NYON, Switzerland (AP)The Women’s Champions League groups that will mostly be played when men’s top-tier club soccer in Europe is shut down for its World Cup were drawn Monday.
Women’s soccer aims to build on the successful European Championship in July, and the elite club competition has been scheduled with the decisive final three group-stage rounds in December that avoid fixture clashes with knockout games in Qatar.
Four of the six Women’s Champions League group-stage rounds have been scheduled – between Nov. 23 and Dec. 22 – when most participating clubs also have their main stadium unused and available for the women’s team while men’s domestic leagues are paused during the World Cup.
”We try to encourage clubs to think about it, to have special moments in their schedule,” Nadine Kessler, UEFA Chief of Women’s Football, said about Champions League games using storied venues.
In last season’s group stage, clubs like Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain used their main stadium only for games against a big-name opponent. For their home games, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Real Madrid used secondary venues such as at a training ground.
Kessler said some teams planned even before the draw to use their main stadium this season: ”That’s very reassuring.”
In Monday’s 16-team draw, titleholder Lyon was grouped with Arsenal, Juventus and Zurich.
Lyon and Juventus both used their main stadium in the group stage last season and when they met in the quarterfinals last season. Lyon went on to win its eighth European title in 12 years.
English champion Chelsea will play PSG, Real Madrid and Vllaznia, which is the first Albanian men’s or women’s club to reach the round of 16 in any European competition for more than 30 years.
Barcelona, the 2021 champion and runner-up last season, will play Bayern, Rosengard and Benfica.
Two-time champion Wolfsburg was drawn with Slavia Prague, St. Polten and Roma.
Games begin Oct. 19, three days before the draw is made for the 2023 Women’s World Cup finals tournament being co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand. The Oct. 22 draw is in Auckland.
The sixth and final Champions League round on Dec. 21 and 22 will be among the first games played in Europe after the World Cup final on Dec. 18 in Qatar.
All Women’s Champions League games are broadcast live on YouTube as part of UEFA’s rights deal with broadcaster DAZN.
The final is on June 3 or 4 in Eindhoven, Netherlands.
Group A: Chelsea (England), Paris Saint-Germain (France), Real Madrid (Spain), Vllaznia (Albania).
Group B: Wolfsburg (Germany), Slavia Prague (Czechia), St. Polten (Austria), Roma (Italy).
Group C: Lyon (France), Arsenal (England), Juventus (Italy), Zurich (Switzerland).
Group D: Barcelona (Spain), Bayern Munich (Germany), Rosengard (Sweden), Benfica (Portugal).
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