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The Week in Women's Football: Bidding for World Cup; Champions League round-up

This week, we examine the recent 2023 Women's World Cup allocations by Confederation and the format for qualifying that FIFA announced just before Christmas. Not to get ahead of ourselves, but we also discuss early bidding interest in the 2027 Women's World Cup, which will probably be awarded in 2023. We also review December's Round of 32 two leg results from the 2020-21 UEFA Women's Champions League. We finally present the 2020 Canadian Player of the Year Award Winner, who plays in Europe and is a repeat winner.

FIFA Announces Confederation Allocations for 2023 Women's World Cup in Australia/New Zealand

FIFA announced on December 24, 2020 their confederation allocations for the 2023 Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, which will have 32 teams in the Finals for the first time, after 24 teams competed in 2015 in Canada and in 2019 in France. A unique playoff tournament will be held for the first time, rather than the inter-confederation play-ins for a final spot (with multiple ties common on the men's side and held between CONCACAF and CONMEBOL for the past two WWC events).

Direct slot allocation (29 of the 32 participation slots)—with comparison to 2019

  • 6 direct slots for the AFC (up from 5 in 2019)
  • 4 direct slots for CAF (up from 3 in 2019)
  • 4 direct slots for CONCACAF (up from 3.5 in 2019—only 3 qualified as Panama lost the inter-confederation play-in to CONMEBOL's Argentina)
  • 3 direct slots for CONMEBOL (up from 2.5 in 2019—3 qualified as Argentina defeated CONCACAF's Panama in the inter-confederation play-in.)
  • 1 direct slot for the OFC (the same as in 2019)
  • 11 direct slots for UEFA (up from 9 in 2019, including the host nation France)

The two host countries, Australia and New Zealand, will automatically qualify for the FIFA Women's World Cup Finals in 2023, and their slots have been taken directly from the quotas allocated to their confederations, namely the AFC and the OFC respectively.

With the addition of two more direct qualification spots to UEFA, that should help more debut qualifiers from the Confederation as well as countries from Central and Eastern Europe—we have noted late last year the improvement with countries such as Ukraine, Poland, Russia and the Czech Republic in the 2023 Women's EURO qualifiers.

Play-off tournament slot allocation (3)

The three remaining slots will be decided through a ten-team play-off tournament with the following play-off slot allocation:

  • 2 play-off slots for the AFC
  • 2 play-off slots for CAF
  • 2 play-off slots for CONCACAF
  • 2 play-off slots for CONMEBOL
  • 1 play-off slot for the OFC
  • 1 play-off slot for UEFA

Play-off tournament format:

Four teams will be seeded in the tournament based on the latest FIFA/Coca-Cola Women's World Ranking prior to the play-off draw, with a maximum of one seeded team per confederation.

  • In Group 1, comprising three teams, seed 1 will play for a place in the FIFA Women's World Cup against the winners of the knockout game involving the two unseeded teams in the group.
  • In Group 2, comprising three teams, seed 2 will play for a place in the FIFA Women's World Cup against the winners of the knockout game involving the two unseeded teams in the group.
  • In Group 3, comprising four teams, seeds 3 and seed 4 will play against the two unseeded teams in the group, with the two winners then playing for a place in the FIFA Women's World Cup.

Teams from the same confederation will not be permitted to be drawn in the same group. The play-off tournament will be used as a test event in Australia and New Zealand for the FIFA Women's World Cup, and both hosts will be invited to participate in friendly matches against the teams in Group 1 and Group 2, thereby ensuring that all teams play two matches during the play-off tournament.

The good thing about this format is that it gives more teams a second chance after their regional qualifying tournaments to make the tournament. Teams will have the opportunity to play national team games during the World Cup qualifying stage, which is a good thing and helps improve the national team programs. Holding the final qualifying tournament in Australia and New Zealand will give the hosts a dry-run test event (like the U-20 WWC has done in the past) but it will be an added expense for FIFA to transport teams from all over the world there. It also gives fans and media an opportunity to travel to and get to know the countries before 2023—assuming that we are not dealing with a global pandemic at that time. For the 10 team tournament, it is good that only one UEFA team will be involved, as they typically have more game experience than in other regions. We would expect the AFC and CONCACAF teams to be the favorites for a second spot, but we will have to evaluate the teams involved at the time.

