Women's Champions League stars heading for Women's EURO 2022
Monday, 23 May 2022
We spotlight some of the top UEFA Women's Champions League talents who have the UEFA Women's EURO 2022 finals in their sights.
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The spotlight will be on European women's football like never before over the next few months.
First up is the UEFA Women's Champions League knockout phase, currently under way after the historic inaugural group stage, with one team set to be crowned in the Turin final on 21 May. A few short weeks after that, UEFA Women's EURO 2022 will unfold in England from 6 to 31 July, bookended by the opening game at Old Trafford and the Wembley decider.
Many of the stars now seeking glory for their clubs will be looking to double up with their national teams this summer, emulating 12 players (all from Germany) who have won the finals of both competitions in the same year. We highlight eight players who reached the UEFA Women's Champions League knockout stage and are likely to be key performers for their countries in England.
Kosovare Asllani: Real Madrid and Sweden
On course to play at her fourth Women's EURO for Sweden, with Olympic silver and FIFA Women's World Cup bronze already in her possession, Asllani's clubs included Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City before she agreed a move to the Spanish capital in 2019.
Asllani was CD Tacón's first signing after their takeover by Real Madrid, a year before the club was renamed – and her goals, playmaking skills and experience have been crucial to their swift rise to European prominence. Now 32, she is perhaps hitting form as consistently as at any time in her career.
Ada Hegerberg: Lyon and Norway
Rewind to the start of October, and the all-time record scorer in the Women's Champions League had not played for Lyon since a January 2020 injury, while her last Norway appearance had come in their unhappy Women's EURO 2017 campaign. That was when she chose to quit her national team, aged just 22, but Hegerberg's recent return for her club has been followed by perhaps an even more dramatic comeback.
On 24 March, she was named in the Norway squad for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers after months of talks, followed inevitably by an immediate hat-trick against Kosovo. Her presence this July seems more than likely, in a country where the opening sequence of the BBC's 2019 World Cup broadcasts included an animation of Hegerberg's Norway shirt hanging untouched on a dressing-room peg. Once again a UEFA Women's Champions League winner in May, will Hegerberg emerge from the Wembley dressing room on 31 July as Norway seek to end their 22-year wait for a fifth major trophy?
Cristiana Girelli: Juventus and Italy
Juventus have won the Serie A title every season since their 2017 formation and also finished above Chelsea to advance from their Women's Champions League group this term. Unsurprisingly, they supply much of the Italy squad as well, and Girelli is crucial to both teams.
A prolific centre-forward, Girelli has racked up the goals for Juve in Europe this season and hit nine in Women's EURO 2022 qualifying for Italy.
Marie-Antoinette Katoto: Paris Saint-Germain and France
Katoto showed huge promise as a youth striker for both Paris (whom she joined aged 12) and France – and she has kept that up in her senior career. At 23, she is already her club's all-time top scorer, approaching 150 goals at a rate of almost one per game. She has also struck over 20 for Les Bleues, having previously helped her nation win the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship in 2016.
Vital in Paris eclipsing Lyon both domestically and in Europe last season, Katoto could be the key to ending France's long wait for a major women's title.
Won both UEFA women's club and EURO titles in same year
2005: Turbine Potsdam & Germany
2009: Duisburg & Germany
2013: Wolfsburg & Germany
Only players who took the field in the final of both competitions are included.
Alexia Putellas: Barcelona and Spain
The first player to win the UEFA, FIFA and Ballon d'Or women's awards in the same year, Putellas bestrode the game in 2021, and the versatile left-sided attacking midfielder shows no sign of slowing down in 2022, being named UEFA Women's Champions League Player of the Season.
Even in a team as packed with talent as Barcelona, the 28-year-old stands out – and she is a key reason why Spain, yet to reach a major final, are many people's favourites in July.
Jill Roord: Wolfsburg and Netherlands
Roord was a fringe squad member when the Netherlands won Women's EURO 2017 and a regular substitute in their run to the 2019 World Cup final.
But now the midfielder is a fixture in the Oranje line-up and has been superb since her switch to Wolfsburg from Arsenal last summer, in particular finding goalscoring form.
Lea Schüller: Bayern and Germany
Schüller has been finding the net at close to a goal per game since she swapped Essen for Bayern in 2020, and for Germany she weighed in with 11 strikes in the last full calendar year.
"I scored a lot of goals, but I haven’t reached my limit yet," was her reflection on being named Germany's Player of the Year in 2021, and she ended this season as Bundesliga top scorer. If she can continue to bring success to Bayern, and put Germany back on top come July, Schüller's prediction could well be proved right.
Leah Williamson: Arsenal and England
"She's one of our own," sing the Arsenal fans of a player who joined the Gunners aged nine. Now in her mid-20s, she is a defender of poise and guile and has also been entrusted with stepping up and holding the midfield by England manager Sarina Wiegman, who handed Williamson the captain's armband in the absence of Steph Houghton and has made the appointment permanent.
Whether or not it would be her job to lead the Lionesses up the Wembley steps should they triumph on 31 July, it is difficult to imagine a home Women's EURO success in which Williamson does not play a central role.