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Women's Champions League Matchday 3: What to watch out for on Thursday

We preview Thursday's action in Groups C and D.

Chelsea host Häcken while Paris Saint-Germain face a crucial game against Roma on Thursday
Chelsea host Häcken while Paris Saint-Germain face a crucial game against Roma on Thursday UEFA

The 2023/24 UEFA Women's Champions League group stage continues on Thursday with some crucial games. We preview the action.

Matchday 3 games

Thursday 14 December:

Group C
Bayern vs Ajax (18:45), Paris Saint-Germain vs Roma (21:00)

Group D
Paris FC vs Real Madrid (18:45), Chelsea vs Häcken (21:00)

Wednesday 13 December:

Group A
Rosengård 0-6 Barcelona, Benfica 1-0 Frankfurt 

Group B
St. Pölten 0-0 Slavia Praha, Lyon 3-1 Brann

All times CET

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Häcken aim to keep surprising

Häcken picked up just three points in their previous group stage appearance in 2021/22, losing all their home matches. This time they have already doubled that points tally, winning 2-1 away to Paris FC then coming from behind to beat Real Madrid by the same scoreline in Gothenburg.

So in a group where Häcken began as outsiders they are top, two points ahead of Chelsea, their hosts at Stamford Bridge on Thursday. That means a reunion with her former club for in-form Blues midfielder Johanna Rytting Kaneryd, who moved to London in summer 2022 and told SVT Sport last month that Häcken were "close to my heart".

However, Chelsea are looking in determined mood in what will be Emma Hayes's last chance before leaving of finally claiming the European title, Sam Kerr's brilliant hat-trick downing Paris at Stamford Bridge last time out. However, their unbeaten start to the season ended on Sunday with a 4-1 loss at Arsenal, the first time Chelsea have conceded four in an away domestic game since 2015.

Highlights: Häcken 2-1 Real Madrid

Paris pair seek solace

In the first two seasons of the group stage, it was London that had multiple representatives but this time Paris has that honour. Indeed, their performances were perhaps the headline of qualifying as Paris Saint-Germain held off the challenge of Manchester United and Paris FC brilliantly knocked out former champions Arsenal and Wolfsburg, neither of who had previously been eliminated before the quarter-finals.

Just as great a surprise, though, is the fact that neither have a point between them. PFC, after those losses to Häcken and Chelsea, need to get off the mark as they welcome Madrid, hoping at least to reproduce the quality of their high-energy performance in London, where they had the Blues worried before Kerr decided the game.

Paris Saint-Germain went down 2-0 at Ajax and then 1-0 at home to Bayern, leaving them three points adrift in Group C and making the visit of leaders Roma to Parc des Princes a real crunch tie. The two-time finalists recovered from only picking up one point in their first pair of games last season in another tough group, and Marie-Antoinette Katoto's goalscoring return from injury has been a cause for optimism along with Tabitha Chawinga's form since joining in the summer.

Highlights: Chelsea 4-1 Paris FC

When are the rest of the Women's Champions League group stage games?

Matchday 4: 20/21 December
Matchday 5: 24/25 January
Matchday 6: 30/31 January

Briefing notes

  • Ajax's opening win against Paris Saint-Germain was a superb result, though tempered by their subsequent 3-0 loss at Roma. The Dutch champions are still only a point off the top two as they go to Bayern on Wednesday.

Where is the 2024 UEFA Women's Champions League final being played?

San Mamés Stadium in Bilbao will stage the 2024 UEFA Women's Champions League final on Saturday 25 May, with the kick-off time to be confirmed.

The 50,000-plus capacity home of Bilbao's Athletic Club was built on the site of the old San Mamés, replacing the 100-year-old arena of the same name in 2013. Athletic Club women's team have played several games in the new stadium, attracting 48,121 fans for a 2019 cup tie against Atlético de Madrid, at the time a Spanish record.

San Mamés previously staged two quarter-finals and a semi-final when the 2019/20 Women's Champions League concluded with an eight-team knockout tournament played behind closed doors. The other matches, including the final, were held in San Sebastián, the second time the competition had concluded in Spain after the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez in Getafe held the first decider of the rebranded Women's Champions League in 2010.