Euro Roundup: Champions, Champions League and WSL Restructure

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Before you go ahead and read this article, please note that the Euro Roundup will be taking a little break over the summer period with the majority of leagues finished. There will be a roundup looking at the next round of results from World Cup Qualifications next month but that will be it for a while up until September.

Champions

As previously mentioned, many leagues have finished or are nearing their conclusion with the champions already crowned. In England, WSL1 was won by the unbeaten Chelsea. It was close between them and Manchester City with not much between the two. Ultimately it was points dropped by City late on in the season that cost them the title and a second full season in a row with an unbeaten side winning the title. Chelsea’s unbeaten run almost came to a halt in the last match with Liverpool taking an early 2-0 lead but 20 minutes from the end, Chelsea scored three in reply and secured that run. They also won the FA Cup this season with this being the second time they’ve won the double.

In Spain, it was another close-fought title race between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona. Atletico Madrid just managed to claim the title with Barcelona one point behind. Previous matches between the two in the league saw them evenly matched as both matches ended in 1-1 draws. Barcelona’s two losses let them down with those coming against Granadilla Tenerife Sur and Athletic Club. Atletico’s only loss came against Rayo Vallecano.

In France, it was business as usual with Lyon blowing the opposition away. At the time of writing this, they are still unbeaten in the league with one game to go. They’ve recorded 20 wins and one draw. That draw came against PSG on May 18th. Lyon faces Rodez on the final day. Unfortunately for PSG, they are eight points behind with 17 wins, two draws, and two losses.

German giants Wolfsburg won yet another title with the same point difference but still have two games to go. This is their second time of winning it twice in a row after the 2012/13 and 2013/14 wins. Between these feats, Bayern Munich achieved a double title win and that is who Wolfsburg travel to next.

Italy saw the closest title race in Europe with the title having to be decided in a championship decider match between Juventus and Brescia. The two teams finished the Series A season with identical records, 20-2. They each won against each other in the league with Juventus’ second loss against Fiorentina and Brescia’s against Mozzanica. Like the title race, the decider was a very close one with neither team scoring in 120 minutes. It took penalties to separate the two and Juventus triumphed winning it 5-4.

Champions League

Lyon triumphed over Wolfsburg in what was a crazy ending to the Champions League. That was Lyon’s fifth title and third in a row. Both teams looked equally matched in the regulation 90 minutes with chances for both.

It all started to change when Pernille Harder put Wolfsburg ahead just a few minutes into extra time. After being put through a grueling cup match just days before, this was a bit of a surprise and they looked to hold on to the lead. It didn’t take long for the match to implode on itself. Alexandra Popp committed a late challenge and having been booked already, she received her second one and was sent off. Lyon immediately pounced on this with Amandine Henry equalizing and Le Sommer putting them ahead just moments later. The win was pretty much wrapped up when Ada Hegerberg scored a record 15th goal of the UWCL campaign. Lyon added another late one in the 2nd half of extra time with Camille Abily getting the perfect send-off as she scored in her 81st and final European game.

WSL Restructure

The WSL started up in 2011 with a second league being added on in 2014. The next big change from then on was the recent 2017/18 season. The WSL had always been a summer season as it fitted in well with having the league as its own entity and filling a gap between normal seasons elsewhere. It changed to a winter season recently to put it in line with most other UK leagues as well as the European calendar. This was to help the top teams compete more in Europe as well as helping the national team. Not long after the season started, the news dropped that there would be a restructuring of the top four tiers which rendered promotion and relegation obsolete for this season.

The restructure seems minimal in Tier3  and Tier 4. That’s where the Women’s Premier League is and it will be renamed to the Women’s National League. The top Tier 1 and Tier 2 are where the main change is happening. WSL1 will revert back to the original name of WSL and WSL2 will become the Championship. There have already been licenses issued to various teams in both. All but 1 team in WSL1 has been granted a new one, with Sunderland waiting til the second round of application and Brighton going up from WSL2 to WSL1 after being granted a Tier 1 license.

There are seven confirmed teams in the Championship. Oxford United and Watford didn’t apply first time around but they could be included in the second round. The winner of the WPL Play-Off Final between Blackburn Rovers and Charlton Athletic will be in the Championship next season subject to the license. This leaves four spots in WSL and four spots in Tier 2. One of those four in Tier 2 looks to be filled by Manchester United who are starting a women’s team again but look to be taking it seriously with Casey Stoney set to become the manager.

The teams in both tiers will be confirmed on Monday, May 28th, so when you are reading this, you may be able to find out just who is in and who is out.

Image courtesy of Corri Goates