UEFA.com profiles the eight UEFA Women's Champions League quarter-finalists aiming to lift the trophy at Stamford Bridge on 23 May including two past winners and one debutant.
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France and Sweden have both produced two UEFA Women's Champions League quarter-finalists but only one of those four sides will remain by the time of the 23 May Stamford Bridge decider, when holders Olympique Lyonnais could be facing fellow former winners Arsenal LFC or newcomers VfL Wolfsburg. UEFA.com profiles the eight hopefuls.
Quarter-finals: 20/21 & 27/28 March
FCF Juvisy Essonne (FRA) v Göteborg FC (SWE)
Olympique Lyonnais (FRA, holders) v FC Malmö (SWE)
Arsenal LFC (ENG) v ASD Torres CF (ITA)
VfL Wolfsburg (GER) v FC Rossiyanka (RUS)
Semi-finals: 13/14 & 20/21 April
Arsenal/Torres v Wolfsburg/Rossiyanka
Lyon/Malmö v Juvisy/Göteborg
Final (Stamford Bridge): 23 May
Winner semi-final 1 v Winner semi-final 2
FCF Juvisy Essonne (FRA)
Best performance: quarter-finals 2011
Quarter-final record: W0 L1
Top scorer: Gaëtane Thiney 2
Lyon are the dominant side in France but Juvisy are part of a strong chasing pack including Montpellier Hérault SC and Paris Saint-Germain FC, so even qualifying for Europe is no mean feat. Gaëtane Thiney is a regular in the France attack and there are few more experienced players than Sandrine Soubeyrand, the 39-year-old defender now within sight of a 200th Les Bleues cap. Their path to the last eight has been far from easy, against both FC Zürich and Stabæk FK drawing away then winning by a one-goal margin at home. Potsdam beat Juvisy in their previous quarter-final appearance.
Göteborg FC (SWE)
Best performance: quarter-finals 2012
Quarter-final record: W0 L1
Top scorer: Christen Press, Olivia Schough 3
Narrowly ousted by Arsenal in the last eight on their debut a year ago, Göteborg knocked out Fortuna Hjørring in the round of 16 for a second season running, but four saves at the death from Kristin Hammarström were all that kept them from an away goals defeat. Göteborg were bolstered last spring by arrivals from the United States – including Christen Press, Ingrid Wells, Yael Averbuch, Olivia Schough and England midfielder Anita Asante – while Hammarström has been a magnificent performer in goal. Only fourth in the 2012 Damallsvenskan, Göteborg need to win this competition at Stamford Bridge to return next season.
Olympique Lyonnais (FRA, holders)
Best performance: winners 2011, 2012
Quarter-final record: W5 L0
Top scorer: Louisa Necib, Laëtitia Tonazzi 4
Having never failed to reach the semi-finals since their 2007/08 debut, Lyon made it two titles in a row when they beat 1. FFC Frankfurt 2-0 in Munich last May. Indeed, Lyon have appeared in all three finals under the UEFA Women's Champions League banner, and with 23 unanswered goals in the competition so far this term are the team to beat once again. The team, spearheaded by Sweden striker Lotta Schelin and France playmaker Louisa Necib, has barely changed this year. Having agreeing a new contract, Élodie Thomis is two games away from becoming the sixth player to 50 women's UEFA club games, and Camille Abily, Sonia Bompastor and Necib could also make the half-century this season.
FC Malmö (SWE)
Best performance: semi-finals 2004
Quarter-final record: W1 L1
Top scorer: Anja Mittag, Katrine Veje 3
Their two-year reign as Swedish champions may have been ended by Tyresö FF in early November but Malmö – like Arsenal already qualified for 2013/14 – could yet be the first side from their nation to take the European title since Umeå IK's reign in 2002/03 and 2003/04. They beat ASD Verona CF home and away in the round of 16 and the signing last winter of Anja Mittag from Potsdam proved a masterstroke both on the domestic scene and in the UEFA Women's Champions League, where her three goals have taken her career European tally to 39 – just one off the current record. With Switzerland striker Ramona Bachmann, Danish winger Katrine Veje, Icelandic midfielder Sara Bjork Gunnarsdóttir and New Zealand defender Ali Riley in a cosmopolitan squad, Malmö will for the second year running have a new coach in the spring after Peter Moberg's departure and Jonas Eidevall's appointment.