One disappointment is that Oceania still has only one direct spot to the Finals—and again it is New Zealand qualifying as host. In 2027, the WWC will likely be held in another confederation so will Oceania have a second guaranteed spot or just another playoff spot besides the lone direct spot (pencil in New Zealand again)? Essentially every confederation benefits from an expanded Women's World Cup except Oceania. Though small in number (11 full members and 3 associates) we have discussed on multiple occasions over the past two years about the gap in competitiveness between the island nations of Fiji, Tahiti, etc., and New Zealand. The 2019 Women's World Cup Qualifying tournament in Noumea, New Caledonia in November/December of 2018 (which doubled as the Oceania Nations Cup) was probably the most competitive we have seen between the island nations. Fiji was vibrant in attack and was a surprise finalist but still lost 8-0 to the Football Ferns. The OFC needs to investigate whether they should do some sort of either a full merger or affiliation with the AFC to increase their development opportunities as the Women's World Cup expansion has not really been a step to help these nations advance.

WWC 2027 Early Bidding Interest

It was just this past summer that Australia and New Zealand were awarded hosting rights to the 2023 Women's World Cup, having surpassed Colombia, Brazil and Japan—the latter two were late withdrawals during the final decision stage. Already there is interest in hosting the 32 team tournament in 2027, with Holland, Germany and Belgium announcing their intent on October 19 to bid jointly, with more details to come. Germany did a very nice job of hosting the Women's World Cup in 2011 with 16 teams and Holland hosted an expanded 16 team Women's EURO Finals in 2017 to rave reviews. Belgium hosted the European Championship in 1972 while Germany staged it in 1988 and will again in 2024.

One nation expressing interest in hosting at this early stage is Chile, with their national team debuting in France last summer. Chile hosted the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup and 2015 U-17 men's World Cup as well as the 1962 World Cup. Italy has not formally announced a bid but, but with their invigorated women's league and top men's sides like AC Milan and Juventus now in the league, could host it, which would be their first women's FIFA event, thought they staged the men's event in 1934 and 1990.

There has been talk of another joint European bid from the Nordic nations of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Sweden hosted the Women's World Cup in 1995 (which was won by Norway). All these nations have strong women's leagues and a long-standing commitment to women's football and would be strong hosts, though the travel for fans, teams and media could be extensive, particularly between Finland and Iceland.

South Africa (which had submitted a bid for the 2023 Women's World Cup but withdrew it in December of 2019, and the USA (hosts in 1999 and 2003 and four time champions) have also been mentioned, though the Americans will co-host the men's World Cup with Mexico and Canada the year before—2026); we think it highly unlikely that the U.S. would host the two premier senior FIFA Finals in consecutive years.

2020-21 UEFA Women's Champions League Round of 32 Results

When reviewing the results from the 2020-21 UEFA Women's Champions League Round of 32 ties last month, first of all it was good to see the UEFA Women's Champions League back to two leg ties for the first time since October of 2019—during the 2019-20 tournament. The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated format changes and we saw the last 8 in a central location in Spain this past summer with one-game only per round, as well as this season's qualification legs being held on a one-leg knockout basis across two rounds. We look at the results from the 2020-21 UEFA Women's Champions League Round of 32 two-leg ties and we also highlight the rosters of those teams that have fallen in this stage, just as we have done during the two knockout games in this year's Qualifying Round (unless they were previously covered in our Qualifying round reviews; see week 1 and week 2.

Rosengard of Sweden 17 vs. Lanchkhuti of Georgia 0

Rosengard won the first leg in Georgia 7-0 on December 9, with six goals coming within the first 33 minutes of the match. Rosengard had an incredible 59 shots on goal (averaging one every 90 seconds) with 28 on target to 0 shots/shots on goal for Lanchkhuti. The Swedes held a 17-0 advantage in corners. In the second leg at home on December 16, Rosengard won 10-0 to take the tie 17-0 on aggregate. Jelena Cankovic of Serbia had a hat-trick while Swedish international forward Anna Anvegard (23), who moved to the club from Vaxjo in 2019, and Danish international Sanne Troelsgaard (32), who has 150 caps for her nation, joined Rosengard in 2017 and scored 21 goals in 86 games with the club, each had a brace. In the second game, Rosengard took 56 shots on goal to 0 for Lanchkhuti (with 28 shots on frame) and a 12-0 advantage on corners, with only one offsides call against Rosengard.

