Liverpool Football Club have a long, illustrious history in European competition. On Wednesday Liverpool Ladies will become a part of that history with their début performance in the Women’s Champions League.
Report by Heather Carroll (@LFCLadiesfans)
European competition was introduced to women’s football in 2001/02, launching as the UEFA Women’s Cup and being re-branded as the Women’s Champions League in 2009/10. In England the top 2 teams in the Women’s Super League qualify for Champions League places, Liverpool qualifying for the 2014/15 competition after winning the league in 2013.
Despite inexperience for the club in Europe, a number of players have European experience. Gemma Davison featured in Arsenal‘s Champions League campaign last season and won the UEFA Women’s Cup with the Gunners in 2006/07, while leading goal scorer Natasha Dowie, Fara Williams and Becky Easton all came to Liverpool having played in Europe with Everton Ladies. German left-back Corina Schroder will also be a vital player for the reds, having won 2 European medals while at German clubs FCR 2001 Duisburg and FFC Turbine Potsdam.
The draw for both the Round of 32 and Round of 16 was completed on 22nd August, Liverpool Ladies were unseeded and could have come up against European heavyweights WfL Wolfsburg or Olympique Lyon amongst others.
For the Round of 32 Liverpool will be pitted against Swedish Cup winners Linköpings FC, a side that finished third in the 2013 Swedish league – the Damallsvenskan – however were granted entry into the Champions League after 2nd placed club Tyresö FF declared bankruptcy.
Should Liverpool progress from the Round of 32, a trip to either Iceland or Russia will await them. The winner of Stjarnan v WFC Zvezda-2005 will face either Liverpool or Linköpings in the Round of 16 in November.
Linköpings FC finished 3rd in the Damallsvenskan in 2013, behind winners FC Rosengård (formerly FC Malmö) and Tyresö FF. This season Linköpings won the Swedish Cup and are once again battling out to finish 2nd place, having suffered an early season injury crisis not dissimilar to Liverpool Ladies.
Svenska cup mästare!!! Lå lå lå.. Fy fan var det känns asbra ??????? pic.twitter.com/agpePxSrNl
— Pernille Harder (@PernilleMHarder) August 7, 2014
Prior to losing their last league match 1-0 to Kristianstad DFF, Linköping had enjoyed a run of 7 wins in 8 games – including beating league champions FC Rosengård 3-2 away from home and recording an 8-0 win over bottom placed side Jitex BK.
One to watch: Pernille Harder
Nina Frausing will come up against her international team mate, influential Danish forward Pernille Harder. Harder has 29 league goals in 32 appearances over the last couple of seasons.
22-year old Harder made her international début aged 16, scoring a hat-trick to kick-start an international career that has so far seen her capped 53 times with 26 goals.
Linköpings have won 7 of their last 9 games on their league run-in, with Harder chalking up 9 goals. As mentioned earlier Linköpings have suffered from injury this year, Harder missed the first 7 league games before scoring on her return after coming on as a substitute in the 2-0 win over Tyresö FF.
While Liverpool avoided a clash with Europe’s elite for the Round of 32 and Round of 16, progression from here could see Matt Beard’s reds face a number of former winners and experienced Champions League sides.
Defending champions Wolfsburg WfL have recorded back-to-back wins in the Champions League, overcoming Olympique Lyon 1-0 in 2013 and coming from behind to clinch a 4-3 win over ex-Liverpool defender Whitney Engen’s side Tyresö FF earlier this year. Wolfsburg will begin the defence of their title in Norway, away at Stabæk Fotball.
2013 runners-up Olympique Lyon will begin their campaign in Italy against A.C.F. Brescia Femminile. Lyon also have back-to-back Champions League titles, winning in 2011 and 2012 and have featured in 4 of the last 5 finals. Last season the French club failed to get past the Round of 16, knocked out on away goals by FFC Turbine Potsdam.
Turbine Potsdam failed to qualify for this season’s Champions League, instead another former German winner FFC Frankfurt takes their place. Frankfurt have played in 5 European Cup finals, winning the UEFA Women’s Cup 3 times and last finished runners-up in 2011/12.
While Germany and France have dominated the competition since it’s inception in 2001/02, with 10 of the 13 winners being from either country. Umeå IK of Sweden won two titles in the early years and Arsenal Ladies won in 2006/07.
Umeå will not feature in this year’s competition, Swedish champions FC Rosengård will however and boast Brazilian forward and 5-time FIFA World Player of the Year Marta amongst their ranks. Rosengård were knocked out in the Round of 16 last year by eventual winners Wolfsburg.
For supporters, players and staff of Liverpool Football Club playing in the Women’s Champions League for the first time will be a fantastic occasion and a great reward for the hard work everyone at the club has put into the side over the last couple of years.
The first leg against Linkopings FC will be played at Select Stadium, Widnes on Wednesday 8th October at 6:30pm. Tickets are available to buy online now, priced at just £5 adults and £2.50 concessions. Tickets will also be available on the night however buying in advance will enter supporters into a prize draw to win a signed shirt from Liverpool vice-captain Amanda Da Costa.