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UEFA Women's Champions League: Players to watch on Matchday 3

We pick out four players crucial to teams looking to turn their campaigns around.

Athenea del Castillo, Tabitha Chawinga, Marjolen Nekesa and Olivia Schough
Athenea del Castillo, Tabitha Chawinga, Marjolen Nekesa and Olivia Schough UEFA

Ahead of the third set of UEFA Women's Champions League group games on Wednesday and Thursday we look at four players crucial to teams hoping to turn their campaigns around.

Athenea del Castillo (Real Madrid)

Athenea del Castillo
Athenea del CastilloUEFA via Getty Images

By any standards it has been a decent start to the season for Athenea. Part of Spain's FIFA Women's World Cup-winning squad but sparingly used, she took part in all six UEFA Women's Nations League group games. Having only scored one competitive goal previously, her tally of five was the highest in League A and played a crucial role in the world champions reaching the inaugural Nations League finals.

For Madrid the 23-year-old forward has also been scoring regularly in domestic action. But now comes the challenge of doing it in the Champions League as they face a double-header with Paris FC, Madrid needing points after picking up just one in the opening two games. Despite having four career European goals, they have all come in qualifying, but Athenea looks in the form to open her group account.

Tabitha Chawinga (Paris Saint-Germain)

 Tabitha Chawinga
Tabitha Chawinga UEFA via Getty Images

Losses against Ajax and Bayern have left Paris with no margin for error as they take on Roma. But in Chawinga they have someone who knows all about scoring against Roma, having done so home and away in Serie A last season during a prolific year on loan from her Chinese club Wuhan Jianghan University FC, who have loaned her to Paris for 2023/24.

The 2022/23 Serie A Player of the Season, Chawinga has made an immediate impact in France, not least with an important goal in Champions League round 2 at Manchester United, making her the first Malawian to score in UEFA competition. Even in a team blessed with attacking talent, Chawinga is standing out.

Marjolen Nekesa (Slavia Praha)

Marjolen Nekesa
Marjolen NekesaUEFA via Getty Images

Chawinga isn't the only talent from an African nation not previously considered a women's football powerhouse to be making an impact on the highest club stage. Kenya forward Nekesa came to Slavia in 2022 via studies at Oklahoma Wesleyan University and a spell with Minsk.

After getting her first taste of the Women's Champions League group stage last season, she opened her European scoring account this time around in round 2 with three goals over the two legs against Olimpija Cluj. The pacy forward now will aim to add to that in the double-header with St. Pölten as Slavia attempt to close the Group B gap to Lyon and Brann.

Olivia Schough (Rosengård)

Olivia Schough
Olivia Schough UEFA via Getty Images

Rosengård ended the 2023 Damallsvenskan in an unfamiliar seventh place and have lost to Eintracht Frankfurt and Benfica so far in Group A, with a double-header against Barcelona now looming. But Rosengård do not lack experience or international class, not least in left-sided attacker Schough, capped more than 100 times by Sweden with the World Cup and Olympic medals to match.

The 32-year-old has reached double figures for goals in all three of her years at Rosengård and scored on Matchday 1 against Frankfurt. With experience of facing Barcelona twice last season, Schough is not to be taken lightly by the group leaders.

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