FIFA.com’s monthly review of the women’s game takes in a broad cross-section of news in what has been a massive period, highlighted undoubtedly by French side Lyon retaining their European crown in front of a record audience. There is also a look at international action as Germany and USA continued their winning form. May also proved a month for polishing silverware with a number of national champions crowned.
*National teams *
*Destination Sweden looms large *
Only two 2013 UEFA Women’s Euro qualifiers were played during the past month with June looming as a pivotal period in the campaign and a number of nations on the verge of booking passage to Sweden. Germany consolidated their position atop Group 2 with a comfortable 5-0 win against Romania, thanks to an Alexandra Popp hat-trick. Northern Ireland maintained their qualification ambitions with a 4-1 win against Bulgaria to sit three points off leaders Belgium. Meanwhile, 1982 FIFA World Cup™-winner Antonio Cabrini has been appointed the new coach of Group 1 table-toppers Italy, after Pietro Ghedin resigned to take charge of the Malta men's national team.
*Stars and Stripes maintain momentum *
World No1 USA continued their preparations for the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament London 2012 with a comfortable 4-1 win over China PR in front of a capacity 18,000 crowd in Chester. Alex Morgan scored two and Abby Wambach scored one as the pair continued their excellent international goal ratio. Following the match coach Pia Sundhage named an experienced 18-strong London 2012 squad with Sydney Leroux the only player not to feature at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup™™. 11 players are backing up from Beijing 2008, Shannon Boxx, Heather O’Reilly and Heather Mitts are set for their third Olympiad, while captain Christie Rampone will be playing in a USA record fourth Olympic Games.
*World stage beckons *
The 16-team field for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup was completed as Ghana and Nigeria comfortably booked their passage, the latter for a sixth successive time. The draw for the tournament will take place this Monday in Tokyo. Meanwhile, in the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, USA, Canada and Mexico claimed berths representing CONCACAF, leaving just two European teams to be confirmed in June.
*Club football *
*Lair’s Lyon unstoppable
*Olympique Lyon stormed to their second successive UEFA Women’s Champions League in a memorable finale to Europe’s premier women’s competition. Patrice Lair’s pink-clad star-studded side turned in an irresistible performance to prove too strong for FFC Frankfurt in front of over 50,000 spectators in Munich. Eugenie Le Sommer and player of the match Camille Abily scored in each half, with the pair also sharing the tournament’s top scorer crown with nine goals apiece.
*Turbine crowned German queens yet again
*The month of May proved a disappointing one for Frankfurt, who not only lost the European final but also the German Cup final, while domestic rivals Turbine Potsdam again claimed Frauen Bundesliga glory. The Berlin-based club won their fourth successive title - and sixth overall – although they were pushed to the wire with Wolfsburg falling just one point short of glory. Equatorial Guinea forward Anonman topped the goalscoring chart for the first time with 22 goals.
*New sensation in Barcelona
*Barcelona did what their male counterparts failed to do by winning the Spanish title. It was a first title for Barcelona, who will now have the chance to compete in the UEFA Women’s Champions League. Barcelona survived a season-long tussle with Athletic Bilbao and remained three points clear of their rivals thanks to a final-day win over Sporting de Huelva, with Marta Corredera hitting the only goal of the game.
*Blues see off Blues
*Joining Barcelona in the UEFA Women's Champions League next season will be England’s Birmingham City after the midlands club beat Chelsea on penalties to win their first FA Women's Cup. Chelsea led entering injury time only for Rachel Williams to equalise with Karen Carney again equalising in extra time, before prevailing 3-2 on penalties.
*After initially cancelling the Women’s Professional Soccer season for 2012 only, operations have now been permanently suspended. A number of former WPS clubs are participating in a new competition called WPSL Elite (Women’s Premier Soccer League) based on the east side of the country, with potential for future geographical expansion next year.
*The stat 50,212 *– A record attendance for a European women’s club match packed into Munich's Olympiastadion in the first major football match held at the famous venue since Bundesliga club Bayern Munich departed.
Quote of the month *“I think I surprised the girls before the game as I did something I never do: I kissed every one of them. It was to show that I was behind them. And it's true that I love them for the moments of pure joy they have given me for two years” Lyon coach Patrice Lair after winning the UEFA Women’s Champions League*