Best of Three UWCL: Are Bayern Munich any good?
Plus Chelsea enter their control era and how early UWCL surprises reflect on the qualification system
Throughout the Champions League, I’m going to have my second piece of the week for paid subscribers be a version of Best of Three based on that game week. The Champions League is by far and away the best competition in the women’s game and I think it’s a crying shame that it gets as little coverage as it does. That is likely to be further exacerbated this season in England by the fact that Chelsea are the only English team playing in it. So this is my small effort to help shine some light on it.
The first matchday of the Champions League group stage kicked off with some big wins, as Barcelona beat Benfica 5-0 and Lyon beat Slavia Praha 9-0. Both groups that these teams are in are much more interesting in terms of who will come second, with Barcelona and Lyon being obvious favourites to top the group. To that extent, it was advantage Eintracht Frankfurt, who won away in Rosengard, and Brann who beat St Pölten.
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There was a shock result in the Group of Death, Group C, as Ajax beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 to win their first ever Champions League match. Meanwhile Roma came from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Bayern Münich. And there was controversy in Group D, as Chelsea fell foul of some poor refereeing which meant that they only picked up a point away at Real Madrid. Paris FC lost to BK Häcken in an early blow to their hopes of qualifying from the group.
Are Bayern Münich any good?
On the face of it, Bayern Münich have one of the most balanced squads in Europe right now. They have signed well over the past couple of years, whilst long-term mainstays at the club have begun to hit their peak years. Realistically this is a team who should be targeting reaching the Champions League final. However, despite going two goals up against Italian champions Roma they were forced to settle for a point.
Bayern are in a tough group and cannot afford to drop many points so to throw away a two goal lead would have been particularly galling. In the absence of Pernille Harder and Lina Magull through injury, Jovana Damnjanovic has been playing as a number 10 behind Lea Schüller. The Serbian forward has traditionally been used as a striker but (despite being lucky to stay on the pitch after a terrible tackle) she demonstrated why Bayern could be such an exciting attacking season this season. Roaming across the pitch, switching with Schüller or with Klara Bühl on the left, Damnjanovic offered a midfield intensity with her physical presence as well as an added box threat. It is easy to see why Bayern targeted Harder who is perfect to play an identical role.
This is a team with strong ideas but a soft underbelly. There is a high chance that their cohesion in attack grows as the season continues and they become more dangerous in front of goal. But to become a side that truly has a chance of reaching the final, they need to stop being so open on the break. The pieces are there to be a talented side but it is not quite clicking yet.
Is control Chelsea’s most important asset this year?
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