WCL draw groups Bayern, PSG, Roma and Ajax; Chelsea and Real Madrid paired

October 20 – Defending champion Barcelona will face Benfica, Rosengard and Eintracht Frankfurt in the group stage of the Women’s Champions League following the draw made today.

The 16-team draw also reunited Chelsea and Real Madrid in a group for the second straight year. They will be joined by Paris FC and Hacken.

Paris Saint-Germain, the more heralded side from the French capital, was grouped with Bayern Munich, Roma and Ajax while eight-time champion Lyon will play Slavia Prague, Brann and St. Polten.

Lyon forward Ada Hegerberg, the first ever women’s Ballon d’Or winner in 2018, could face her sister Andrine, who plays for Brann.

The group stage is scheduled to start on November 14 and finish on January 31. Two teams advance from each group to the quarterfinals.

The final is scheduled for May 25 in Bilbao, Spain.

Group A: Barcelona, FC Rosengard, Benfica, Eintracht Frankfurt

Group B: Lyon, Slavia Prague, St Polten, SK Brann

Group C: Bayern Munich, Paris St-Germain, Roma, Ajax

Group D: Chelsea, Real Madrid, BK Hacken, Paris FC

In the current format, only the champions of Spain, Germany and France qualify automatically for the group stages – Chelsea did so this year by default with Barcelona already in as 2023 champions.

Manchester City manager Gareth Taylor said it was a shame” to “lose teams of a good standard” before the group stage while United boss Marc Skinner said it was “crazy” his side had to play PSG in second-round qualifying.

However, Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall, whose side lost to Paris FC in the first qualifying round this season, said English clubs “have not done well enough in Europe”.

“We’re the number four ranked league in Europe [in Uefa’s coefficient rankings],” said Eidevall. “Why are we number four? Because the English teams have done worse than the Spanish, the German and the French teams have been doing for the past five years. We can’t say that’s anyone else’s problem but our own. We need to improve the quality in the league so that when English teams are playing in Europe, they are winning their games.”

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