Wolfsburg of Germany 7 vs. Spartak Subotica of Serbia 0

Other solid first leg wins included Wolfsburg 5-0 victory away against Spartak Subotica of Serbia on December 9, with Hungarian international Zsanett Jakabfi (30) leading the way with a brace. Jakabfi has played with the German powerhouse for over a decade. Wolfsburg took the tie 7-0 on aggregate after a 2-0 win at home on December 16.

Chelsea of England 8 vs. SL Benfica of Portugal 0

Chelsea also won the opening leg away 5-0 over debutants Benfica of Portugal, with Fran Kirby (who has been on England's third and fourth place sides in the last two Women's World Cups, respectively) scoring a brace within the first 33 minutes of the match to drive Chelsea to a 4-0 half time lead. Chelsea dispatched Benfica in the second leg 3-0 on December 16 to take the tie 8-0. In the second leg, English international Beth England scored twice and Australian international Sam Kerr scored once.

Lillestrom LSK Kvinner of Norway 2 vs. Minsk of Belarus 1

Lillestrom LSK Kvinner of Norway took a 2-0 advantage from the away leg in Belarus on December 9 against Minsk. Lillestrom lost the home game to Minsk (1-0 on December 16) but took the tie 2-1 on aggregate goals. Anastasiia Skorynina (29) of Ukraine scored in the 72nd minute to give Lillestrom some worries in the last minutes of the game, but the Norwegians are safely on to the Round of 16 next March.

BIIK-Kazygurt of Kazakhstan 2 (advanced on away goals) vs. WFC-2 Kharkiv of Ukraine 2
WFC-2 Kharkiv of Ukraine won the first leg at home on December 9 (2-1), with goals from two of their Ukrainian internationals: Anastasia Filenko (30) and Veronika Andrukhiv (24) against BIIK-Kazygurt, who had a crucial away goal by Brenna Connell (25) of the U.S. to tie the game in the 50th minute, before Andrukhiv scored the winning goal 9 minutes later. Filenko has won league titles in Lithuania with Gintra, in Estonia with Parnu while also playing in Belarus and Russia. BIIK won the second leg on Tuesday December 15 (1-0) to take the tie on away goals after a 2-2 aggregate tie with Kharkiv. Kazakhstan international midfielder Kamila Kulmagambetova (25) scored the crucial goal in the 35th minute—she has won three consecutive league titles with BIIK. They have made the Round of 16 for the second consecutive season and third time in 14 appearances in the UEFA Women's Club Tournament dating back to 2004-05. Note: We will feature BIIK in the weeks to come, including thoughts from one of their imports and coach Kaloyan Petkov on the difficulties that the team faced while marooned in Turkey in the spring of 2020 during the initial worldwide shutdown from COVID-19. Petkov has also just been named as head coach of Kazakhstan's women's national team for the second time.

Fortuna of Denmark 6 vs. Pomurje of Slovenia 2

Fortuna of Denmark defeated Pomurje 3-0 on December 9 with American midfielder Machaela George (23) scoring twice. The ex-Santa Clara University star is set to join OL Reign for their 2021 campaign. Fortuna took the tie 6-2 on aggregate after a 3-2 win in Hjorring on December 16, with Fortuna scoring twice and Pomurje once in the last 10 minutes.

Olympique Lyon of France 6 vs. Juventus of Italy 2

A stirring match saw Lyon defeat Juventus 3-2 in Turin on December 9. Swedish international Lina Hurtig (who joined the Italian side this season after years at Linkoping at home) scored for Juventus to open the scoring in the 16th minute. France's international captain Wendie Renard tied the match in the 30th minute but 8 minutes later Juve was back in the lead through Lyon defender Canadian international Kadesha Buchanan's own goal (see more below). Goals from French international Melvine Malard (20) in the 68th minute and Japanese international and 2011 Women's World Cup winning midfielder Saki Kumagai in the 88th minute rescued Lyon. In the second leg on December 15, Lyon shut out the Italian side 3-0 for a 6-2 aggregate victory to advance to the WCL Round of 16. German international Dzsenifer Marozsan scored in the 21st minute, while Malard again (88') and Belgium international Janice Cayman (90') added two late tallies.

