Quarter-finals in contenders' sights

The round of 16 concludes from Wednesday with holders 1. FFC Potsdam, FCR 2001 Duisburg and Olympique Lyonnais in strong positions but Arsenal LFC and Brøndby IF trailing.

Linköping (in blue) take a 2-0 lead to Sparta Praha
Linköping (in blue) take a 2-0 lead to Sparta Praha ©astromssportfoto.se/Erik Åström

The UEFA Women's Champions League quarter-final lineup is decided this week and while holders 1. FFC Potsdam and fellow favourites FCR 2001 Duisburg and Olympique Lyonnais will be defending round of 16 leads, Arsenal LFC and Brøndby IF could be facing unusually early exits.

Six of the second legs are on Wednesday, when Potsdam will take a 7-0 lead across the border to Austrian champions SV Neulengbach and Lyon welcome Russia's FC Rossiyanka to Stade de Gerland holding a 6-1 advantage. Potsdam's German rivals Duisburg, European champions in 2009, are 4-2 up going into their return at 2003 runners-up Fortuna Hjørring of Denmark following a thrilling first game last week.

Wednesday's other matches are similarly poised. Linköpings IF, flying the Swedish flag alone after two-time titleholders Umeå IK's early exit, defend a 2-0 lead at AC Sparta Praha while Lyon's compatriots FCR Juvisy Essonne are 2-1 to the good as they welcome Torres of Italy. Meanwhile 2009 runners-up Zvezda-2005 host Røa IL following a 1-1 first-leg draw in Norway. Last season when the teams met at this stage, Røa went through on away goals after drawing 0-0 at home then 1-1 in Russia.

Both of the remaining ties conclude on Thursday and the English sides involved are in contrasting positions. Arsenal, champions in 2007, have never failed to reach the quarter-finals in eight previous European campaigns but must overturn a 2-0 deficit at home to Rayo Vallecano de Madrid, who are hoping to become the first Spanish side in the last eight. Everton have never reached that stage but look set to do so as they hold a 4-1 advantage ahead of the visit of two-time semi-finalists Brøndby IF.

Once the eight quarter-finalists are decided, they will await the draw for the remainder of the competition on 19 November in Nyon at 12.00CET. The quarter-finals are on 16/17 and 23/24 March, the semi-finals on 9/10 and 16/17 April and the final, at a London venue to be confirmed, is scheduled for Thursday 26 May, two days before the men's UEFA Champions League decider at Wembley.