In a week where women's European football was worth no more than a measly 27 words in press release for the Super League, the biggest (failed) coup in football history, the UEFA Women's Champions League semifinalists were quietly preparing to make some history of their own.
While the initial announcement of the Super League stole attention on Sunday, on the pitch, Paris Saint-Germain pulled off the biggest win in the UWCL for several years by knocking out seven-time champions Lyon. Looking to win their sixth UWCL title in a row, Lyon have been bested twice by PSG this season. In November, their French counterparts snapped an 80-game unbeaten streak they'd worked up in Division 1 Feminine over almost four years.
Yet these defeats are less about Lyon's decline and more about PSG's rise. France's Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Kadidiatou Diani are first and third in the league's scoring charts. Their stellar form has put PSG at the top of the league, on track for their first-ever title and ending Lyon's 14-season dominance.
The dismissal of Lyon, and Wolfsburg, in the quarterfinals means the UWCL trophy will be heading to a new home after the May 16 final as none of the four remaining clubs -- PSG, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Barcelona -- have ever won the title before. All four are top of their respective league tables and will be out to prove they are the new powerhouses of European football ahead of the tournament's restructuring next season.
First leg: Sunday, Apr. 25
The scenes of jubilation after PSG beat Lyon on Sunday were reminiscent of a side that had just won a title. Players screamed and rushed onto the pitch at the final whistle, and videos posted on social media of the dressing room showed flying water bottles and Katoto leading the squad in chants. The Ultras waited for them outside the Parc des Princes and set off flares as they returned. It's an understandable reaction from a side that's had the talent in recent seasons to beat Lyon, but seemed to crumble under the pressure of facing their nearest rivals.
However, their historic victory will have to be set aside as they prepare to face a strong Barcelona side, who are unbeaten in the Primera Iberdrola this season. Barca have scored 125 league goals and conceded just five. When Manchester City put two past goalkeeper Sandra Panos in the second leg of the quarterfinals, it was the first time she had conceded since January. They have something to prove, though, when it comes to showing their class outside of Spain.
It promises to be a scintillating match-up. It has been four years since the two met in the semifinals, where PSG beat the Spanish champions 5-1 on aggregate. Even with the expertise of Katoto and Diani, it's unlikely that PSG will slide past them with such ease this time around. Barca have worked on improving their depth, deftly rotating their squad in order to handle their domestic and European commitments. Against Manchester City, they left established Netherlands international Lieke Mertens on the bench only to bring her on in the second half. However, they still need to prove that they can do it against the biggest teams in Europe.
PSG will be riding high from their quarterfinal victory, but will need composure to reach their first final since 2016-17. To do so, Olivier Echouafni will be reliant on some of the more senior members of his squad. Christiane Endler pulled off some incredible saves, including one in the dying moments, against Lyon and alongside the likes of Spain's Irene Paredes and Brazil's Formiga, the side aren't lacking in experience.
Bayern Munich vs. Chelsea
First leg: Sunday, Apr. 25
Chelsea are another side heading into these semifinals after a big midweek win. The Blues set themselves on track for another Women's Super League title with a fascinating 2-2 draw against nearest rivals Manchester City on Wednesday.
Manager Emma Hayes needed a big game performance from her side, and they delivered. Goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger was the standout player of the match once again for the London side. The fact that she only has three international caps has baffled fans this season, as she has pulled off save after incredible save in the WSL and the UWCL to keep Chelsea on track for a quadruple-winning season.
One major worry for Chelsea, however, will be the continued absence of captain Magdalena Eriksson. She sat out the game on Wednesday with an injury and there was a noticeable gap in the defence where she would normally be.
Bayern Munich, meanwhile, are in just their second-ever UWCL semifinal, having lost to Barcelona in 2018-19. In the Frauen Bundesliga, they're on track for their first title since 2015-16, with Wolfsburg struggling six points behind in second. Much like PSG, Bayern have taken advantage of the issues of their nearest rivals to push on this season. Lea Schuller in attack has been essential to that, with four goals in her last four appearances, bringing her league total to 12 in 17 games.
However, they are in a poor spell of form right now. They lost 2-0 to third-placed Hoffenheim on April 17 which marked their first loss of the season and this was compounded by being knocked out of the German Cup by Wolfsburg. During the week, they conceded early to fourth-placed Potsdam and had to claw back into the game to secure a 3-2 win.
Based on form heading into this game, Chelsea would be the favourites, but the game on Wednesday will have taken a massive toll on Hayes' squad. It was an end-to-end match, with no room to slow down or reserve energy. As a result, Sunday's first leg could offer Bayern the opportunity to get a foot in the door of the final.