Juventus' imports are:

G Doris Bacis (25) Croatia—She won the 2018-19 league title with the club and has won league titles in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (where she was born) and Belgium—with Anderlecht.

D Tuija Hyyrynen (32) Finland—The Finnish international joined the club in July of 2017 from Fortuna Hjorring in Denmark.

D Matilde Lundorf (21) Denmark—Capped at the U-19 level, she played in the WSL last season for Brighton and Hove Albion.

D Linda Sembrant (33) Sweden—The Swedish international, who won a runners-up medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, is in her second season with Juventus after 5 seasons with Montpellier in France.

M Sofie Pedersen (28) Denmark—The Danish international was a runner-up in 2017 for the UEFA Women's Championship and is in her third season with Juve, after playing primarily in Sweden. She won a league title in 2015 with Rosengard and spent a year in Spain with Levante in 2017-18.

M Annahita Zamanian (22) France—She joined Juventus from PSG in 2019-20 and is an U-20 international.

F Dalia Ippolito (18) Argentina—She played for her country in the 2019 Pan-American Games in Peru where she was a runner-up. She has been capped at the full, U-20 and U-17 level by Argentina and was on the 2019 Women's World Cup Finals squad in France.

F Andrea Staskova (20) Czech Republic—She won two league titles at Sparta Prague before joining Juve for the 2019-20 season.

F Lina Hurtig (25) Sweden—see above.

F Maria Aparecida Souza Alves (27) Brazil—She is in her second season with Juventus and won the Libertadores Cup Femenina in 2014 with Sao Jose in Brazil and Brazilian league titles with Centro Olimpico in 2013 and Santos in 2017.

Sparta Praha of the Czech Republic 3 vs Glasgow City of Scotland 1

Sparta Prague defeated Glasgow City at home in Chomutov (2-1) on December 9, with Czech Republic international Lucie Martinkova (34)—who had two seasons at Orebro in Sweden in 2013 and 2014 along with her twin sister Irene around two stints with Sparta; she started with the club at the turn of the new century and has won 5 league titles along with 100-plus caps—and fellow Czech international Anna Dlaskova (25) scored for the home side. Sharon Wojcik of the U.S. (ex-North Carolina State, Virginia Commonwealth University, Lugano of Switzerland and Sporting of Portugal) scored for City.

Sparta ended Glasgow City's difficult WCL season—after narrow penalty kick victories over domestic league champions Peamount United of the Republic of Ireland and Valur of Iceland—with a 1-0 win in Scotland in which the only goal came early from Lucie Martinkova. Sparta's only import is midfielder Lucia Ondrusova (32) of nearby Slovakia. Sparta Prague are in the Round of 16 for the 8th year in 17 European seasons; they have gone beyond the Round of 16 only once—in 2005-06, falling in the quarterfinals to Djurgarden of Sweden.

Manchester City of England 5 vs. Göteborg of Sweden 1

Another close match with a U.K.-based side in the first leg saw Manchester City defeating Goteborg in Sweden's western metropolis 2-1 on December 9, with American international Sam Mewis scoring the winner in the 76th minute. Manchester City had an easier time of it in the return leg at home (with a 18-1 advantage for shots and 7-1 for shots on goal) on December 16, winning 3-0 with English international Georgia Stanway (21 and the PFA Women's Young Player of the Year in 2019) scoring two goals within 3 minutes midway through the second half to seal the tie for City 5-1 on aggregate.

Goteborg's imports on the UEFA Women's Champions League roster are:

G Loes Geurts 34 Netherlands—The 2019 Women's World Cup runners-up team member in France and 2017 Women's EURO winner at home, she has been with Gothenburg since 2014, after two years at Vittsjo, except for one season at PSG in 2016-17

D Emma Koivisto (26) Finland—She went to college at Florida State University, has over 50 caps for her country and joined Gothenburg for the 2018 season after 5 seasons at home with Honka.

M Vilde Boe Risa (25) Norway—A full international with Norway, she joined Gothenburg in 2019 after many years with Arna-Bjornar at home in the Toppserien; she won her first league title in 2020 with the Swedish club.

