LONDON (AP) — Rematches are on tap in the Women’s Champions League semifinals this weekend.
Chelsea was embarrassed by Barcelona in the 2021 final, losing 4-0 after a first-half barrage by the Catalan club. Emma Hayes’ team will try to start better when Barcelona visits Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon for the first leg.
Two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas traveled with Barcelona but is not in the squad. The midfielder has returned to team training after tearing her ACL last July.
Injury-hit Arsenal plays at Wolfsburg on Sunday in their first-leg matchup a year after being eliminated by the German club in the quarterfinals. Wolfsburg also knocked out Arsenal in the semifinals a decade ago en route to its first title.
Chelsea is the only one of the remaining four that has not won the European competition. Wolfsburg is a two-time champion (2013, 2014), Barcelona has one title, and Arsenal won in 2007 when it was called the Women’s Cup.
The good news for the semifinalists is that eight-time champion Lyon is out.
The final is on June 3 in Eindhoven.
CHELSEA vs. BARCELONA
Chelsea should feel confident after defeating titleholder Lyon, though it took a late penalty and ultimately a shootout to get it done. Plus, the London club has lost just one of its past 14 home games in the Champions League.
Australia striker Sam Kerr leads Chelsea with five goals in the competition, and midfielder Pernille Harder could be back after a long layoff from hamstring surgery.
The hosts will have to figure out how to slow down a Barcelona team that has scored 35 goals in eight games — tops in the Champions League. The other three semifinalists are next best having each scored 21.
Barcelona midfielder Aitana Bonmati has netted a team-high five goals and provided six assists in those eight games.
In the Spanish league, Barcelona hasn’t lost since June 2021.
Barcelona reached the Champions League final last year in a bid for consecutive titles but lost to Lyon 3-1.
More than 25,000 tickets have been sold for Saturday’s game. The second leg is Thursday at Camp Nou.
WOLFSBURG vs. ARSENAL
Arsenal heads to Wolfsburg Arena after losing yet another star player to a knee injury.
The London club confirmed Friday that defender Leah Williamson needs surgery after tearing her ACL. Forwards Vivianne Miedema and Beth Mead had season-ending ACL injuries in December and November, respectively. Veteran midfielder Kim Little (hamstring) was also ruled out for the season this week.
Arsenal’s only other previous final was 2007 when it won the then-Women’s Cup.
Wolfsburg is trying to get to its sixth final. It won in back-to-back years (2013, ‘14) and was runner-up to Lyon in 2016, ’18 and ’20.
The German team has injury concerns, too, with midfielder Alexandra Popp and defender Marina Hegering doubtful for Sunday.
Wolfsburg forward Ewa Pajor is the competition’s leading scorer with seven.
In the quarterfinals last year, the teams drew 1-1 in London before Wolfsburg won 2-0 in the second leg with Jill Roord netting the decisive goal against her former team.
The second leg is on May 1 at Emirates Stadium.
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