in Chelsea’s 5-1 aggregate quarter-final success over Die Wölfinnen.

The forward is a three-time beaten finalist in the UEFA Women’s Champions League, having been a runner-up with Wolfsburg in 2018 and 2020 and in last season’s showpiece with the Londoners.

Despite being eliminated at the quarter-final stage of this competition in 2018/19, she still ended the tournament as top markswoman, finishing with eight strikes.

Sam Kerr

The 28-year-old was another scourge of the She-Wolves in this competition last term, netting in both legs against the Frauen-Bundesliga in March 2021.

The striker topped the scoring charts in the Women’s Super League last season, having also been a golden boot winner in Australia’s W-League and in the NWSL in the United States.

The forward, who joined the Blues midway through the 2019/20 season, has helped her side scoop the Women’s Super League and League Cup in each of the last two campaigns, including a hat-trick in last season’s showpiece against Bristol City.

The Australian international won her 100th cap for the Matildas in the 3-2 friendly defeat against the Republic of Ireland last month.

Fran Kirby

No player netted more goals in the 2020/21 UEFA Women’s Champions League than the 28-year-old, who was level in the scoring charts with Barcelona’s Jenni Hermoso (six).

The forward became the Blues’ all-time top markswoman in December 2020, with her two strikes in the 5-0 success against Benfica in this competition.

The English international missed much of the 2019/20 campaign through illness, but returned to form last term, grabbing 25 goals across all competitions to finish just behind Kerr in the reckoning as the club’s top scorer.

The striker is in her eighth campaign with the London side after joining from hometown club Reading in 2015.

Ones to watch - Wolfsburg

New Women’s Champions League format explained

Svenja Huth

The 30-year-old, a winner of this competition with FFC Frankfurt in 2014/15, is in her third season with the She-Wolves after joining from Potsdam in the summer of 2019.

The midfielder made her Frauen-Bundesliga in the 2007/08 after coming through the ranks at Frankfurt, who went on to lift the league title that season.

The attack-minded player’s only UEFA Women’s Champions League goal to date came in the 1-0 round of 32, first leg away win against Mitrovica in September 2019.

The Germany international has scooped honours for her country at both Under-17 and Under-20 levels, and was also part of the nation’s squad for their 2013 UEFA Women’s Championship success.

Ewa Pajor

The 24-year-old scored three of her side’s five goals in the Round 2 qualifying aggregate draw against Bordeaux, also converting her spot-kick in the 3-0 shoot-out victory.

The forward is in her seventh campaign with Die Wölfinnen, having joined from Polish Ekstraliga outfit Medyk Konin, where she became the youngest player ever to appear in the Polish top-flight aged just 15 in 2012.

The striker has won four Frauen-Bundesliga titles with the club, finishing as the division’s top scorer with 25 goals in 2018/19.

The Polish international tasted continental glory with her country at youth level in 2013, as they won the European Women's Under-17 Championship in Switzerland.

Tabea Waßmuth

The 25-year-old opened her Wolfsburg account at the sixth time of asking in the 2-2 draw at Freiburg on 2 October.

The forward, who came through the youth ranks at Hoffenheim, joined Die Wölfinnen ahead of this campaign, with the deal announced in January of this year.

The Germany international, who made her bow for her country at senior level in September last year, completed a master’s degree in psychology before completing her move to her current club.

Key stats

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

• Chelsea defeated Wolfsburg 5-1 on aggregate in the quarter-finals of the 2020-21 UEFA Women’s Champions League

• Chelsea have won six and drawn one of their last seven home UEFA Women’s Champions League matches

• Chelsea have conceded a total of just two goals in their last seven home UEFA Women’s Champions League matches

• Chelsea have only failed to score in one of their previous 14 home UEFA Women’s Champions League matches

• Sam Kerr and Pernille Harder both scored for Chelsea in their two matches against Wolfsburg in the 2020-21 UEFA Women’s Champions League

• Wolfsburg defeated Chelsea in all of their previous UEFA Champions League encounters which were played in England. Those are actually the only UWCL matches that Chelsea have lost in England

• Wolfsburg have remarkably featured in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Women’s Champions League in each of the last nine seasons

• Wolfsburg famously won back-to-back UEFA Women’s Champions League titles in 2013 and 2014, they have also reached the final on a further three occasions

Group stage: all you need to know