UEFA Women’s Champions League semifinal action concludes on Monday as Arsenal welcomes Wolfsburg for the second leg at Emirates Stadium in London, England. The two sides played to a 2-2 draw in the first leg as the Gunners rallied from two first-half goals by Wolfsburg. The goal aggregate is level between both teams heading into the second leg and the winner of the game will face Barcelona in the Champions League final on June 3. A draw in regulation would mean extra time with penalty kicks also in play. Fans can watch this huge match live on CBS Sports Golazo Network.
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Arsenal: The team have been dealing with significant injuries all season. They’ve been without Viviane Miedema and Beth Mead and recently lost vital players Kim Little and Leah Williamson to season-ending injuries. Despite navigating the rotating injury bug, Arsenal’s ability to rally and compete in the face of adversity is more than admirable and it’s led to results. Manager Jonas Eidevall has full belief in the squad ahead of their biggest Champions League match to date.
“It’s not about me being confident or not confident, it’s about believing that we can do it, and we are going to put everything out there to do it,” said Eidevall. “It is one game between us and a dream, so let’s bring everything we have onto the pitch and leave it there.”
The group will continue to rely on attacking form by Stina Blackstenius and physicality from Katie McCabe, but they’ll also have an added boost from the stadium environment. The club have announced a sellout of Emirates Stadium with an expected capacity crowd.
“Our fans have been nothing short of brilliant this season. At times, when it has been tough results-wise, they have never gone quiet,” Eidevall said of Arsenal fans. “They have always been there supporting us. They have been absolutely magnificent. If they can be just as magnificent [on Monday], that is going to be a big boost for us.”
VfL Wolfsburg: The Frauen-Bundesliga side is no stranger to the injury report. The team has eagerly been awaiting the return of veteran Alexandra Popp, and she could be available in Monday’s semifinal. Manager Tommy Stroot has said most of his roster are locked in a ready to go.
“Lena Lattwein and Katarzyna Kiedrzynek are the only players not available to us,” said Stroot. “Everyone else can play and has made the steps we’d hoped. That applies in particular to Alexandra Popp. She completed her final training session. We see her as a leader and an absolutely important factor in front of such a backdrop. As a group, we will benefit from her playing.”
Ewa Pajor leads the Champions League in total goals with nine goals scored this campaign. She and Sveindís Jónsdóttir provided the goals in the first leg, but Wolfsburg were rattled by Arsenal’s response during the second half, and they’ll need to silence the crowd early in the game if possible.
“We’re prepared for anything. There will be different phases in this game. A match like this can change at any moment with us or our opponents taking the lead,” Stroot said. “We’ve prepared a relatively large number of scenarios, but we’ve already experienced many ourselves. That’s an advantage compared to last year. We’ve matured and have more alternative ways to play.”
Series history is on Wolfsburg’s side, but Arsenal are carrying more momentum. It’ll all come down to high drama in penalty kicks with Wolfsburg advancing on a strong goalkeeping performance by Merle Frohms. Pick: Arsenal 1, Wolfsburg 1 (Wolfsburg win in PKs)