My personal blog on Scottish Women's Football
Last weekend saw British interests end in this season’s Women’s Champions League – with both Glasgow City and Bristol Academy being knocked out by PSG and Frankfurt respectively. But was is the Women’s Champions League?
The competition is relatively new, with the decision made by the UEFA Executive Committee on the 23rd May 2010. Originally known as the UEFA Women’s Cup, to qualify you had to win your country’s premier national competition – whether this was a league or a cup. The first competition took place in the 2001-02 season.
33 teams from 33 associations competed for the first title, and it began with a qualifying round between Moldovan side Codru Chişinău and Slovenian team Ilirija – and it was Codru that progressed winning 18-0 over two legs. They joined 31 other sides in the group stage: made from eight groups of four teams.
Each group was played over five days with each side playing 3 games. One side from each group was deemed as the host, and every group game was played in their city. The group winners progressed to the two-legged quarter-finals, and the knockout stage progressed to the final. The debut tournament’s final was a single-legged tie and was won by Frankfurt who beat the Swedish team Umeå 2-0.
The tournament was expanded to 35 teams in the second season, which saw the introduction of a qualifying group – one group of four lowest ranked teams, with the same format as the groups. The rest of the tournament was identical to the first season, apart from the final which was changed to a two-legged tie.
The third season saw the tournament expand again, now with 41 sides from 40 associations – Sweden were awarded two entrants because Umeå were the holders. This led to an expansion of the qualifying round to three four-team groups made up of the twelve lowest ranked sides. There was also a name change to this stage, becoming the First Qualifying Round and the group stage being renamed the Second Qualifying Round.
Once again, the next edition (2004-05) saw an expansion in teams to 43 from 42 associations, with Sweden once again having a second entrant. There was a radical change to the qualifying round with there now nine four-team groups in the First Qualifying Round. The group winners progressed onto the Second Qualifying Round where they were joined by the top seven ranked teams. The top two teams from each group progressed to the Quarter Finals.
This format was used until the 2007-08 season where there were now 45 sides. This led to another expansion of the First Qualifying Round to ten groups of four teams. The only other format saw the final return back to a single game, which was won by Frankfurt.
The 2008-09 competition saw the format revert to the one last used in 200607. 28,112 people watched the Final Second Leg in the German MSV-Arena as Duisburg beat the Russian club Zvezda Perm 7-1 on aggregate.
2009-10 saw a big rebrand as the tournament became the UEFA Women’s Champions League, increasing to 53 sides from 44 associations. For the first time, the top ranked eight leagues had two entrants, with the runner-ups of their national competitions included. Germany received three entrants as the holders Duisburg had failed to qualify through their league.
The format was changed too. The lowest ranked 28 sides entered the Qualifying Round, made up of six groups of four teams. From the 30th July to the 4th August 2009, each side played each other once – with one team chosen as the hosts. The group winners progressed straight to the knockout stage – the Round of 32. The Round of 32 is the only knockout round that was seeded, and all the knockout rounds up to the final were played over two legs. The Final reverted to a single game, and this was edition’s final was the first to be decided on a penalty shootout – Potsdam beat Lyon 7-6 on penalties.
Next season saw the tournament reduce to 51 teams, which meant the two best runners-up of the Qualifying Round reached the Round of 32. To work this out, the matches against the first and third placed teams are compared to the other groups. This tournament also saw the introduction of seeding for the Qualifying Round i.e. first, second, third and fourth seeds.
The 2011-12 tournament saw 54 sides enter, which meant there were now eight qualifying rounds. The two best runners-up still progressed to the Round of 32. This format remains to the current day.
These are the UEFA League Coefficients from the 2013-14 season.
Round of 32
|29||Bosnia and Herzegovina|
|31||Republic of Ireland|
The most successful British side in the Women’s Champions League is Arsenal Ladies who not only have reached five semi-finals but lifted the trophy in 2007 – defeating Umeå 1-0 over the two legs. There has only been one other British team to reach the semi-final stage – Birmingham City.
This season (2014-15) saw both Bristol Academy and Glasgow City reach the Quarter-Final stage, the latter the best performance by a Scottish side.
From Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Wales, the only team to progress from any group stage is the Irish side Peamount United in the 2011-12 season. They were knocked out by PSG in the Round of 32.
UEFA Women’s Cup
|2008-09||Duisburg||Zvezda 2005 Perm||7-1|
*Score over Two Legs **One Legged Tie.
UEFA Women’s Champions League
|2009-10||Potsdam||Lyon||0-0 (7-6 pens)|
This means Germany are the most successful country, providing 8 Champions and 4 Runners-Ups. Sweden is next, with 2 winners and 5 Runners-Ups. France and England are the only other countries to provide a champion.