Women’ Champion League Draw Chelea, Real Madrid in Group of Death

The 2023-24 UEFA Women’s Champions League group stage kicks off next month.

As FC Barcelona, the reigning champs, prepares to defend their crown, a slew of Europes best female soccer teams prepare to try and take it from them.

On Friday, European soccer’s governing body conducted the group stage draw in Switzerland to pool 16 teams from across the continent into four groups.

Read on to learn more about each team, the group stage in general, and the supposed “Group of Death.”

How the group stage works

The draw split 16 contenders into four groups (A–D) of four teams. Group fixtures will run between Nov. 14 and Jan. 31, and the top two sides from each group will advance to the knockout phase.

In accordance with UEFA procedure, clubs from the same country cannot be drawn into the same group. Matches will be played on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and each team will play one home and away game against each club in its group.

Furthermore, a team will not play more than two home or away matches in a row, and each club must play all other teams in their group once before Matchday 4.

Meet the teams

GROUP A

FC Barcelona (Spain), Rosengård (Sweden), Benfica (Portugal), Eintracht Frankfurt (Germany)

FC Barcelona

UEFA coefficient ranking (end of 2022-23): 1

What to know:Last season’s winners automatically qualified due to being title holders. After Lyon and Umeå, they will aim to become the third club to make four finals in a row.

Rosengård

UEFA coefficient ranking (end of 2022-23): 13

What to know: The Swedish champions were eliminated last year in the group stage. Having reached six quarterfinals in the past 10 seasons, they’re no stranger to advancing past this stage of the competition.

Benfica

UEFA coefficient ranking (end of 2022-23): 23

What to know: Benfica have reached the final 16 three seasons in a row, the best record of any Portuguese team. Will this be the year the Portuguese champions make it out of the group stage?

Eintracht Frankfurt 

UEFA coefficient ranking (end of 2022-23): 32

What to know:This is the first time Eintracht Frankfurt has made the group stage in this format, but won four titles under the previous guise.

GROUP B

Olympique Lyonnais (France), Slavia Praha (Czech Republic), St. Pölten (Austria), SK Brann (Norway)

Olympique Lyonnais

UEFA coefficient ranking (end of 2022-23): 2

What to know:The French champions were eliminated in the quarter-finals last season, but have reached a record 10 finals and won eight of them. In the 2021-22 competition, they beat Barcelona 3-1 to seize their most recent title.

Slavia Praha

UEFA coefficient ranking (end of 2022-23): 11

What to know: Slavia, the Czech champions, became the first Czech team to make the new group stage last season, but reached the quarterfinals under the previous format.

St. Pölten

UEFA coefficient ranking (end of 2022-23): 14

What to know: The Austrian champions have never made it out of the group stage. It took seven tries before they reached the final 16, but now they’ve made it this far for the third time in four seasons. Could this be the year they advance further?

SK Brann

UEFA coefficient ranking (end of 2022-23): 64

What to know: The underdogs of the group, the Norwegian champions were the first Norwegian side to reach the group stage two seasons in a row.

GROUP C

FC Bayern Munich (Germany), Paris Saint-Germain (France), A.S. Roma (Italy), AFC Ajax (Netherlands)

Bayern Munich

UEFA coefficient ranking (end of 2022-23): 5

What to know: After reaching the semifinals in 2018-19 and 2020-21, the German champions recently made a handful of new signings in hopes of making the finals for the first time ever.

Paris Saint-Germain

UEFA coefficient ranking (end of 2022-23): 4

What to know: The French runners-up have often been in the shadows of Lyon. But having reached the quarterfinals eight times in nine seasons, they know what it takes to overcome some of the best teams in Europe.

A.S. Roma

UEFA coefficient ranking (end of 2022-23): 27

What to know: Last season, the Italian champions made it to the quarterfinals in their UWCL debut, knocking out fellow contenders Paris FC and Slavia Praha in the process. Could they do it again this time around?

AFC Ajax

UEFA coefficient ranking (end of 2022-23): 29

What to know: The Dutch side’s best showing in the tournament came in 2018-19, when they reached the round of 16. However, the Dutch champions are no strangers to winning matches, having won three league titles and five cups since being founded in 2012.

GROUP D

Chelsea FC (England), Real Madrid (Spain), BK Häcken (Sweden), Paris FC (France)

Chelsea FC

UEFA coefficient ranking (end of 2022-23): 6

What to know: Chelsea are unstoppable in England, and they’ll look to expand their reign to the rest of Europe. Their best finish in the competition was second place in 2021 after losing to one of their rivals, FC Barcelona.

Real Madrid

UEFA coefficient ranking (end of 2022-23): 12

What to know: Real Madrid features eight players who won the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup with Spain. Their previous European best came in 2021-22 when they made the quarterfinals, but the Spanish runners-up will look to make it farther this time around.

BK Häcken

UEFA coefficient ranking (end of 2022-23): 24

What to know: The Swedish runners-up haven’t made it past the group stage since the 2012-13 season, but will try their luck this time around.

Paris FC

UEFA coefficient ranking (end of 2022-23): 31

What to know: Under their former name Juvisy-Essonne, the French club’s best showing in the tournament was the semifinals in 2012-13. However, they’ve proved they can play with the best, having knocked out former champions Wolfsburg and Arsenal in this year’s UWCL preliminaries.

Is Group D the “Group of Death”?

Following the draw, it looks like group D could be the most challenging in this season’s competition. The group may not have some of UEFA’s highest-ranked squads, but there are certainly dark horses and top talent to watch.

Paris FC is a team that shouldn’t be underestimated. Eliminating both Arsenal and Wolfsburg to breach the group stage this year is no small feat. Moreover, with Nigerian World Cup star Chiamaka Nnadozie between the posts, it won’t be easy for opponents to find the net.

Chelsea, having topped the Women’s Super League the past four seasons, will look to add European silverware to their collection for the first time. The English champions have had bad luck when it comes to the UWCL trophy, but with names like Sam Kerr and Millie Bright, anything is possible.

Additionally, Real Madrid is another squad to avoid. Boasting prolific goal-scorer Hayley Raso, Colombian talent Linda Caidedo and Spain’s World Cup hero Olga Carmona, it’s tough to see how they won’t advance past the group stage. But with only two spots up for grabs, and with three of the four teams being serious title contenders (Swedish side Häcken’s chances of advancing are slim), it’s hard to predict what might happen with this group.

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