Thank you so much for joining me this evening for Barcelona’s 5-0 victory over Benfica. While Benfica played a tactically brilliant opening 20 minutes, the defending champions found a way to record a clinical win. It will take a lot to stop Barcelona this season but if teams like Lyon can find their best form we are in for some tasty matches! I will catch you tomorrow for Real Madrid v Chelsea, have a good evening!
The Women’s Champions League action may be over for today but there is more headed your way tomorrow. Four more games – Paris FC v Hacken, Bayern Munich v Roma, Ajax v PSG and Real Madrid v Chelsea – will take place. The Guardian will be covering Real Madrid v Chelsea live so make sure you follow the updates!
A perfect start to Barcelona’s WCL title defence isn’t a bad way for manager Jonatan Giraldez to celebrate his 100th game in charge of the club. He is not the only one celebrating a record as captain Alexia Putellas is now the club’s top scorer in the WCL, overtaking Jenni Hermoso with her two goals this evening.
Benfica player Marie-Yasmine Alidou told DAZN: “I think we still have some growing to do. We started the game well, it is important we keep the positive. It’s the first games, there are other games. It’s a hard team to beat, [the managed told us to] showcase and show the football we know and we can play.” And on lessons to take forward: “We have to analyse this game, we need to review our tactics against teams like this. How can we maximise our potential on the field?”
Aside from all the Women’s Champions League action, the biggest news from this evening is the confirmation that Chelsea boss Emma Hayes will be the new USWNT head coach. Read the full story:
What a photo!
Aitana Bonmati has told DAZN: “It’s good to start the season like this with our people here and scoring five goals. This was our goal today and we keep going for more.
“We [Bonmati and Graham Hansen] have been playing together for four years, we know each other and we try to help each other.
Keira Walsh added: “I think it took a while to settle in, the style is different. My role in this team is getting the ball to people like Caro, Aitana, Alexia and let them do their thing.
“The motivation for this club is to arrive in the Champions League final each season. It’s so competitive [at Barca].”
In this Barcelona match, the goal of the match has to be Oshoala’s overhead kick. It was just a sumptuous finish, take a look:
In the other match that kicked off at 8pm GMT, Slavia Praha v Lyon, the French giants have recorded a clinical 9-0 result. Ada Hegerberg added to her record of the most goals scored in the WCL:
Full-time: Barcelona 5-0 Benfica
What a dominant second half from Barcelona! Benfica troubled the defending champions in the opening stages of this game, they halted the hosts from finding their flow but they were still 3-0 up at half-time. The second half saw them utterly control the game and they added some more spectacular goals to record a great win. It is going to take a lot to stop this team.
90 + 5 min: A huge pass from Cintra, it’s whipped into the box but it’s well blocked by Barcelona. To Benfica’s credit they have not died in this game, they have remained a thorn in the side.
90 + 3 min: Both players are okay to continue and we are back underway in the final few minutes of this match.
90 + 2 min: Araujo is okay to continue, though she looks uncomfortable when getting back to her feet. Pauels is back down too and so both teams take on some water.
90 + 1 min: There will be four minutes added. Araujo is down here with an injury.
90 min: Paralluelo rockets a cross but Pauels collects before any Barca player can pounce. Benfica then break, a really great move to include most of the team but the last cross is blocked.
88 min: Here come Benfica but it is their final pass that is just not coming off for them. Barca manage to sweep up the ball and clear the danger. It is worth noting that Benfica are unbeaten in the Portuguese league, they are an impressive team but they are just up against arguably the best team in world football right now. Alves and Nazareth are subbed for Almeida and Martins are on.
86 min: Oshoala almost gets another with a thundering cross in but it’s over her head. It comes to Bonmati, who is on for a hat-trick, but her effort is just over the bar. Oshoala wants that second goal but her next shot is punched away by Pauels.
84 min: Pina takes a shot but it is well blocked, Barca come again and it is Pina who takes another shot but Pauels collects easily. A foul throw from Batlle, a rare sight and error from the former Manchester United star, but Nazareth coughs up possession quickly.
82 min: Barcelona come forward once more, I watch them play and I question if any club can get near them in this competition. Lyon could challenge them but the French team have less fluidity than they used to, don’t get me wrong Lyon would beat most teams. But Barcelona just always find a way to win, they grip on the WCL trophy won’t be relenting for a while.
80 min: Barca make another change with Graham Hansen off for Lopez. Another huge performance from Graham Hansen.
78 min: It’s a good delivery but it’s headed away, it comes to Faria who fires it back in but the hosts manage to deal with the threat. Benfica are alive and kicking right now, they want a goal to show the efforts they have put in this evening.