M Anna Julia Csiki (21) Hungary—The full Hungarian international joined the club this season from Ferencvaros of Budapest.

M Brianne Folds (22) U.S.—ex-Auburn University, scoring 24 goals and 25 assists in 79 games, and an U-23 international who has another year on her contract—she played in 11 matches this season in the league.

Note: U.S. international defender Emily Sonnett played 10 games on loan from the NWSL Orlando Pride in 2020. On December 24, she was traded to the Washington Spirit for the 2021 season in exchange for the number 9 pick in the 2021 NWSL College Draft, a first round pick in either the 2022 or 2023 NWSL College Draft, $140,000 in Allocation Money to spend on top player acquisitions domestically or abroad and four year NWSL veteran midfielder Meggie Dougherty Howard, who played at the University of Florida and has played with the Spirit since the 2017 season.

Barcelona of Spain 8 vs. PSV Eindhoven of the Netherlands 0

Barcelona travelled to Eindhoven to face PSV in the December 9 first leg and won 4-0 They won the second leg at home by the same score with Dutch international Lieke Martens and Norwegian international Caroline Graham Hansen both scoring braces.

For PSV, their imports were:

G Cecilia Santiago (26) Mexico—A two-time Mexican World Cup player who started for her country in the 2011 WWC as a 16-year-old; she has played professionally in Mexico, the U.S., Cyprus, Iceland and is in her second year with PSV.

D Ellie Jean (23) U.S.—She played for the U.S. in the 2016 U-20 WWC in Papua New Guinea; the former Penn State University defender has another year on her PSV contract for 2021.

M Georgina Carreras (31) Spain—She transferred from Valencia in July ahead of the 2020-21 season's start. She played at the U-19 level for Spain and has been capped by Catalonia for friendlies.

M Julie Biessmans (26) Belgium—A full international with over 60 caps is in her second season with PSV; she played the two previous years with Bristol City who she joined from Standard Liege after the 2016/17 season at home.

M Anika Rodriguez (23) U.S.—A youth international who played at UCLA and with the Portland Thorns in the 2020 Challenge Cup. She is on a one-year contract through the end of the 2021 Dutch Eredivisie for Women season, and could return to the Thorns later in 2021.

M Amy Harrison (24) Australia—A 2019 WWC participant (ex-Sydney FC and Washington Spirit).

F Kyah Simon (29) Australia—She just missed the 2019 WWC after coming back from some injuries and played at Melbourne City for the last three seasons after many years for Sydney FC; in the States she played 5 seasons in the NWSL with the Houston Dash and now defunct Boston Breakers, scoring 10 goals with 8 assists in 66 appearances.

St. Pölten of Austria 3 vs. Zürich of Switzerland 0

St. Polten of Austria won at home 2-0 over Zurich on December 9 in the first leg and finished the tie in Zurich on December 17 with a 1-0 win for a 3-0 aggregate victory. St. Polten have moved onto the Round of 16 for the first time in their history in their seventh European club Championship season. They are the only team to come through from the qualifying rounds earlier in the Fall of 2020 to make the Round of 16 but Valerenga can match that, when their postponed Round of 32 games versus Brondby are made up, set to be played in the first two weeks of February.

Zurich utilizes all Swiss-based players and manager Ivan Dal Santo played as a defender for many years for a variety of clubs in Switzerland, the longest being 7 years for St. Gallen and FC Zurich.

Atlético Madrid of Spain 8 vs. Servette of Switzerland 2

Servette of Switzerland, the other Swiss side in the Round of 32 along with FC Zurich, also lost by a 2 goal margin, at home 4-2 against Atletico Madrid in their first round tie on December 9. Atletico had to come back from a 2-1 halftime deficit with goals by 2019 Women's World Cup finalist Ludmila da Silva (47') of Brazil, Deyna Castellanos (55') of Venezuela (ex-Florida State University) and twenty-two-year-old French forward Emelyne Laurent (90'), who was born in Martinique in the Caribbean—an overseas department of France. In the second leg on December 15, Atletico Madrid had a much easier time, with Colombian international Leicy Santos (24) and Castellanos scoring in the first half and second half strikes by France international Aissatou Tounkara and English international Toni Duggan for a 4-0 win and 8-2 on aggregate. Santos won a national junior college championship at Iowa Central Community College in the U.S. and was a 2019 Pan American Games Gold Medalist in Peru.

