In the 2022/23 men’s Champions League, English sides have arguably under-performed thus far. Liverpool and Spurs made tame exits in the Round of 16, leaving the Premier League with “just” two teams in the last eight. In contrast, the female sides from the Women’s Super League (WSL) have perhaps over-achieved. There are two WSL outfits in the semis of the competition this year, but can either go all the way and claim glory to add to the brilliant success the English national team is enjoying right now?
2022/23 Semi Final Line-up
The semis will be played towards the end of April, with Arsenal and Chelsea hoping to set up an historic all-English final. The full fixtures are:
- 22nd April, Chelsea v Barcelona
- 23rd April, VfL Wolfsburg v Arsenal
- 27th April, Barcelona v Chelsea
- 1st May, Arsenal v VfL Wolfsburg
Arsenal were the only team of the four not to have been in Pot 1 for the Group Stage draw, which shows just how strong this semis line-up is. Chelsea topped Group A, winning five and drawing one of their six games, despite being pitted against both PSG and Real Madrid. Wolfsburg were unbeaten in Group B, Barca won five out of six in Group D and the Gunners upset Pot-1 Lyon to win Group C.
The cream has well and truly risen in this tournament and we should be in for two cracking semis over four games. Arsenal will really fancy their chances against Wolfsburg, having seen off Bayern in the semis. It won’t be easy, with Wolfsburg just a point behind Bayern domestically at the time of writing, but Arsenal should have enough.
The second leg of their game is due to be played at the Emirates and we might see a huge crowd for that one. With the Gunners pushing for the WSL title too they will certainly be in a confident frame of mind and that win over Bayern will have really given them belief they have what it takes.
The other game is perhaps tougher to call, with Barcelona so, so strong. Domestically Chelsea have put a shaky start behind them and are now odds-on favourites for the title. They have been the best team in England for so long, winning six WSL titles since 2015, including in each of the last three seasons.
However, one look at the Liga F table illustrates just how brilliant Chelsea’s opponents are. They are matching their male counterparts in being miles clear of Real Madrid but the numbers will surely strike fear into some Chelsea fans. Barca have won all 24 of their league games this term, scoring 101 times and conceding just five!
However, Emma Hayes’ team managed a 1-1 draw at Real Madrid in the Group Stage, their only dropped points. For comparison, at the end of March, Barca beat the side from the capital 1-0 in Catalonia. If Chelsea can match either of those scores in Barcelona, either claiming a draw or a narrow defeat, they will think they will stand a chance but they will need to perform brilliantly on home soil in the first game. That said, Barca lost 3-1 at Bayern in the group phase, so Chelsea know their task is not impossible.
Has an English side ever won the Women’s Champions League?
Chelsea will certainly be out for revenge in this semi, the game being a repeat of the 2020/21 final where they were comprehensively outplayed by Barca and lost 4-0. They froze a little on the day but will be so much better for the experience. However, that remains Chelsea’s only appearance in the final of this competition.
As for Arsenal, they are the only English side to ever win the Women’s Champions League. Back in 2006/07 they beat Swedish side Umea 1-0 over two legs. The game was very different back then, with just under 10,000 watching that final – including both games! Arsenal’s average attendance in this year’s WSL is over 17,000 by comparison!
That 2007 success is the only time Arsenal have made the final. In contrast Wolfsburg have won this competition twice and made three further finals. They won it in 2013 and 2014, losing the final in 2016, 2018 and 2020. As for Barca, there win over Chelsea is, rather surprisingly, their only win in the WUCL. However, they lost in the final last year (to Lyon) and also in 2019 (again to Lyon!).
So will an English side lift the trophy?
This is undoubtedly a very tough one to call, with Arsenal looking to avenge their defeat in last year’s quarter finals against Wolfsburg and Chelsea in a similar mood against Barca. Perhaps we’re being wildly optimistic but we’re going to predict an all-English final. We are certainly confident that the Gunners will be there in Eindhoven on the 3rd June. As long as they can stay in the tie in Germany, a huge home crowd should be able to roar them to victory in the return.
As for Chelsea, it will be so, so tough but they are hitting top gear at just the right time. We think they can pip Barca in what could be a classic tie. As for the final, it will be a brilliant occasion whichever two teams are there but all in all we are predicting … a Chelsea win!