Chelsea Ladies v Wolfsburg Frauen
Wednesday November 11, 19:00
It finished Luverdense 0 Botafogo 1 last night. The Lone Star won promotion back to Serie A, and we shouldn't be amazed by that (a gag for the country and western fans among you there).
I fancy a night in my own bed for once, so we're off to the south-east of England tonight, and we're taking in a Women's Champions League clash between Chelsea and Wolfsburg.
Chelsea have dominated domestically, completing a Women's Super League and FA Cup double, and this last-16 tie against mighty Wolfsburg will be a great gauge of where the club is at in its progression. The visiting Wolves will certainly pose a huge threat - they have won this tournament in two of the last three seasons, and they are second in the Bundesliga back home in Germany.
Chelsea have a confident group, and astute manager Emma Hayes says she has a gameplan which can neutralise talented opponents. Chelsea certainly have top-quality performers throughout their side.
Goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl has made a huge difference to the team as a defensive unit, and a collection of 16 clean sheets this season is testament to that. Full-back Claire Rafferty featured heavily for England in their excellent World Cup campaign, while veteran midfielder Katie Chapman isn't far off 100 England caps. South Korean midfielder Ji So-Yun is the reigning PFA Women's Players' Player of the Year, while the possible front two of Eni Aluko and Fran Kirby is a potent mix of speed and trickery.
Chelsea comfortably overcame Glasgow City in the previous round, winning 1-0 at home and then powering through 3-0 in Scotland. That means Chelsea have won nine of their last ten matches in all competitions, keeping eight clean sheets in the process.
Wolfsburg are by far the biggest test for Hayes' side. Alexandra Popp and Lena Goessling are experienced and technically gifted German internationals, while Swiss international forward Ramona Bachmann has a great eye for goal.
There is a potential weakness in the line-up though. First-choice keeper Almuth Schult has a metatarsal fracture, so 20-year-old Merle Frohms comes in. She is talented but lacks experience at this level. Wolfsburg are also without last year's FIFA Player of the Year Nadine Kessler because of a long-term injury, and midfielder Isabel Kerschowski is also sidelined.
Wolfsburg coach Ralf Kellermann says his side should be favourites because of their experience, but at 1.454/9 to win the first leg they look too short to me. In the last 32, Wolfsburg drew 0-0 away to Spartak Subotica before winning the return 4-0, and I think they'll be somewhat circumspect once again. Chelsea are on a high, and have plenty of talented players and a clever coach, and although I think they'll lose the tie they might make things interesting in the first leg.
Lay Wolfsburg at 1.454/9