Servette's imports were:

G Ines Ribeiro (19) Portugal

D Amandine Soulard (33) France—New to the side this season after playing at home with Olympique Marseilles and Saint-Etienne.

M Alyssa Lagonia (31) Canada—She has been capped four times by the Canadian women's national team in 2009, has played one season for the Doncaster Rovers Belles in England (2012), and with Verona in Italy, Neuenkirch in Switzerland and Apollon Ladies in Cyprus; she joined Servette in 2019.

M Marie Duclos (25) France—She signed in April of 2020 and also is an ex-Saint Etienne in France player.

Marie Duclos : J'ai privilégié mes études, et je ne m'en suis pas trop mal sortie - | SFCMarie Duclos in action with Servette of Switzerland. Photo Courtesy Servette of Switzerland.

M Paula Serrano (29) Spain—She previously played at Madrid CFF and with Torres in Italy. She is a former U-19 international for Spain.

F Marta Peiro Gimenez (22) Spain—She joined the side from Sporting Hueva before the 2020-21 season started.

F Leonie Fluery (24) France—A former U-19 international for France; she played for many years at Saint-Etienne.

Fiorentina of Italy 3 vs Slavia Praha of the Czech Republic 2

Fiorentina and Slavia Prague ended their first leg in a 2-2 deadlock on December 11 in Florence, with goals by Italian international forward Daniela Sabatino (35) and Irish international Louise Quinn (30) for the Italian side. Swedish import Mia Persson and 36-year-old Czech international forward Petra Divisova, who has been with the club since 2007 and won four league titles, countered for Slavia. Sabatino salvaged the return leg and the tie for the Italians on December 16 with a stunning 95th minute goal or else Slavia would have gone through to the Round of 16 on their two away goals from the first leg. Sabantino's crucial last second goal came from a glancing header from 5 yards out with her back to goal off of a long free kick outside of the box. High drama indeed and yet another example of a riveting game that was 0-0 until the very last minute! The highlights are available on Youtube https:/ as well as the full match. Sabatino is in her first season with Fiorentina after a year at Sasuolo in 2019-20, one season at Milan in 2018-19 and 8 years with Brescia. She played early in her career with Rapid Lugano in Switzerland and has 20 goals for her country.

Martina Zanoli (18) was stellar in defense in the second leg in her first season at Fiorentina after playing at Orobica last season and Atalanta in 2018-19. She played a high left back role and was critical at times in attack while also locking down Slavia's attacks in the back until she was substituted in the 65th minute after suffering some leg cramps. She has been capped at the U-17 and U-19 levels by Italy and is definitely one to watch in the future

Fiorentina is a very experienced squad led by Sabatino (35) countering six young Italians between the ages of 18-20 on the side. Claudia Neto is an experienced Portuguese international and led unheralded Linkopings to two Swedish Damallsvenskan titles in 2016 and 2017, as well as three consecutive Frauen Bundesliga titles for Wolfsburg after she transferred from Linkopings. This team could do some more damage in the Round of 16, depending on the draw.

Slavia Praha imports included:

M Mia Persson (30) Sweden—She played for many years for Limhamn Bunkeflo 07 at home in the Swedish top and second tier and won a league championship last season in her first campaign for Slavia.

M Diana Bartovicova (27) Slovakia—A full international (and before that with the U-19's) for her country, she has won four league titles with Slavia since the 2014/15 season.

M Martina Surnovska (21) Slovakia—She played for Apollon in Cyprus in the 2019-20 Women's Champions League and previously was with Slovan Bratislava, where she won two titles at home.

M Laura Zemberova (19) Slovakia—She is in her second season with Slavia.

Paris Saint-Germain of France 8 vs. Górnik Łęczna of Poland 1

PSG used goals by Canadian international Jordan Huitema in the 16th minute and French international Sandy Baltimore in the 25th to see off Gornik Leczna 2-0 in the first leg in Poland on December 11. At home on December 17, PSG scored 6 goals to 1 for Gornik, with Huitema scoring again along with a brace from Spanish international Irene Paredes to take the tie 8-1.

