A number of the game’s biggest established stars as well as several freshly-minted talents are show in the new UEFA Women’s Champions League group stage.
We profile the players likely to shine in the second set of matches.
Sam Kerr (Chelsea, forward)
Sam Kerr has lived up to the hype since Chelsea won the race to take her to Europe in January 2020, having been a prolific striker both in the United States and her homeland Australia. She has cracked along at pretty much a goal a game at the Blues, and on Matchday 1 produced a sublime lob in the 3-3 draw with Wolfsburg – against whom she also struck in last season’s two quarter-final legs. Usually deployed centrally in Chelsea’s all-star attack, the 28-year-old Kerr’s skill is matched by her pace and finishing.
Arianna Caruso (Juventus, midfielder)
The first player to reach 100 appearances for Juventus, who were founded in 2017, the 21-year-old began the opening week of the UEFA Women’s Champions League group stage by signing a contract until 2024, the longest in the club’s history. Then, two days later, she let fly a brilliant volleyed goal in their 3-0 victory at Servette. She is a crucial part of both Juve and Italy’s midfield.
Melvine Malard (Lyon, forward)
Malard wrote her name into history on Matchday 1, her strike against Häcken making her the first scorer in the new UEFA Women’s Champions League group stage. The 21-year-old Lyon youth product broke into the first team at 18, helped France win the 2019 Women’s U19 EURO, then came off the bench in this competition’s 2020 final to contribute to OL’s fifth straight triumph. A fast-moving intelligent attacker, comfortable on the left or in the middle, Malard got four goals in Europe last term as a regular starter and now has two more this campaign.
Cloé Lacasse (Benfica, forward)
Lacasse’s hat-trick against Twente sealed Benfica’s group place, the first time a Portuguese team have been among the last 16 in UEFA women’s club competition in any format and capping the Eagles’ remarkable rise in just three years of existence. Canada’s Lacasse first landed in Europe in 2015 with Iceland’s ÍBV and after four goal-filled years she moved on to Benfica in time for their maiden top-flight season. The 28-year-old has scored at more than a goal a game for the Eagles and came close to earning them a shock opening group win against Bayern.