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)