Bayern Munich and Arsenal will play in the first leg of this season’s Women’s Champions League quarter-finals as the competition reaches the knockout stage.
The group stage returned in December, leaving the last eight to wait to resume their respective quests for European glory.
Bayern are a rising force in Germany and Europe, having reached the semi-finals of the competition in two of the last four seasons. Arsenal, meanwhile, are playing in the Champions League for only the third time since 2014 but, like Bayern, reached the quarters last season.
Arsenal had topped their group earlier in the season, thanks largely to a 5–1 thrashing of defending champions Lyon. Bayern also enjoyed a strong group stage, having handed Barcelona their only defeat in any competition since the previous season’s final, but finished second on goal difference.
Former Manchester City midfielder Georgia Stanway is a very familiar face to Arsenal fans, but she says she has grown and developed more than expected since moving to Bayern last summer for a new challenge.
Most recently Linda Dallmann has been ruled out for the rest of the season after suffering an ankle injury earlier this month. Fellow Germany international Giulia Gwinn is out with an ACL tear, but Caroline Simon is back in the squad.
Arsenal did not include veteran Jodie Taylor in their Champions League squad when she returned to the club last week – the deadline for the squad had already passed.
Stina Blackstenius could return to the starting XI after being restricted to a 30-minute cameo in the last game against Reading a week ago after an illness. Freida Manam, Arsenal’s hero against Lyon, is likely to return in midfield, with Leah Williamson returning to defence.
The double loss of Beth Mead and Vivian Miedema will still be felt massively. Losing versatile defender Steph Catley in recent weeks has also been a blow.
Bayern have won 12 games in a row in all competitions coming into it, a run that includes wins over Barcelona and home rivals Wolfsburg.
Arsenal have found themselves in good form after a poor start to 2023, registering back-to-back wins over Chelsea, to win the Conti Cup, Liverpool and Reading.
But having missed two of their most potent goal threats in Munich and Arsenal, the advantage here – and perhaps for the entire tie – will have to stay with Bayern. It is also no small matter of returning to the Allianz Arena for the first time after defeating Barcelona, which will bring back good memories.