The first knockout stages of the Women’s Champions League began this week.
The structure of the competition has changed slightly this year, after UEFA reviewed the framework to work around the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic across Europe.
Normally, the initial rounds follow a format of mini-tournament football, hosted by a nominated country that has a team competing at that stage. However, to eliminate some of the inherent risks and costs of that, the new format is based on two qualifying rounds that are played as single-leg knockout games.
The first round was completed this week, which saw 40 European club outfits cut to 20. The draw, which was made on Friday, will now see the second round of qualification matches completed on November 18-19.
Those 10 successful clubs will then join the 22 teams who have already qualified for the “round of 32”. These games will be squeezed in before Christmas and will return to the ordinary format of a two-legged home and away tie.
Astonishingly, Glasgow City were still required to enter the competition at the early stages, despite being in last year’s quarter-finals and having competed in the tournament for the last decade. Not only that, their current coefficient is higher than eight of the club sides who already received a bye to the last 32.
They only very narrowly missed out on the automatic qualification and based on their very respectable coefficient, they are top seeds for these early rounds.
However, the game last week proved a more tricky opponent than what they would have hoped for. They were drawn against Peamount United from Ireland, a side who boast a number of Irish internationals and have previous experience in the tournament.
Although City had home advantage and controlled the game, clear cut chances were few and far between. They certainly dominated but in a game like that, they would have been frustrated at the lack of quality in the final third, and I would say the 0-0 score line after extra time was a reflection of just that.
📺 | HIGHLIGHTS
— Glasgow City FC 🧡🖤 (@GlasgowCityFC) November 6, 2020
They do have history in shoot-outs, a positive one at that. Great memories of last year’s competition saw Jo Love take the fifth and decisive one to send them on to the last eight. This time around she had the opportunity to do the exact same, however would be the only City player to see her penalty saved.
Fortunately, goalkeeper Lee Alexander would be in the mood to be the hero and she saved a second penalty on the night to push City across the line in sudden death.
City will now face Icelandic side Valur at home later this month. A tie that will require a little more consistency in a few more of the City team’s performances. The lack of league games up to this point might explain some rustiness, but there will be no excuses once the fixture rolls around.