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UEFA Women's Champions League group stage preview: Servette vs Juventus

Servette, who lifted the Swiss Women's Super League trophy for the first time in 2020/21, face off against another outfit also making their debut in the last 16 of the UEFA Women’s Champions League.

Servette celebrate a Jade Boho Sayo goal in qualifying
Servette celebrate a Jade Boho Sayo goal in qualifying SNS Group via Getty Images

Servette, who lifted the Swiss Women's Super League trophy for the first time in 2020/21, face off against another outfit also making their debut in the last 16 of the UEFA Women’s Champions League.

Les Grenat progressed to Round 2 in this season’s qualifying by way of 1-0 victories against Northern Ireland’s Glentoran and Finland’s Åland United, before another narrow success – this time on aggregate – against Glasgow City (1-1 h, 2-1 a).

The Geneva-based club only made their UEFA competition bow last season, when they were ultimately eliminated 9-2 over two legs in the round of 32 against Atlético Madrid.

Juventus, who scooped a fourth Serie A in a row last term, have the added incentive of the 2022 UEFA Women’s Champions League final being hosted at the home stadium of their men’s club.

The Italian side got the better of North Macedonian champions Kamenica Sasa (12-0) and Austrian ÖFB-Frauenliga holders St. Pölten (4-1) in Round 1, before a 3-0 aggregate win against Albanian champions Vllaznia, to be among the final 16 of this tournament for the first time, having been eliminated at the round of 32 stage in each of the previous three campaigns.

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Ones to watch - Servette

Jade Boho Sayo

The 35-year-old, who joined the Geneva-based side in the summer, penning a one-year deal after three years with Spanish outfit Logroño, hit the ground running for her new team by scoring in three of her four appearances in the qualifying campaign for this group stage.

The forward has spent the bulk of her career across two spells with Rayo Vallecano, with whom she experienced this competition over a decade ago.

The striker also had brief spells in England with both Reading and Chelsea, before returning to the Primera División with Madrid.

The Equatorial Guinea international, who qualifies for the nation via her mother, was capped by Spain at youth level and scored the opener as their Under-19s beat Germany in the showpiece match of the UEFA Women’s Championships in 2004. She tasted continental success for her adopted nation too, scoring three goals as the hosts won the African Women’s Championship nine years ago.

Alyssa Lagonia

The 32-year-old clinched her second Swiss league championship last season, having also been a team-mate of Sandy Maendly at Neunkirch as they won the double in 2016/17.

She joined Les Grenat in 2019 after two campaigns with Cypriot side Apollon Limassol, with whom she reached the round of 32 of this competition in 2017/18. She extended her stay with the Geneva-based club earlier this year, penning a deal until 2023.

The midfielder spent one year in Italy with Verona, finishing fourth in Serie A before moving to Switzerland for the first time with Neunkirch in 2014.

The Canadian international began her career with Toronto Lady Lynx, followed by a season with Ottawa Fury. She started her career abroad with England’s Doncaster Rovers Belles in 2012.

Sandy Maendly

The 33-year-old began her career with Chênois in 2004, the club that would later become Servette in 2017. She joined the current incarnation in 2018, following a year in Spain with Madrid.

The Geneva-born striker scooped her third Swiss Women's top-flight winners’ medal last term, all of them coming with different outfits – Young Boys (2010/11), Neunkirch (2016/17) before last season’s success.

The forward spent four years playing in Italy from 2011, winning three championship winners’ medals with two sides, AGSM Verona in 2014/15 and Torres (2011/12 and 2012/13) – with whom she also reached the last eight of this competition in successive seasons (2012/13 and 2013/14).

The Swiss international scored the winner as Les Grenat came back from a goal down to secure passage into the inaugural group stages in the 2-1 qualifying Round 2, second leg away success against Glasgow City on 8 September.

Ones to watch - Juventus

New Women’s Champions League format explained

Sara Gama

The 32-year-old scooped her fifth Serie A title last term, having previously experienced Italian top-flight glory with Brescia in 2015/16.

The defender has spent the bulk of her European career based in Italy, aside from a two-year spell with Paris (2013-15) which culminated in her being an unused substitute for their 2-1 UEFA Women’s Champions League final loss to Frankfurt in 2015.

The Bianconere skipper joined the club ahead of its inaugural season in 2017, and was handed the captain’s armband on the eve of their initial campaign.

In November 2020, the Italian international became the first female vice-president of the Italian Footballers' Association (AIC).

Cristiana Girelli

The 31-year-old – who was the first Juventus player to reach 50 goals for the club in all competitions – has finished as the top markswoman in each of the last two Serie A campaigns, with 16 strikes in 2019/20 and 22 last term.

The forward, in her fourth season with the Bianconere, chipped in with four goals in as many appearances in qualifying for this inaugural group stage.

The striker has reached double figures for goals in the Italian top-flight in each of her last nine seasons, a run stretching back to 2012.

The Italian international has clinched the Serie A title on eight occasions – three times with her first club Verona, twice in a five-season spell with Brescia, before her current run of league championships with Juventus.

Lina Hurtig

The 26-year-old joined Juventus in August 2020, having spent three years with Swedish side Linköpings, with whom she clinched a Damallsvenskan title in 2017.

The forward was a member of the Linköpings team that reached the last eight of this competition in 2017/18, losing 7-3 on aggregate to Manchester City. She failed to breach the Cityzens’ defence on either occasion, but did hit four goals en route to the quarter-finals.

The Swedish international tasted continental glory at Under-19 level in 2012, as part of the side that squeezed past Spain with a narrow extra-time victory in the showpiece final in Turkey.

The striker was also part of the Sweden side that finished third in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, and won silver at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Key stats

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

• Champions of Switzerland for the first time in their history last season, Servette booked their place in the group stage of the 2021/22 UEFA Women’s Champions League with a 3-2 aggregate victory over twice UEFA Women’s Champions League quarter-finalists Glasgow City in round two

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

• Jade Boho Sayo has scored in three of Servette’s previous four UEFA Women’s Champions League matches this season

• Juventus lost out to seven-time UEFA Women’s Champions League winners Lyon in the round of 32 last season

• Juventus remarkably won 22 out of 22 matches in the Italian league last season when they claimed a fourth successive domestic league title

• The Italian champions have scored 19 goals and conceded just once in their previous four European matches this season

Group stage: all you need to know