Familiar faces force the pace
© AFP

Europe’s elite took centre stage as the UEFA Women’s Champions League resumed, and the traditional heavyweights didn’t disappoint. Reigning champions Olympique Lyon, and last year’s finalists Turbine Potsdam, both have a foot in the last four ahead of this week’s return legs, as do England's remaining representatives, Arsenal. It proved a good week for Potsdam who again have control of the Bundesliga following their recent erratic form. While there is a new leader in Italy as Sassari Torres regained top spot amid a flurry of goals.

UEFA Women’s Champions League: Favourites to the fore
Europe’s premier club competition has recommenced following its winter break with the quarter-final stage held last week. First-leg action saw some familiar faces impress, most notably holders Olympique Lyonnais and Germany’s Turbine Potsdam, with the pair both seeking to win through to a third final in a row. Lyon’s star-studded side have one foot in their fifth successive semi-final after overpowering Denmark’s Brondby 4-0 at Stade de Gerland, where only a string of fine saves from Stina Petersen kept the scoreline down.

Turbine Potsdam turned in a high-energy display to see off Russian side Rossiyanka, despite the visitors fielding a talented international line-up, including Brazilian stars Ester, Aline, Fabiana and Cristiane. However, the home side, inspired by the dynamic running of Swedish wide midfielder Antonia Goransson, were rarely troubled in a 2-0 win. England’s Arsenal enjoy a handy 3-1 margin in their tie against Gothenburg ahead of this week’s return leg. Swedish compatriots Malmo are perhaps better placed to advance after securing a 1-0 margin against German heavyweights FFC Frankfurt, thanks to a first-half goal from Icelandic midfielder Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir.

Germany: Turbine powering on
Following their midweek UEFA Women’s Champions League victory, Turbine Potsdam enjoyed a good weekend on the domestic front by defeating championship rivals VFL Wolfsburg, while both of their nearest challengers – FCR 2001 Duisburg and FFC Frankfurt – failed to win. Midfielder Stefanie Draws scored the all-important goal in a 1-0 victory as the Berlin club skipped two points clear of Duisburg who could only draw 2-2 against SC Freiburg. Wolfsburg and Frankfurt, who suffered a shock 1-0 home loss to Hamburg SV, are a further five points adrift and, with only seven rounds remaining, are starting to see their title aspirations slip away.
Top three: FFC Turbine Potsdam (38), FCR 2001 Duisburg (36), 1. FFC Frankfurt/VFL Wolfsburg (31)

Italy: New frontrunner amid goal rush
The long-running three-way race for the championship remains tighter than ever as Sassari Torres took full advantage of a midweek match to leapfrog their nearest rivals into top spot. A 2-0 win against Riviera di Romagna and a 3-0 scoreline against Chiasiellis lifted the Sardinians ahead of Brescia on goal difference. Brescia, who are hunting their maiden title, cruised past Como 6-1, while Bardolino Verona had an even easier time dispensing with Roma 8-1, as Melania Gabbiadini and the league’s leading goalscorer, Brazilian Fatima Da Rocha, both hit doubles.
Top three: Sassari Torres (47), ACF Brescia (47), Bardolino Verona (46)