76 min: Benfica make a good play and a long cross comes to Nazareth but her shot is way over the bar. The visitors get it in the box again but no one is there to support Cintra and Barca clear. But not for long! Cintra has a lovely cross in and it falls to the feet of Nazareth, if someone took a punt that would be in! Benfica now have a corner.
74 min: Paralluelo gives away possession with a foul but Barca win back the ball quickly. The first half saw some good play from Benfica but whatever was said at half-time has stuck as the hosts have been utterly dominant in this second 45.
72 min: Barcelona are finding their teammates so easily at the moment, this chance though ends with Oshoala offside. Walsh is now off for Pina, a note for English fans that Bronze remains on the bench.
70 min: Graham Hansen should have passed out wide there, she instead backs herself but the Benfica players crowd her out. Benfica then break with Norton feeding Cintra but it’s cut out to thwart the chance.
69 min: Paralluelo almost scored a beautiful individual goal with a great goal but her eventual shot goes wide. Also a fun fact, all the goalscorers tonight have a first name beginning with the letter A.
67 min: Here is that goal from Oshoala, I was going to wait until full-time but you should see this now!
66 min: Miguel has been in touch and said: “The scoreline might even end 9-0 again, but you can tell the Benfica players are giving the Barcelona players much more work, this time around. Benfica still has a long way to come. But we can see an improvement with each season.” Yes I completely agree, especially in that opening 20 minutes. They were astute and intense, if they could maintain that across 90 minutes it would limit Barca’s attack. Back to the game, Alves has a yellow card for a foul. Benfica are making two changes with Alidou and Silva off for Cintra and Norton.
64 min: I am still stunned by that goal, 40 seconds on the pitch and she does that. Just wow! Barcelona are revving the engine now!
62 min: Graham Hansen crossed in and Oshoala seemed to fall as she hit it and in the end it looked like a bicycle kick. I am stunned.
GOAL! Barcelona 5-0 Benfica (Oshoala, 61')
OSHOALA!! She has been on for a minute, her first touch and she scores.
60 min: Barcelona are making more changes with Caldentey and Brugts off for Paralluelo and Oshoala.
60 min: Barcelona are playing with Benfica as a cat plays with a toy, pawing at it before dealing the lethal blow. Guijarro tries to pull the trigger on a shot but it’s wide.
58 min: Guijarro has her shirt pulled and so Barca will clear their lines. Benfica make a change with Raysla on for Falcon.
56 min: Silva hunts down a great ball but Coll confidently comes out of goal to boot it away, it pays off with a great distributing kick ends with Brugts winning a corner. Leon takes the kick but it’s headed away.
54 min: It was 9-0 in the opening game of the group stage between these two last season and the way Barcelona are flowing at the moment I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw the same scoreline.
GOAL! Barcelona 4-0 Benfica (Bonmati, 52')
Brugts with a lovely pass to Graham Hansen, she makes a great run into the box and lays it to Bonmati who whallops home.
52 min: Leon takes the set piece but it’s a blunder, she taps it with her foot to readjust the ball but the officials judge it as it was her attempt to take it! Benfica players smother the ball and the chance is gone, a rare error from Leon there.
50 min: Silva puts in a great cross but Coll reads it well, she comes out and collects to reset her side. They thread it through the team and Graham Hansen wins a corner.
48 min: Benfica are pinning Barca in the final third of their own half at the moment, really good moves from the Portuguese side – especially through Alves. The hosts eventually get the ball away and suddenly they are in the box but Bonmati is offside.
47 min: Benfica create a nice play but Barca manage to wrestle them off the ball and Leon wins possession from a foul.
Back underway! Barcelona 3-0 Benfica
Benfica have a lot of work to do to get a point from this one with defending champions Barcelona in the driving seat. Can they pull away even further? Second half will tell all. Putellas has been taken off, Guijarro is on, she looked to be moving gingerly after her first goal.
BREAKING NEWS! Emma Hayes has been named the next head coach of the USWNT. The Chelsea manager had announced she was leaving at the end of the season and she was heavily linked to the US top job but it has now been confirmed:
It seemed UEFA had given Brugts that second goal but they have now changed it to Putellas, questionable as the Barcelona captain looked offside for the score. But hey ho, the goal has been awarded.
Keira Walsh has given a short half-time interview to DAZN, she said: “I think 10-15 minutes it took us to get into the game… Benfica they started really strong and it was difficult to play out but I think we found our rhythm.”
Benfica may be hurting being 3-0 to Barcelona but they can spare a thought for Slavia Praha who are currently 6-0 down to Lyon at half-time!
