James stars for Chelsea; Barcelona win Supercopa; Roma slide

After the winter break, the European women’s leagues have largely returned (with Germany’s Frauen Bundesliga the outlier until Friday). There were a glut of goals in the Women’s Super League (WSL), while Barcelona picked up their first trophy of the season and Roma‘s slump continued.

Here are 10 things from this weekend’s action in the women’s game across Europe.

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James shines for Chelsea vs. Manchester United

At the end of last season, Chelsea manager Emma Hayes said that completing the domestic double of league and FA Cup was “a grind.” And so far this season, the Blues have looked a bit laboured: there was the fortunate point away to Manchester City, the 4-1 thrashing from Arsenal, and 0-0 draw against Häcken at home in the UEFA Women’s Champions League (UWCL).

Still atop the WSL table over the winter break, it looked like it could be another season of toil from the champions. But, for the first 30 minutes of the 3-1 win over Manchester United on Sunday, they were unplayable. Chelsea looked back to their vintage best and made light work of their passive visitors to go 2-0 up with a double from Lauren James, who showed how she can dance around defences and also get through ton of work off the ball as well.

Yes, they eased off and slipped into complacency to leave a route back into the game for United. But James’ third from her position as a roaming No. 10 put paid to any comeback from the visitors and Hayes will be delighted that her side showed something of their old selves even without injured star striker Sam Kerr.

Shaw keeps scoring

Not long after James had bagged her hat trick, Manchester City striker Bunny Shaw picked up a treble of her own in the 5-1 thrashing of Liverpool. With 12 goals from 10 games, Shaw is the top scorer in the WSL this season and completed her third hat trick in her last four league matches in style.

Shaw’s great understanding with her teammates means she knows exactly where to be to finish off chances and the cheeky backheel for her third showed just how confidence the Jamaica international is right now.

“The most impressive thing for me with Bunny is, you accept she’ll score goals, but it’s the other parts of her game,” City manager Gareth Taylor said afterwards. “Her holdup play has really improved and the way she pressed was magnificent. When you think about her transition into the Club, she had to compete with Ellen White for the No. 9 shirt but now and last season she’s taken it on herself.”

Barcelona thrash Levante to claim Supercopa

For most, the past weekend was about league football. But for Barcelona and Levante it was reserved for the Supercopa — with both having claimed their place in the final after midweek wins over Real Madrid and Atletico.

Just like three of the previous four finals, the Catalans were victorious. And, like two of those, their margin of success was uncomfortably vast for what should be one of the toughest games of the season: a 7-0 win with goals from Aitana Bonmatí, a stunner from Ona Batlle, a brace from young gun Salma Paralluelo and a hat trick for Caroline Graham Hansen.

From their 10-1 win over Real Sociedad in 2020, to the 7-0 over Atleti in 2022, Barcelona once again dominated the competition by a huge scoreline to claim the trophy for the third year in a row.

Roma’s dip in form continues

With two wins in their last seven games across all competitions, Roma’s slide can’t be ignored. There were two losses to PSG in the UWCL, which sandwiched an uncomfortable win over Como at the end of last year, but 2024 has brought about a sizable downturn in results.

First, there was the Super Cup loss to old foes Juventus before they bounced back with a win over Pomigliano. But that was swiftly followed by a 2-0 defeat in the Copa Italia quarterfinal first-leg to a Napoli team who have yet to pick up a league win this season.

After that game, veteran defender Elisa Bartoli spoke of Roma’s need to bounce back but this weekend against Inter Milan it was another frustrating 90 minutes and another 2-0 defeat. And insult to injury for Roma came in the loss of Bartoli to a straight red after she came on as a second-half substitute.

There is little time to dwell on things for the Giallorosse, however. With the return of the Champions League in midweek, they must win against Bayern Munich if they have hopes of reaching the knockout stage.

Arsenal go level at the top, Everton show resilience

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Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Everton on Saturday was a one-sided affair for the first 25 minutes. And when the hosts pulled the defence out of position for Caitlin Foord to slot home the opener inside 10 minutes, the immediate sense was that it was going to be a long afternoon for the Toffees.

However, the visitors settled into the game and dug out an equaliser with their second foray forward before they switched off in first-half stoppage time to allow Beth Mead to meet Lia Walti’s cross for the eventual winner.

The Merseysiders have struggled with injuries and a lack of squad depth this season, so it is good that they managed to find a better shape which allowed them to absorb pressure rather than buckle under it. A late onslaught almost found them another equaliser, but there will be plenty of positives for Brian Sørensen’s team to take.

Spurs have the better of it in seven-goal thriller

In the rain and wind, Tottenham and West Ham somehow played out the game of the WSL weekend.

Manchester United loanee Grace Clinton was instrumental, grabbing two goals and an assist as Spurs raced to a 3-1 lead, yet the Irons stood up to the test and found a route back thanks to goals from Viviane Asseyi and Amber Tysiak after the hour.

And when new signing Katrina Gorry slammed a shot from range against the upright, it was hard to tell which team would win. Ultimately, Tottenham sneaked it as Jessica Naz made it 4-3 to the visitors in 75th minute, but the Hammers’ industry and resilience will stand them in good stead through the second half of the season.

Terland shines for Brighton again

No one ever said rebuilding was easy and Melissa Phillips’ Brighton have taken time to gel after an influx of new players arrived over the summer.

The Seagulls have struggled for consistency so far this season, but of the few things they can rely on has been the goals of Elisabeth Terland. The 22-year-old Norway international is now up to nine league goals, and is on course for her most profitable season to date, after scoring twice in a 3-2 win over Bristol City.

Her winner came in the 95th minute and snatched all three points away from a brace Bristol City side who had come from behind twice to equalise but left empty handed.

Villa claim the only WSL clean sheet

Of the six WSL matches this round, there were 26 goals scored and only one team managed to keep a clean sheet. Somewhat unexpectedly, that was the team who had only stopped the opponent from scoring twice in their previous 10 league games: Aston Villa.

A 1-0 win away to Leicester wasn’t the most comfortable performance from Villa, but few have been so far this season. Arguably, the Foxes should have taken a point but the ball simply would not drop kindly for the hosts, who are now without a league win in their last nine.

Montpellier make it uncomfortable for Lyon

It’s been a few years since Montpellier were snapping at the heels of the top two in France, and when Lyon raced into a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Vanessa Gilles and Ada Hegerberg, it looked like it was going to be a long night for the once-impressive team.

Yet, Lyon didn’t run away with the game as they so often have and when 23-year-old defender Océane Deslandes fired back a response after half an hour, the result was hanging in the balance. Indeed, it had a feeling of some of Lyon’s Champions League outings this season: uncomfortable and without that familiar conviction.

In the end, Lyon hung on to keep an eight-point lead at the top and, not for the first time in their history, fifth-placed Montpellier found themselves coming up short on one Europe’s best sides.

Janogy makes instant impact for Fiorentina

A move to Wolfsburg saw Madelen Janogy’s mental health take a serious downturn as she made a quick return to more-familiar Damallsvenskan in 2020, so her January transfer to Fiorentina following three solid seasons with Hammarby was brave.

After a quiet cameo in the 4-2 win over Napoli last weekend, the Sweden international made her impact felt when she came on at the hour mark against Pomigliano with the scores tied at 1-1. Janogy scored twice in five minutes, including a stunning curler to settle the match and give the hosts a 3-1 win.