November 29, 2022

It felt like two points dropped for the Gunners in Italy, while Chelsea beat Real Madrid and Barcelona put on a show at Camp Nou.
Whether it was holders Lyon finally getting three points, Juventus boss Joe Montemurro reuniting with some familiar faces at Arsenal, or two-time European champions Wolfsburg drawing with debutantes Roma, there were stories everywhere as the Women's Champions League returned this week.
Real Madrid's trip to Chelsea and Barcelona's clash with Bayern Munich at Camp Nou were among the headline fixtures for this round of games, with the Blues edging out a win first before Barca put the Germans to the sword a day later.
It means the UWCL group stages have hit the halfway point now, with each pool really starting to take shape before a trio of December matchdays decide who will make it through to the knockout rounds.
So, who is looking good going at the halfway point of the group stage?
GOAL breaks down this week's action below..
After starting just two of Chelsea's first six games this season, Sophie Ingle was in from the beginning for the fifth match in a row on Wednesday night as Real Madrid paid the Blues a visit – and she was superb.
With long-serving midfielder Ji So-yun leaving in the summer and Melanie Leupolz having just had her first child, there is more responsibility on those in the middle of the park at Chelsea this season.
Ingle is the most experienced of them all and has been leading the way with her recent form. That she broke the deadlock in the 2-0 midweek win might have been a little unexpected as she's certainly not the most prolific goal-scorer, but it was an opportunity for her to get more of the spotlight – and deservedly so.
"She's been brilliant," Chelsea boss Emma Hayes said afterwards. "She deserves a lot of credit for the work she's done. She pushed hard in pre-season. To get into this team is really tough.
"Sophie is a top professional. She’s at a better level than 12 months ago."
Real Madrid are in their second season in the Women's Champions League group stages, in what is just their third season overall. However, to watch them is to feel like there is so much more this squad can offer.
On Wednesday, they were locked into a very even battle with Chelsea but they struggled massively to create chances, despite possessing a whole host of talented attackers – from Spain striker Esther Gonzalez to Caroline Weir, the former Manchester City star who has been on fire since her summer switch.
After the game, head coach Alberto Toril expressed his happiness at his team being among the best 16 sides in Europe at such an early stage in the club's history.
Those quotes didn't go down well with the Madrid faithful and understandably so. This team will undoubtedly get better in the years to come, but they still have the ability right now to be a much more dangerous side than this.
Things are going quite well for Roma are the moment.
Four points clear of a usually-dominant Juventus in Serie A, they also beat the Bianconere earlier this month to win the Italian Super Cup, but perhaps their most eye-catching result of the season so far came on Wednesday.
Two-time European champions Wolfsburg were in town and they were only able to leave with a point after a tough 1-1 draw with the Italians, who are playing in the Champions League for the first time.
Roma turned plenty of heads when they took the lead with less than three minutes on the clock thanks to a ninth goal of the season for the lethal Valentina Giacinti.
They were pegged back by Ewa Pajor's equaliser but at the halfway point of the group stage they are in a great position to progress, only behind Wolfsburg on goal difference.
With just one defeat from their 16 games played this season, you wouldn't bet against them getting through, either.
It is an old cliché, but Barcelona's clash with Bayern Munich at Camp Nou on Thursday really was a game of two halves.
Alexander Straus looked to have set his team up brilliantly, pressing in the right moments, while goalkeeper Maria Grohs made some superb saves to keep the scores goalless.
However, everything changed after half-time. Within two minutes, Bayern switched off at the back and Barca were able to take the lead with ease due to a lack of marking.
With the German side then needing to push forward to get back into the match, their hosts took advantage.
Aitana Bonmati made it two with a sweet strike, but one Grohs will feel she could've done better with, before Claudia Pina fired a rocket into the top corner – albeit with little pressure on her.
Whether it was a lack of concentration after the break that cost them, tiredness after the demands of trying to remain so resilient or just the inevitability of Barca, it will be feel like a bitterly frustrating defeat for Bayern, given they looked so solid during the opening 45 minutes.
It's been a difficult year or so for Signe Bruun.
The forward joined eight-time European champions Lyon in the summer of 2021 after catching the eye at Paris Saint-Germain, but found herself struggling for game time and joined Manchester United on loan in January.
Sadly, her woes continued in England, this time due to injuries, with her only able to make seven appearances for the Red Devils, scoring no goals.
After being part of the Denmark team that crashed out in the group stages of this summer's Euros, Bruun returned to Lyon hoping to get back to the level that earned her the move to France in the first place.
On Thursday, she put in a performance that might prove to be a catalyst for her, scoring twice in Lyon's 3-0 win away at Zurich. They are her first goals of the season for her club.
Hit by an injury crisis, the European champions had won just two of their last five games ahead of that match and had found goals particularly difficult to come by, so a forward hitting a purple patch would be perfect for them, too.
A point away at Juventus is not a bad result in any context, especially with Arsenal remaining top of a very competitive UWCL group – featuring holders Lyon – after getting a point in Turin.
However, there will be a feeling of disappointment after this 1-1 draw, as the chances the Gunners didn't take were huge.
Stina Blackstenius had two big ones in the first half, clipping the woodwork with the first before being denied one-on-one for the second.
Blackstenius created a good opportunity for Caitlin Foord before the break, with her inches away from converting the cross, and after the two sides exchanged blows in the second period, Foord could have won it late on but took a poor touch through on goal.
Injuries have rocked Arsenal in recent weeks and they were hit with more big news on Tuesday after England star Beth Mead ruptured her ACL.
It means they've got a very depleted bench at the moment – one which featured two goalkeepers, two defenders, two young Academy players, an out-of-favour Mana Iwabuchi and five fewer names than Juventus' on Thursday.
Jonas Eidevall's team are in pole position in Group C but getting to the knockouts is still going to be a huge task, particularly with so many key players on the sidelines.
The Gunners will hope, then, that those missed chances in Turin won't come back to haunt them.

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