Wolfsburg prepare to face Pernille Harder and Chelsea in Champions League

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Copyright: John Walton

Women’s Super League titleholders Chelsea take on reigning Frauen Bundesliga champions Wolfsburg in Hungary this afternoon.

Due to travel restrictions in and out of the UK and Germany, both fixtures will be played on neutral ground. The action will take place at Ujpest’s Szusza Ferenc Stadion in Budapest. The Blues have drawn as the home team in the first fixture that will take place on March 24th. Wolfsburg are the ‘hosts’ a week later on March 31st.

Wolfsburg‘s current form

After winning the double in Germany four years in a row, the Wolves have had a different season in the Bundesliga. They currently sit in second place, five points behind Bayern Munchen. For some, it was a surprise when Wolfsburg drew 1-1 with SC Freiburg back in October. A month later, the gap between the top German sides increased after Bayern won 4-1 at home when Wolfsburg came to visit.

Wolfsburg went through the last Bundesliga season unbeaten. They also won the DFB Pokal Cup and reached the Champions League final, where they lost 3-1 to multi-year winners from France, Olympique Lyonnais.

Besides the obvious loss in Pernille Harder, Wolfsburg have also been missing Ewa Pajor and team captain Alexandra Popp for large parts of the season due to injuries. Popp suffered a foot injury back in October and returned to full fitness after the Christmas break. Pajor had knee surgery last year and just recently returned.

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Pajor hasn’t started for her side since the final against Lyon back in August. Ironically enough, she returned to the game when Wolfsburg faced LSK Kvinner in the tournament’s Round of 16 a couple of weeks ago. She was subbed on for the final nine minutes of the first leg. Since then, the Poland international has appeared as a sub in two league games.

It will remain to be seen if Pajor will be fully fit to make her first appearance from the start this week.

Wolfsburg have been eager in the transfer windows. Newly added players include German international Kathrin Hendrich, Denmark international Sofie Svava, Sweden international Rebecka Blomqvist, the Norwegian international Katrine Saevik and Dutch international Shanice van de Sanden. Pauline Bremer, who joined the Wolves from Manchester City last season, is one of Wolfburg’s players that will continue to miss big parts of the season due to injury.

Wolfsburg have reached this stage of the UWCL tournament by winning the Round of 32 against ZFK Spartak on an aggregate score of 7-0. They beat LSK Kvinner in the Round of 16 with the aggregated score 4-0.

Chelsea’s current form

Chelsea are currently placed at the top of the WSL table. They have found their form in the league and are headed towards another league title. The Blues picked up their first silverware out of four possible when they beat Bristol City in the Continental Cup, winning 6-0.

Playing Everton away last Wednesday, they did not slow down their confident run. After what looked like a routine performance, they returned to London after having bagged a 3-0 win on Merseyside.

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Harder, Fran Kirby and Sam Kerr were ruthless and the attacking trident’s tempo was too much to handle for Everton, who had held up well defensively against Manchester City the round before.

Chelsea enter this stage of the UWCL after an aggregated 8-0 win against Benfica in the Round of 32 and an aggregated 3-1 win vs Atletico Madrid in the Round of 16.

Previous meetings

Chelsea’s last encounter with the German giants took place during the Champions League semi-finals back in Spring 2018. The first leg at Kingsmeadow ended 3-1 to Wolfsburg. The reverse fixture at AOK Stadion ended a 5-1 overall win for the Germans.

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Ones to watch and predicted lineups

Wolfsburg

Although Wolfburg’s squad has changed since 2018, they still have a team with a lot of depth and young talent. The Wolves have recruited wisely and a presumable starting XI will probably contain names such as Svenja Huth, Fridolina Rolfö and Ingrid Engen.

But the one Chelsea should be watching closely might be young German super talent Lena Oberdorf. She played a No.10 role against Werder Bremen last weekend when Wolfsburg collected a 7-0 win to reach the semi-finals in the DFB Pokal Cup.

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Oberdorf’s defending strengths and skills would most likely give her the role to make life hard for ex-Wolfburg playmaker Harder. She will wear blue for this encounter after leaving the Germans to join Chelsea back in September.

Along with Oberdorf’s talents to defend she will also most likely be the playmaker from the central part of the midfield to set up her teammates in good opportunities to score with the help of Engen and Popp.

Predicted XI

Katarzyna Kiedrzynek (GK)
Rauch, Janssen, Doorsun, Hendrich
Engen, Oberdorf, Popp
Huth, Blomqvist, Rolfö

Chelsea

Chelsea’s attack have been ruthless in their last games. During their visit at Walton Hall Park last Wednesday, they played their probably most effective system and line up, a 4-4-2 diamond. At the tip of this formation was Harder, an attacking threat for any side.

The Dane has adapted well to Chelsea’s playing style and system, although her former teammates will see her in a slight different role than when playing with them.

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Wolfsburg must be prepared to keep up with the pace of Kirby, Kerr and Harder when the two meet this afternoon.

Predicted XI

Berger (GK)
Charles, Bright, Eriksson, Andersson
Ingle, Ji, Leupolz
Harder
Kerr, Kirby

How to watch the game

This game will be broadcasted on BT Sport in the UK. It will also air on Chelsea’s website and the 5th Stand app for the rest of the world where the game is not broadcasted.

According to the Chelsea website, it will be broadcasted in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Mexico, Portugal, Sweden, Norway and Australia. Wolfsburg will stream this event live on their YouTube channel Wölfe TV and it will also be shown on the German channel Sport1.

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