A few months ago, this would have been the marquee fixture of UEFA Women's Champions League's Group D. Real Madrid heading to Stamford Bridge to take on one of last year's semifinalists, Chelsea Women. Now, one club is playing to advance while all the other is merely competing for pride.
Alberto Toril's Las Blancas were ousted out of the competition on their home turf back in December. It means no quarterfinals for the second consecutive season. A penalty by Paris FC's Gaetane Thiney sealed Madrid's fate. The Spanish side's attack was almost non-existent that night. Even with more possession, Toril's team struggled to break down Sandrine Soubeyrand's back four. Madrid finished those 90 minutes with its lowest expected goals total so far in its European journey. They'll head on the road to London for the second straight year, only this time with much less to play for.
The last time these two clubs met up in this competition, Las Blancas' two shots on goal were enough to muster a 2-2 draw at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano. We all remember how it went down. The Niamh Charles show was overshadowed by two brutal refereeing decisions which forced the west Londoners to settle for a point. A contentious penalty call was followed up by an offside flag that would have been reserved if VAR was in play. Madrid left that night knowing that it escaped by the skin of its teeth.
It has been all downhill from there as Madrid lost five out of its last seven contests in 2023. A lot of it had to do with the growing injury list.
The club has been without top scorer Signe Bruun since November after she sustained a concussion. Toril has expressed that she has been training with the team, but her status is up in the air for Wednesday. Key assets to the club like Naomie Feller, Linda Caicedo, and Sandie Toletti all missed time toward the end of 2023, but have recovered and are back in the team. Keep in mind, Caroline Weir and Carla Camacho both suffered ACL tears as the two are out for the rest of the campaign.