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UEFA Women’s Champions League: Quarterfinal roundup

Our Game Magazine spanned the globe this week, covering the UEFA Women’s Champions League quarterfinal matches. Here are reports from England and Germany. First, Khaled El-Ahmad checks in following the 1-1 draw between Arsenal and Linkopings. Olaf Goldbecker reports from Germany after the Turbine Potsdam vs. FCF Juvisy match, which ended with a 3-1 Potsdam victory. He also provides updates on the Zvezda Perm vs. Olympique Lyonnais and Everton LFC vs. FCR Duisburg matches.

By Khaled El-Ahmad

A great afternoon in England. I met up with Emma Hayes, former Chicago Red Stars coach and WNY Flash technical director. What was also interesting is that I am a former LFC coach and Emma is obviously a former Arsenal coach. So who would win (Thursday’s) Champions League matchup? Was it my team or Emma’s team?

I myself was convinced that LFC would win 2-0 and put an early end to this qualifying round, while Emma believed the Gunners would win with there experience. And thus the game began!

Arsenal in their traditional white and red colors, while LFC showed of their all blue kit. It didn’t take long before LFC created the first chance through Linda Sällström (Finish international) as she showed off her blazing speed. Even though Arsenal tried to posses the ball, LFC were tougher, faster, and better organized. Arsenal struggled to get into gear.

In my opinion, due to putting their star player (a favorite of mine) Kim Little as a forward. She didn’t get the ball and thus had no real impact on the game. This resulted in a slow buildup from an Arsenal side known for there “tici taci” style of play.

LFC sat back and waited for their chances, and they came not far into the first half. Sällström received the ball at midfield and when you would think she should wait for her team to support her, she decided to take on the slow Arsenal defense. Zoom zoom, and she was past the back line and finished with a great goal in the far side to give the away side the lead and a crucial away goal. What followed was at least three clear chances for LFC to put the game away but Emma Byrne (Irish International) kept the Gunners in the game. The first half ended 0-1, and I must say Arsenal looked sloppy, slow, and frustrated. Something had to be done! LFC looked organized, tough, sharp, and hungry to move on.

Second half was a different story. The Arsenal manager made the necessary changes, Kim Little into midfield, and (Ellen) White as a striker and thus the chase for an equalizer began. The Gunners displayed better football, but had trouble creating chances as LFC lead by (Charlotte) Rohlin (one of the best defenders in the world) cleared any chances and possibilities Arsenal had and tried to create. The longer the half went, the young LFC side began to tire and Arsenal came closer and closer. Even though no clear chances where created, the Gunners did equalize through a fantastic finish from White. It was 1-1, and Arsenal continued to pressure.

When the final whistle blew, LFC celebrated while Arsenal where rightly dissapointed. To summarize the game: LFC should have killed the game in first half, but thanks to Emma, and White’s goal, Arsenal is still alive. I predict that LFC will move on and will report directly from the second round in Åtvidaberg.

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By Olaf Goldbecker

The first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals was played, and everything looks like Germany can continue its dominance in this competition. Already on Tuesday, Turbine Potsdam secured a safe 3-0 road win at French FCF Juvisy.  Bianca Schmidt opened the scoring in the eighth minute, and Lira Bajramaj added a second goal 20 minutes later to give the German champion a relaxing lead. When Juvisy captain Sandrine Soubeyrand hit the ball into the own net halfway through the second half, the match was done. Everything but Potsdam bringing the score safely home in the second leg would be a big surprise.

The game between Russian top team Zvezda Perm and French powerhouse Olympique Lyonnais ended in a draw. The West Europeans were the stronger team throughout the whole match, but failed to convert their chances. Despite a 22-4 shot advantage, the game ended in a scoreless draw.

In the final game of this round, FCR Duisburg put in a good effort at Everton LFC and now have the best chance to reach an inner German semifinal against Turbine Potsdam. Without four players who were named to the World Cup roster today – Ursula Holl (benched), Inka Grings, Linda Bresonik, and Annike Krahn (all injured with first two sitting on the bench for the emergency case), the teams developed a relatively even match. The first half ended scoreless, but the second 45 minutes started with lots of action. First, it was Japanese international Kozue Ando who struck for the Germans in the 52nd minute. Only seven minutes later, Alex Popp added the second goal, followed by Natasha Dowie to put her team on the sheet just one minute later. Popp hit the back of the net for a second time in the 65th to give her team a comfortable 3-1 road win. The second leg will take place next week Wednesday .

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