Arsenal Women play Wolsburg in the first leg of the UEFA Women’s Champions League quarter-final tomorrow at Emirates Stadium. Wolfsburg have won the Champions League twice, most recently in 2014, and have been runners up in 2018 and 2020.
Arsenal last played in the quarter-final of the Champions League in 2020, a tie that was postponed until August because of the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Arsenal will hope to do better than last time, and progress past Wolfsburg, but given the German’s side pedigree and quality, it shouldn’t be expected that Arsenal progress, but that it is instead competitive; something Arsenal haven’t been in their last two Champions League matches, against Barcelona and Hoffenheim.
Wolfsburg, on the other hand, got into the knockout stage of the Champions League by beating Chelsea 4-0, knocking Chelsea out. They sit top of the Frauen Bundesliga by a point ahead of Bayern Munich.
Wolfsburg play a heavy counter-attacking system. Rather than one main goal-scorer, Wolfsburg share the goals: Waßmuth has 15 in all competitions, while former Arsenal midfielder Jill Roord has scored 10 goals, with other attackers chipping in.
Arsenal will check the fitness of Rafaelle Souza, who has missed the last two matches, and Mana Iwabuchi.
Lia Wälti has been one of the keys to Arsenal’s improvement in form. Wälti and Jonas Eidevall took some time to work out her best role, with Wälti moving from being purely the tempo-setting #6 that she was under Joe Montemurro: “It was just a different game for me, I was higher up the pitch and less involved in the buildups.”
Wälti’s range of passing has been hugely important for Arsenal, giving them another avenue to switch play. With her two-footedness, she is extremely press resistant, and that should give Arsenal the ability to play quickly into wide spaces.
Predicted lineup (4-2-3-1): 1. Zinsberger; 16. Maritz, 6. Williamson, 3. Wubben-Moy, 7. Catley; 10. Little, 13. Wälti; 9. Mead, 11. Miedema, 15. McCabe; 25. Blackstenius
Substitutes: 18. Williams, 2. Rafaelle Souza, 5. Beattie, 8. Nobbs, 12. Maanum, 14. Parris, 19. Foord, 26. Wienroither, 77. Heath
WHAT: Arsenal Women vs Wolfsburg Frauen, UEFA Women’s Champions League
WHERE: Emirates Stadium, London
WHEN: Wednesday, March 23rd 1:00 PM PDT | 4:00 PM | 8:00 PM BST
WATCH: DAZN YouTube