Women’s Champions League: Arsenal in Barcelona’s group, Chelsea with Wolfsburg


Arsenal will face the reigning European champions, Barcelona, in the first Champions League group stage after coming through qualifying.

The Gunners, who finished third in the Women’s Super League, were drawn in Group C, which also includes the European debutants Hoffenheim and Danish champions HB Høge.

Chelsea, beaten by Barcelona in last season’s final, were the WSL’s other representatives in Monday’s draw and they ended up in a tough-looking Group A with Wolfsburg, Juventus and the Swiss side Servette.

Arsenal, having pipped Manchester United to the final Champions League qualifying place by a single point, defeated the Kazakh side Okzhetpes and PSV Eindhoven in round one and Slavia Prague in round two to ensure a place in pot two for the group stage draw.

Barcelona, the Spanish champions, played Arsenal in their first European competition in 2012-13, with the English side winning 7-0 on aggregate in the last 32 and the defender Jen Beattie scoring four times. Barcelona have since received fresh investment and embarked on a revamp of their women’s setup that saw the team reach a first final in 2019, only to suffer a stinging 4-1 defeat by Lyon, before winning the competition two years later, beating Chelsea as emphatically, 4-0, in Gothenburg.

Chelsea face a familiar foe in Wolfsburg, whom they have met four times in the competition, finally beating the German side for the first time across two legs in last season’s quarter-finals. Juventus, the Italian champions, are managed by the former Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro.

The seven-times Champions League winners Lyon are to play the German champions Bayern Munich, Sweden’s BK Häcken (formerly Gothenburg) and Portugal’s Benfica as they attempt to return to winning ways in the competition they had won five times in a row until Paris Saint-Germain eliminated them at the quarter-final stage last term.

PSG will play the Icelandic side Breidablik, a Real Madrid team who knocked out Manchester City over two legs in qualifying and the Ukrainian club WFC Kharkiv.

The first round of group fixtures will be played on the 5-6 October. As part of a landmark first centralised broadcast rights deal for the Champions League, all group games will be shown live on the streaming platform DAZN in partnership with YouTube across the globe, excluding the Middle East and north Africa and China and its territories.