Gornik players were all domestic-based except for Patricia Hmirova (27) from Slovakia, who scored 2 goals in 3 WCL league matches. Hmirova is a currently a full international and has also played club ball at home and with multiple clubs in Poland as well as for one season with FC Neunkirch in Switzerland.

Bayern München of Germany 6 vs. Ajax of the Netherlands 1

The German side came home from Amsterdam with a 3-1 victory over Ajax in the first leg on December 12 and sealed the 6-1 aggregate tie with a 3-0 win at home on December 16, with the winning goal from Dutch international midfielder and 2019 Women's World Cup runner-up and 2017 Women's EURO winner Lineth Beerensteyn in the first minute. Ajax used an entirely all-Dutch side except for Czech Republic import forward (28) Lucie Vonkova, who has over 50 caps for her nation and is in her second season with Ajax after transferring from Bayern Munich, where she spent 2 seasons.

Vålerenga of Norway vs Brøndby of Denmark—Postponed

This tie's two legs were postponed as Danish clubs in general were having travel restrictions to other countries due to high COVID-19 rates. The ties are reset to be played in February 2021.

Olympique Lyon's Kadeisha Buchanan wins 2020 Canadian Player of the Year Award

Kadeisha Buchanan (25) has been named the 2020 Canadian Player of the Year presented by Allstate (Insurance). This is her third Canadian Player of the Year award in six seasons and, in a year in which Canada's national team had its schedule drastically cut due to COVID-19, she was still instrumental in helping Canada qualify for the Olympic Games (since moved from last summer to 2021) and she won three trophies with her club Olympique Lyonnais, including the 2019-20 UEFA Women's Champions League. Buchanan was named to the Best XI at the 2020 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Championship in February when Canada qualified for their fourth consecutive Olympic Games, during which she won her 100th full national team cap.

In France, Buchanan won her fourth UEFA Women's Champions League title, her fourth Championnat de France (league title), and her third Coupe de France (domestic cup). She was also a year-end nominee for the UEFA Team of the Year. Buchanan won the Canadian title in a vote conducted with Canadian media and coaches. She is from Brampton, Ontario (near Toronto). Her new national team manager Bev Priestman said, "For Kadeisha to have played an integral part in her fourth UEFA Champions League speaks to one of her many accomplishments and contributions to both club and country in which she should be very proud. It has been a fantastic season for Kadeisha and it has been great to see her performances and the goals she has scored, too. She has world-class qualities that any country would be proud to have and she is a highly-valued member of the squad both on and off the pitch, so we are thrilled for her personally in receiving this well-deserved recognition. As a team, to know you have a center back that opposing forwards hate to play against, it fills the group with confidence."

Before this year, Buchanan previously won the Canadian Player of the Year Award in 2015 and 2017. She played collegiately at West Virginia University.

Buchanan finished first in voting ahead of runner up Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns) and top-five finishers Janine Beckie (Manchester City), Ashley Lawrence and Jordyn Huitema (both Paris St. Germain PSG in France).

Jade Rose were named Canadian Youth International Players of the Year. Rose (17) from Markham, Ontario, was the runner-up for the award in 2019 and played in the last U-17 Women's World Cup in Uruguay and has been involved in two full national team camps, with three friendly appearances in 2019

Past winners of the Canadian Players of the Year Award
2019 Ashley Lawrence
2018 Christine Sinclair
2017 Kadeisha Buchanan
2016 Christine Sinclair
2015 Kadeisha Buchanan
2014 Christine Sinclair
2013 Christine Sinclair
2012 Christine Sinclair
2011 Christine Sinclair
2010 Christine Sinclair
2009 Christine Sinclair
2008 Christine Sinclair
2007 Christine Sinclair
2006 Christine Sinclair
2005 Christine Sinclair
2004 Christine Sinclair
2003 Charmaine Hooper
2002 Charmaine Hooper
2001 Andrea Neil
2000 Christine Sinclair

1999 Geraldine Donnelly
1998 Silvana Burtini
1997 Janine Helland
1996 Geraldine Donnelly
1995 Charmaine Hooper
1994 Charmaine Hooper

Tim Grainey is a contributor to Tribal Football.

His latest book Beyond Bend it Like Beckham on the global game of women's football. Get your copy today.

Follow Tim on Twitter: @TimGrainey

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