Half-time: Barcelona 3-0 Benfica
Well we may not be seeing the 9-0 slaughtering we saw between these two teams the last time they played in Barcelona but we are once again seeing champions finding a way to win. They have been far from their best but they have managed to take their opportunities when they have presented themselves. Benfica just need to keep their shape and intensity to maintain their defence and find more attacking chances.
45 + 2 min: Benfica have now got to be the next to score if they want something from this, I just can’t see them coming back here barring a miracle. It isn’t that they have played badly, it’s just Barca are lethal when they have chances.
45 min: There will be three minutes added.
GOAL! Barcelona 3-0 Benfica (Bonmati, 44')
Maybe I spoke too soon for Benfica! Ballon d’Or winner takes a lovely controlled finish. This game should be a done deal now.
43 min: Barca have been combated well by Benfica but the defending champions are getting the job done so far, they have been dominant but if Benfica continue their hard work they could still get something from this game.
41 min: For that second goal Barca had a free kick and Leon had a storming kick. Brugts hits it sweetly and it heads for goal. Putellas touches it before it went in but Brugts deserves that, I’ll check the official record shortly to see who UEFA gave it too.
GOAL! Barcelona 2-0 Benfica (Brugts, 40')
There is the second!
38 min: Leon takes the kick, it’s a scrappy clearance from Benfica and it comes back to Leon but her shot is wide. There is a penalty call as the ball has hit the arm of a Benfica player but the referee has not blown for it, a reminder VAR is not in operation. Barca do have a corner though. It’s taken but Pauels initially punches away, it falls to Bonmati but she clears.
36 min: Tom has emailed and said: “I’ve recently found a seller of cancoillotte (the very best of cheeses) down the road from my house. This is a big deal, as I thought it was jealousy hoarded in a small part of France.
As a result, I’m currently eating excessive amounts of the stuff spread on crusty bread.” I’ve never tried this cheese and now I’m really intrigued! Back to the match and Amado gets a yellow card and gives away a free kick for a shirt pull on Graham Hansen.
34 min: Graham Hansen involved in a close chance once again, she collects a ball rebounded off of a Benfica defender. The Norway international finds Batlle but her shot is over the bar.
32 min: Pauels is okay to continue. But Putellas is receiving some treatment here! She has come back on but she has not looked comfortable after her goal.
30 min: Pauels has gone down, she’s clutching her knee. The commentators are being sceptical about if it is an injury as a goalkeepers do not have to wait by the sideline after receiving treatment and both teams are having huddles with their respective managers.
28 min: Faria pings it over the top but Falcon is offside. Barca take a risky pass at the back and Coll only just manages to recover it!
27 min: Barca have really slowed the game down now, putting a lot of passes in the midfield. Bonmati losses possession though and Benfica are now on the attack.
24 min: Graham Hansen finds Ballon d’Or winner Bonmati but she can’t get the ball away cleanly to take a shot. Barca rally quickly and Putellas takes a shot, what a save from Pauels! She shuts down the chance to prevent the Barca captain from doubling their lead. OH MY WORD. Pauels comes out of her goal and Caldentey has an open goal but Alves clears off the line! WOW!
22 min: Marta makes a great tackle on Falcon to prevent her from making a run. Benfica are still in possession though, they haven’t let the goal affect them too much. They lose out on the ball on this occasion and Barca clear.
20 min: Here come Barcelona again, threading the ball like honey running off a spoon. It drops to Graham Hansen but her shot is saved by Pauels.
18 min: Brugts gives away a free kick but Benfica will have to take it from deep in their own half. It is taken poorly, it had the length but it goes straight out of play.
17 min: Putellas held her eye after the goal but she seems to be okay now, I will keep an eye on her (no pun intended!). The goal came from superb work from Graham Hansen, she took a shot but it deflected into the path of Putellas - a bullet header and Barca lead!
GOAL! Barcelona 1-0 Benfica (Putellas, 15')
A great run from Graham Hansen and a header from Putellas and the dam is broken.
14 min: Falcon pops a great cross into the box but it just sails over the heads of her teammates. It’s end-to-end stuff at the moment, so much action I can hardly keep up!
13 min: What a tackle!! Seica makes an incredible goal-saving tackle on Brugts in the box. It was precise with no chance of a penalty appeal. They immediately break and takes a shot but Coll saves. Suddenly Barca are up the other end but Graham Hansen’s shot is blocked – this game!!
12 min: Graham Hansen is just so good at football isn’t she? She just placed a pinpoint pass with one touch, just so silky. Despite the great move Barca are unable to penetrate the Benfica defence, yet. Benfica take a punt from long range but Coll deals with it.
