Women’s Champions League: Titleholder Barcelona draws Brann in quarters

In a season of upsets and overachieving underdogs in the Women’s Champions League, titleholder Barcelona was paired with Brann of Norway in the quarterfinals draw on Tuesday.

The Norwegian champion will make its quarterfinals debut by hosting Barcelona in the first leg on March 19 or 20, after getting through three qualifying rounds just to reach the group stage.

Häcken will host Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg for the Swedish club’s first game at the quarterfinals stage in 11 years. Häcken advanced from a group where Real Madrid was last.

Seven different countries had clubs in the draw, though none from Germany or Italy, after the big five European countries provided all of the quarterfinalists last season.

Eight-time champion Lyon will be away first against Benfica, and quarterfinal debutant Ajax hosts Chelsea in the first leg.

Lyon and Barcelona combined to win the last eight Champions Leagues and Chelsea — the 2021 beaten finalist — aims for a first title in coach Emma Hayes’ farewell season. Hayes will take charge of the United States before the Paris Olympics starts in July.

UEFA also made the semifinals draw pairings, and Barcelona could face Chelsea in a rematch of the 2021 final.

The final is on May 25 at Athletic Bilbao’s stadium.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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