It’s a big night of Champions League football this evening as the first leg of the quarter-finals conclude.
With Barcelona edging a win over Rosengard yesterday, it’s the turn of the remaining six teams to make an early statement.
Tonight’s 1/4 Final Fixtures
Fortuna Hjorring v Manchester City (18.00)
Bayern Munich v PSG (18.00)
Wolfsburg v Lyon (19.15)
For fans of the FAWSL, the focus turns to Denmark where Manchester City take on Fortuna Hjorring. The league champions have already made history for themselves, reaching the quarter-finals in their first experience of the competition.
Manchester City’s road to the quarter-finals has been pretty straightforward so far. They cruised through against a potentially tricky opponent in Russian side Zvezda, winning 6-0 on aggregate. They then went on to face another Danish side, Brondby, who put up a sterner resistance but an away goal from Toni Duggan in the second leg saw them into the draw with a 2-1 win aggregate.
Fortuna also had a fairly simple path to this point of the competition. The Danish champions got past Athletic 5-2 across both legs before beating Brescia, the side that had put them out at the same stage the year before. The Danish team definitely have a longer history experiencing this competition. They last reached the quarter-finals in 2003 and have gone out in the Round of 16 ever since.
Traditionally in the past, this stage of the competition has proven to be a stumbling block for English sides. Being in the midst of pre-season has put them at a disadvantage to those sides that are in the middle of theirs. This is the case again for City this year, although they have had a strong pre-season schedule and, with the FA Cup game last weekend, players, especially the internationals, have plenty of minutes under the belt.
Lucy Bronze corroborated this point after the game against Reading last Sunday:
“Last year we didn’t have as much football and we had a slow start. For me especially, it was harder to get fit and the performance got better midway through the season. Now I feel like people are already closer to getting 100% fit and reaching those top performances and it is just about maintaining them.”
Despite the short preparation time, however, Nick Cushing was determined to make no excuses and called on his side to fully focus on the task ahead.
“It’s a Champions League game so we understand that we have to respect that game. It’s an away leg first and it’s new for us. Every Champions League game is new, but the first two rounds we’ve played, we’ve always played at home first. This is the first time we’ve played the first leg away so it’s another new experience for this team and another game plan that we’ve got to build in. I think we can beat anybody at home – I really do believe that – but we need to make sure we bring the tie back here. That will be the main focus.”