FIFA.com’s regular look at women’s club football takes in competitions from three different continents, each at a variety of junctures. Action in Europe was highlighted by the UEFA Women’s Champions League where there were varied results for the continent’s traditional elite. Meanwhile, in Sweden the fairytale run of Eskilstuna may have suffered a mortal blow as the finale looms large. There is also a look at the opening of a new stage in Japan, plus a fresh campaign underway in New Zealand.
*UEFA Women’s Champions League: Varied results as gap narrows *This season’s edition of the UEFA Women’s Champions League is gathering momentum as the Round of 32 commenced last week, with the return encounters to take place over the coming days. There was a diverse range of results for Europe’s most well-known clubs, and several tight contests indicates the gap is narrowing across the continent. Most notably, 2014 champions Wolfsburg were held to a scoreless draw at unheralded Serbian club Spartak Subotica. Spanish champions Barcelona were also held on their travels east, 1-1 against ambitious Kazakhstan outfit BIIK-Kazygurt. Indeed, it was a modest matchday for Spanish representatives with Atletico Madrid losing 2-0 at home against Russia’s Zorky.
At the other end of the spectrum French pair Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain both enjoyed 6-0 away wins in Poland and Romania against Medyk Konin and Olimpia Cluj respectively. Holders Frankfurt were made to work hard to overcome Standard Liege 2-0 in Belgium, while perhaps the shock of the round was in Prague as Slavia stunned Danish queens Brondby 4-1.
*Sweden: Fairytale ending in doubt *
The Swedish title race has taken yet another twist with Eskilstuna United seeing their unexpected charge suffer a massive blow in the penultimate round. Eskilstuna, who were only promoted to the top flight in 2014, seemed almost certain for an unlikely title win just a few weeks ago. However, Rosengard are now in the box seat for a third successive crown after overhauling their rivals to take a one point lead with a single match to play. The champions had no trouble dispensing with AIK 5-0 on the back of doubles from Natasha Andonova and substitute Malin Gunnarsson. Eskilstuna stumbled a few hours later when they took the field drawing 0-0 at third-placed Linkoping who in fact dominated the encounter, in what was Charlotte Rohlin’s last home game of her career.
*Top three: Rosengard (48 points), Eskilstuna (47), Linkopings (44) *
*Japan: Charge towards season finale *
The second stage of the Japan season saw the top six sides compete in a mini-league format, with each boosted by bonus points ranging from six to one depending on their status at the end of the regular league season. Top-ranked side NTV Beleza continued their winning ways with a 2-0 home win over Vegalta Sendei, while perennial rivals INAC Kobe Leonessa were held 1-1 at JEF United.
*New Zealand: Fresh ambitions *While the New Zealand national U-20 side were busy in Tonga winning their way through to the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea, the new league season kicked-off on the home front. Two-time defending champions Mainland Pride scored two second half goals to open with a hard-fought victory over the New Zealand Development side. The NZ Development squad are aged 16 or under and are preparing for their tilt at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Jordan 2016. A strong looking Northern Football have made the early running and lead the table on goal difference after they claimed a 4-0 victory over Football South on the back of a Katie Rood brace.