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The UWCL Final

Updated: May 31, 2023

Girls Support Girls - So go watch the UWCL Final!

What is the UWCL?

UCWL is short for UEFA (European) Women’s Champions League. The league was founded in 2001 under the name of UEFA Women’s Cup as an answer to the American WUSA. It is the only Europe-wide women’s league. After a few rule changes on participation and tournament systems and the name change in 2010, the current mode was determined:

After qualifiers, 16 teams play at a group stage in four teams. This year 71 clubs from 49 countries participated. Depending on how high a country is ranked by UEFA, some countries are allowed more participating clubs than others. Last year's champion is automatically in the group stage. After the group stage, the top two teams from each group move on to the quarter final. The quarter final and the semi final are played with two legs each, the final is a single match.

This system strives to make women’s soccer more equal since there are a few countries that dominate the soccer landscape. UEFA’s mission is to give smaller countries and teams a chance to participate, create revenue and promote themselves - and ultimately grow the game - while still making it interesting and preventing too many blowout losses in later stages.

It is notable that England as the birthplace of soccer has only ever produced one winner with Arsenal in 2007, while there have been nine wins by German teams and eight wins by French club Olympique Lyon.

There has also been a notable shift in European women’s soccer; departments that developed out of a club with a strong men’s team became more dominant, an example is FC Barcelona, while teams with a first league women’s team and a lower class male team couldn’t compete financially (like Swedish Umea IK).

On the one hand, this development is positive since there is more funding in the sport and it’s shaping to be more professional. On the other hand, this means that traditional women’s soccer clubs, who’s male team isn’t very successful, fall by the wayside, as can be seen by former champions FCR Duisburg, who went bankrupt, or Turbine Potsdam, who were the women’s talent factory in Germany and will play in the second league the upcoming season after being relegated.

Courtesy of UEFA Twitter

This season’s final will be held on June 3 in the Philips Stadium in Eindhoven, Netherlands. The German VfL Wolfsburg will take on Spanish FC Barcelona Feminí. The 34,120 tickets are already sold out, a first for a UWCL final. Wolfsburg’s manager, Tommy Stroot, commented: "It highlights the amazing and rapid development of women’s soccer.” He urges the use of even bigger stadiums in the future as the sport, the league and the media attention grow. However, this is by far not the biggest crowd the Women’s Champions League has seen to date; Last year, Barcelona had an attendance of over 90, 000 fans on a Wednesday in the quarter final against Real Madrid.

The Underdog: VfL Wolfsburg

Wolfsburg already experienced huge success this season, seeking to win the treble. A treble is achieved by winning the Champions League, the respective national league and the national cup. Wolfsburg already won the German cup and are looking to win the league on the last game day, sitting only two points behind first place Bayern München, Arsenal’s opponent in the quarter final.

Courtesy of Annagret Hilse

While Wolfsburg’s games against Arsenal were quite close and not their best work; coined by passes that did not connect and lack of precision, the Germans still got the win and are looking to double down in the game against Barcelona.

Alexandra Popp, Wolfsburg’s captain, is one of the key players for the success, she brought some much needed stability. As a long time national player and captain, the 32 year old has a lot of experience with playing under pressure.

Courtesy of Annagret Hilse

The Juggernaut: FC Barcelona

Contrasting Wolfsburg, Barcelona has already won their league, cementing their 28 wins in 30 games with a goal average of nearly four goals. They lost out on the national cup, the Copa de la Reina, the Queens’ cup, having used a player who was not eligible to play and as a consequence were disqualified which destroyed their treble hopes. They were the favorites to take the trophy home, having won it the last three years.

Courtesy of Xavier Ferrandiz

However, Barcelona also had an excellent run in the Champions League in the past few years, winning their first title in 2021 and only losing in the final to record champion Olympique last year. They play with lots of possession, many passes and with a team first mentality as it was described by manager Jonatan Giraldez. Despite the club leading in most team statistics, they don’t have that one world class player that scores all the goals.

Courtesy of FC Barcelona Website

That is due to Alexia Puttella’s ligament tear that left the two time Women’s World Footballer sitting out the entire season. Although one has to mention their goal keepers’ stellar performances, with only eight goals against in 10 games in the Champions League.

While many would pick Barcelona to be the favorite due to their enormous success and dominant playing style, Wolfsburg’s Popp said that “This year is our turn. And the best thing is: In my opinion, we haven’t played up to our qualities yet.” No matter how it will turn out, this final will be an interesting game between two of Europe’s top teams and most talented players. Definitely worth the watch!

It will be broadcasted globally through the streaming service DAZN and can be watched for free on their youtube channel.

So, set your reminders for 11 am EST this Saturday and enjoy some soccer!

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