10 min: Benfica have really come alive since their break and Falcon makes a great run. It’s enough to trouble Putellas who gives away a free kick. Benfica will have to build from deep with the set piece, they initially win a throw in but Barca then clear.
8 min: Benfica’s defence is holding strong at the moment despite Barca’s constant knocking at the door. Benfica break but Silva, who had a great World Cup, is well tackled in the box to halt the shot. Joe has got in touch and got involved in the snack chat, he has said: “It’s the middle of the afternoon here in Indianapolis, so I’ve not really begun to snack yet. I did have a nice Spicy California Roll with lots of wasabi for lunch, though. As I’m retired, there might even have been a glass of Chardonnay involved.” I love a cheeky wine with lunch, enjoy the match!
6 min: Barca take the free kick quickly ad have to work from the halfway line. Benfica think they have dealt with the threat but Putellas pings it into the box but it doesn’t find a teammate. A lovely pass to Falcon sees Benfica set up an attack but she is ruled offside.
4 min: Barcelona are in the box again and who else would put them there than Graham Hansen? She was unbelievable last season, being the key to beating Chelsea in the semi-finals. Barca are crowded out though and the chance is gone. Brugts wins a free kick as she is tackled without the ball.
2 min: Barcelona made a play for an early goal but Putellas is offside, the defending champions meaning business this evening!
Kick-off! Barcelona 0-0 Benfica
Here we go then! Can Barca start their title defence with a win? Or will Benfica cause an upset? We will find out over the next 90 minutes.
The players are out in the stadium and the crowd are ready to go, we are just minutes away from kick-off. Barca will be favourites to win but Benfica are in a fine run of form this season so the result could be anyone’s.
The last English club in the WCL is Chelsea and Emma Hayes’ side have never won the trophy. There is more motivation to do so this season as Hayes has announced she will be leaving the Blues at the end of the campaign. Here’s a piece on the topic:
Here is a fun fact for you:
The earlier games today have just finished with Frankfurt beating Rosengard 2-1 and Brann also taking the three points over St Polten with a 2-1 result.
If you have read any of the blogs I have done before I have a chat with the readers that I call snack chat. I had a hefty dinner so I’m going with a lighter snack of chocolate raisins. Tweet or email me and let me know what you’re snacking with while watching/reading the game!
This match is a milestone on Barcelona manager Jonatan Giraldez’ career as not only are his team kicking off their title defence but it is also his 100th game in charge of the club. Since being appointed in 2021 he has won six trophies with the team.
Who else is in Group A with Barcelona and Benfica you ask? Well I will tell you. Rosengard and Eintracht Frankfurt make up the rest of the group and the two clubs are playing one another right now. Frankfurt still lead 1-0.
Two matches have already kicked off with Rosengard v Eintracht Frankfurt and St Polten v Brann. Frankfurt are leading Rosengard 1-0 thanks to a goal by Tanja Pawollek and Brann are 1-0 up after Rakel Engesvik scored. Those games are yet to finish and so I will bring you those full-time scores when I have them. Slavia Praha v Lyon will kick-off at 8pm GMT, the same time as Barcelona v Benfica and so I will update you on that as it pans out.
The team news is here! Barcelona have made five changes from their 6-0 win over Villarreal on Saturday with Mapi Leon, Mariona Caldentey, Alexia Putellas, Carolina Graham Hansen and Ingrid Engen coming in.
Irene Paredes is out on medical grounds.
Barcelona: Coll, Leon, Marta, Mariona, Graham Hansen, Putellas, Bonmati, Walsh, Batlle, Engen, Brugts
Benfica: Pauels, Alves, Araujo, Amado, Falcon, Alidou, Gasper, Faria, Silva, Nazareth
Good evening and welcome to the Women’s Champions League group match between defending champions Barcelona and Portuguese club Benfica.
The WCL group stage is back after the qualifying rounds concluded last month, which saw English clubs Arsenal and Manchester United bow out. Benfica came through qualifying, beating Cliftonville, SFK Riga and Apollon to reach the group stage. Barcelona, meanwhile, automatically qualified for the group stage.
The two clubs faced one another in the WCL last season as they were drawn in the same group. Benfica lost both games to Barca, the first 9-0 and the second 6-2. They will be hoping to close the gap on the defending champions in the match this evening.
This game is not the only one taking place today with Rosengard v Eintract Frankfurt. St Polten v Brann and Slavia Praha v Lyon. I will update you on those games shortly.
For now the Barcelona and Benfica line ups will be revealed imminently so stay tuned for updates!