Arsenal have been handed a two-legged tie against Italian Serie A runners up Fiorentina in the Women’s Champions League round of 32 on their return to the competition after a five-and-a-half-year absence.
The Gunners are the only British team to have won the competition, in their historic quadruple winning season in 2007.
Arsenal secured their Champions League berth by winning the league for the first time in seven years but were unseeded in the draw, meaning they might have been drawn against champions Lyon, and were joined in the draw by runners-up Manchester City.
City will play the Swiss team Lugano. Last season, City limped out of round of 32 to Spanish champions Atlético Madrid. It was their third consecutive season in the European competition and their worst performance, having reached the semi final stage on both previous occasions.
Emma Hayes’s Chelsea, who reached the semi-final of the competition before exiting 3-2 on aggregate to eventual champions Lyon, did not qualify having finished five points behind Manchester City in the Women’s Super League.
Last season’s Champions League runners-up Barcelona were drawn against the Italian champions, and the home of English forward Eni Aluko, Juventus.
Six-time winners and holders Lyon, have been drawn against Russian champions Ryazan-VDV, while German champions Wolfsburg will play Kosovo’s Mitrovica. Glasgow City take on Russian side Chertanovo and last season’s Scottish Women’s Premier League runners-up Hibernian have been drawn against Slavia Prague from the Czech Republic.
The first legs will take place on 11/12 September, with the return fixtures on 25/26 September. The final will be played in the 17,656 capacity Viola Park in Vienna on 24 May.
And here’s the champions’ reaction.
Some social media reaction from Arsenal, none as yet from City.
The draw in full, and in reverse order to them being pulled out.
FC Minsk v FC Zurich.
Lugano v Manchester City
Pitea v Brondby
Mitrovica v Wolfsburg
Breidablik v Sparta Prague
Anderlecht v BIIK-Kazygurt
St. Pölten v FC Twente
IFK Gothenburg v Bayern Munich
Arsenal v Fiorentina
Ryazan-VDV v Lyon
Chertanovo v Glasgow City FC
Vllaznia v Fortuna Hjørring
Sporting Lisbon v Paris Saint-Germain
ZFK Spartak v Atlético Madrid
Hibernian v SK Slavia Prague
Juventus v Barcelona
The matches will be played 11/12 & 25/26 September.
And that, in the words of Graham Kelly, concludes the draw.
The final tie: Belarus’ FC Minsk v FC Zurich.
Switzerland’s Lugano v Manchester City.
Sweden’s Pitea v Brondby of Denmark.
Kosovo’s Mitrovica v Wolfsburg, winners in 2013 and 2014.
Iceland’s Breidablik v Sparta Prague.
Anderlecht v BIIK-Kazygurt of Kazakhstan.
Austria’s St. Pölten v FC Twente from the Netherlands.
Sweden’s IFK Gothenburg v Bayern Munich, last year’s semi-finalists.
Arsenal v Fiorentina, trip to Italy for the English champs.
Russia’s Ryazan-VDV v Lyon, the six-time champions.
Russia’s Chertanovo v Glasgow City FC
Albania’s Vllaznia v Fortuna Hjørring of Denmark.
Sporting Lisbon v Paris Saint-Germain
Serbia’s ZFK Spartak v Atlético Madrid
Hibernian v SK Slavia Prague.
Juventus v Barcelona
Juventus, an unseeded team come first, and draw FC Barcelona in a huge fixture. Barca reached last season’s final.
Away we go….
Anne Vonnez, the women’s football competition expert, guides us through the process.
Making the draw will be Josephine Henning, four-times a winner of this competition, and who finished her career at Arsenal. She won it with FFC Turbine Potsdam, twice with Wolfsburg, and once with Lyon. She also lost in the final with PSG. Now retired and still just 29, what does she do now? She’s an artist with her own studio.
The chamber in Nyon is visible as Nadine Kessler, head of women’s football for Uefa takes on the role that used to be Gianni Infantino, back when he was the European governing body’s answer to Henry Kelly before becoming chief suit for Fifa. Rightly, she celebrates the summer’s Women’s World Cup and proclaims the success of last season’s Champions League which was “record-breaking” in terms of crowds and TV audiences. The challenge, she reminds, is to beat Lyon.
Uefa get us underway with some catchy Euro electropop, with a montage of all the clubs in the final 32 and the cities they come from. Any Uefa or Fifa event is a celebration of hands being reached across land and sea.
The countdown to the draw has begun…
Some further details from Uefa on the tournament.
- Lyon have won the title four years in a row and six times overall, both records
- Wolfsburg and Arsenal (ending a five-year absence) are the other former winners involved while Barcelona, Paris and Fortuna are past finalists
- Brøndby are in the knockout rounds for a record 16th time; they, Fortuna and Lyon have featured in all 11 seasons of the round of 32 under this format
- Piteå, Lugano and Chertanovo will make their debuts in this round while fellow newcomers Braga came through the qualifying round
- Albania and Kosovo are represented in the round of 32 for the first time
- Anderlecht are also making their knockout bow
Round of 32: 11/12 & 25/26 September 2019
Round of 16 draw: 30 September 2019, Nyon
Round of 16: 16/17 & 30/31 October 2019
Quarter-final & semi-final draw: 8 November 2019, Nyon
Quarter-finals: 24/25 March & 1/2 April 2020
Semi-finals: 25/26 April & 2/3 May 2020
Final (Viola Park, Vienna): 24 May 2020
Here’s a report from last season’s final.
Unlike the men’s version of the Champions League, this is a straight knockout and all the better for that. It’s sudden death for everyone involved.
Who can stop Lyon? This season represents the chance to emulate the Real Madrid team of 1956 to 1960, who won the old European Cup five years in succession. They will be the team to avoid for the rest; Lyon won May’s final by beating Barcelona 4-1 and at a canter. Arsenal, last season’s Women’s Super League champions, are unseeded and face the possibility of pulling Lyon. Manchester City, who came second in England, are seeded.
How does the draw work? From Uefa:
- The 16 sides with the highest coefficient are seeded and placed in a separate pot to the unseeded teams, with each tie containing one side from each pot
- No club can meet a team from their own association. Any other restrictions will be announced ahead of the draw
- The seeds will play the second leg at home
- Matches 11/12 & 25/26 September
And here are the final 32, ranked by Uefa coefficient
Lyon (FRA, holders)
Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)
Bayern München (GER)
Slavia Praha (CZE)
Manchester City (ENG)
Fortuna Hjørring (DEN)
FC Zürich (SUI)
Glasgow City (SCO)
Atlético Madrid (ESP)
Sparta Praha (CZE)
FC Twente* (NED)
St. Pölten (AUT)
ŽFK Spartak* (SRB)
FC Minsk* (BLR)
*Came through qualifying.