Arsenal LFC (ENG)
Best performance: winners 2007
Quarter-final record: W5 L5
Top scorer: Jennifer Beattie 4
Arsenal, who knocked out fellow former champions 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam in the round of 16 earlier this month, have missed out on the last eight of this 12 season-old competition just once, when Fulham LFC were England's representatives in 2003/04. Having retained the English title again this year, thus already booking a European place for next term, they only led Potsdam 2-1 ahead of the away leg but Kelly Smith ended an injury-hit 2012 – in which she returned to the Gunners alongside Alex Scott and Gemma Davison – with a hat-trick in a 4-3 triumph in Germany, some consolation for their semi-final exit to 1. FFC Frankfurt last term. The squad has the cream of English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish talent, with goalkeeper Emma Byrne having made a competition-record 67 appearances, part of an all-Arsenal top four completed by outfield club-mates Ciara Grant (62), Jayne Ludlow (59) and Rachel Yankey (52).
Defender Faye White is currently on maternity leave and in her capacity as final ambassador she said: "I am very excited about this season's competition, with some thrilling matches to come before the final in May. It's great to see Arsenal Ladies, the only London club in the competition, still on the road to Stamford Bridge."
ASD Torres CF (ITA)
Best performance: quarter-finals 2010
Quarter-final record: W0 L1
Top scorer: Patrizia Panico 8
The first Italian quarter-finalists since they themselves made it in 2009/10, Torres overcame tricky ties against Apollon Limassol LFC and CFF Olimpia Cluj thanks in no small part to the goals of Patrizia Panico. Her hat-trick overturned a 2-0 deficit to win the first leg at Apollon, and the 37-year-old's tally of eight is the best of the knockout phase, though she is still three behind the Cypriot side's Laura Rus, who has 11 including qualifying, which all the quarter-finalists were excused. Torres, beaten by Lyon on their previous last-eight appearance, boast not only Panico but other key Italy players Elisabetta Tona, Giulia Domenichetti and Sandy Iannella.
VfL Wolfsburg (GER)
Best performance: first entry
Quarter-final record: n/a
Top scorer: Conny Pohlers 6
Germany's Frankfurt, Potsdam and FCR 2001 Duisburg all lifted the trophy in their first European season and Wolfsburg, the sole Frauen Bundesliga survivors, hope to emulate that. Though debutants, Wolfsburg began the competition among the favourites after significant investment that has brought together a squad including German internationals Luisa Wensing, Verena Faisst, Josephine Henning, Viola Odebrecht, Nadine Kessler, Lena Goeslling, Alexandra Popp, Martina Müller and Conny Pohlers, a European champion with Frankfurt and Potsdam and thanks to six goals this season now the first player to score 40 in UEFA women's club competition, managed in 34 appearances.
FC Rossiyanka (RUS)
Best performance: quarter-finals 2008, 2012
Quarter-final record: W0 L2
Top scorer: Natalia Shlyapina 3
Now coached by German Achim-Matthias Feifel, formerly in charge at Hamburger SV, the core of Rossiyanka's team are Russia goalkeeper Elvira Todua, defender Anna Kozhnikova, midfielder Olga Petrova, South African international Nompumelelo Nyandeni, Brazilian Fabiana and Swedish strike pair Linnea Liljegärd and Sofia Jakobsson. AC Sparta Praha ran Rossiyanka close in the round of 16 as Rossiynaka made this stage for the third time, German duo Frankfurt and Potsdam having beaten them in their previous appearances.