7 things from women's soccer: Tottenham's FA Cup joy, Bayern win again, Barca's Salma scores four


Be it Cups (English FA Cup), the Coupe in France, the Italian Coppa or simply games at the top end of the table in Germany and Spain, it was a week that will have a bearing on the silverware handed out at this season on the continent.

Let’s review another eventful weekend in women’s football across Europe.

The “magic of the Cup” on full display in England

The upset of the round in the FA Cup came in the final game of the quarterfinals at Brisbane Road, where Spurs faced Manchester City and prevailed 4-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

Tottenham’s growth against Manchester City, especially since that 7-0 hammering in their first meeting at the Joie Stadium last year, has been palpable. And yet that clash in Manchester was a bit of an outlier, with every shot seeming to end up in the back of the net. With each subsequent meeting (all played in London), the Lilywhites have continued their growth under Robert Vilahamn, each time getting a little bit better. From a 2-0 loss in the league to a 1-0 loss in the league cup, maybe a Spurs win in their fourth meeting was still against the odds, but it wasn’t completely out the question.

Falling to a Mary Fowler goal in the early minutes, the hosts were markedly better in the second half and although their 94th-minute equaliser came from a mix-up between City goalkeeper Khiara Keating and defender Laia Aleixandri, Spurs deserved it. From there, the shoot-out came down to experience versus youth: one goalkeeper (Becky Spencer) enjoying an elongated career against one (Keating) just starting out on her journey in top-flight football, Spencer made two stops to Keatings’ one and sent Spurs into their first ever FA Cup semi-final.

Everton continue to toil

Everton are not a bad team: it needs to be said every time they play. They’ve endured nearly a full season mired in an injury crisis, leading to arguably one of the weakest squads in the league on paper. Yet manager Brian Sørensen still seems to put out an Everton team that can compete for 90 minutes, and that was again the case against Chelsea in their cup quarterfinal.

Ultimately, their periods of dominance passed with several wasted opportunities and, again, Cat Macario would come off the bench to make the difference within minutes. The Chelsea forward was in the right place, unmarked, to finish from close range and give Chelsea a 1-0 win.

Chelsea have been disappointing this year, with glimpses of their abilities amid a season that’s been far from vintage. Injuries to Sam Kerr and Mia Fishel have thrown off the balance, but Macario’s return after her own ACL injury seems to be the perfect tonic. Whether sneaking wins or cruising to victories, they’re still finding the all-important goals and that should worry their rivals in both the league and the cup from here until the end of the campaign.

Man United progress with a much-needed rout

Brighton, who had been so good in their first meeting against Manchester United this season, ended up looking particularly hapless against the team trying to save their season. Indeed, Saturday’s 4-0 away win was one of the more dominant Red Devils performances this term, with much better tempo and intensity as they tore into the Seagulls’ backline time and again, with Millie Turner, Nikita Parris, Lucía García and Lisa Naalsund all finding the net.

United’s season has come off the rails a bit in 2024, with just seven points from a possible 15 marking the end of their WSL contention and defeat against Man City in the League Cup. Yet this victory and safe passage into Tuesday’s semifinal draw should give manager Marc Skinner and his squad a little respite.

Some “magic of the Coupe” in France as well

Since the inception of the Coupe de France as the Challenge de France in 2001, Lyon have missed out on just four finals — or that was the case coming into this weekend’s semi-final tie against mid-table side Fleury.

Lyon haven’t lost in the league all season and are preparing for the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals next week, but they regressed against Fleury into stale passages of play and frustration took hold. After 90 scoreless minutes, the match moved to penalties and even then, the team that have been so potent from 12 yards were suddenly out of the competition, beaten 5-4.

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The second semifinal, between Paris FC and PSG, took place the following day and couldn’t have been more different from the first as a rambunctious affair in the French capital that saw the teams share six goals between them before going to penalties. In the end, Gaëtane Thiney and Clara Matéo missed for the hosts, denying fans of a guaranteed first-time Coupe winner. From here, PSG will be heavy favourites.

And, in Italy, some “magic of the Coppa”

On the back-foot after losing to Fiorentina in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semifinal, Juventus — not long after parting ways with manager Joe Montemurro — might have been hoping for the instant bounce that comes with a change of management. However, the second leg — and the tie overall — quickly got away from them. As well as a pair of goals for Swedish forward Madelen Janogy and a penalty from Veronica Boquete, there was an imperious performance by Katja Schroffenegger between the posts, thwarting Juventus at every turn and capping a forgettable week for the Bianconere.

Elsewhere, Roma’s dominant 5-2 win over Milan in the second semifinal second leg (a 7-2 aggregate victory) has set up a grandstand final between the two in-form teams in Italy, and dare it be said, the two teams whose players look to be having the most fun on the pitch.

Bayern stay the course in Germany

There’s something a bit Schrödinger’s Cat about Bayern this season: are they good, are they bad, dare you open the box and find out? Away to Frankfurt this weekend, Bayern took the lead early after some smooth attacking play that raised questions about Eintracht’s credentials, but failed to really put the sword to their opponents.

And then, as has happened so frequently this season, their opposition found an equaliser. It came from some of the best sustained pressure the Eagles have mustered this season against strong opposition, but just when it looked like the hosts were going to go on and shock Bayern, the visitors struck back with a swift counter and Lea Schüller scored the winner.

It could just be weariness — thanks to the cumulative minutes for so many players who are amid back-to-back-to-back summer tournaments — but there is also a sense that manager Alexander Straus’ tactics are still too muddled. In his second year in charge, after what looked to be a promising evolution last term, there are already questions of regression.

So, are Bayern good? Well, they’re top of the table with yet another win under their belts and for most, that’s all that matters.

Salma can’t stop scoring

There’s always a Barcelona player who will light up the pitch when they play, it doesn’t have to be Aitana Bonmatí, Alexia Putellas or Caroline Graham Hansen, but someone will invariably stand up each game and scream “look at how damn good I am!”

In the league this weekend against Real Sociedad, who were a shadow of themselves, it was Salma Paralluelo who tore the pitch up, netting four of Barcelona’s seven goals to take her tally to 13 for the season.

We’ve seen Salma’s continued growth this term after a breakout World Cup, and she fits the system so well: the playmakers around her are consistently finding Salma in the attacking third, where she’s able to humble opposition defences. As Barcelona thunder towards yet another league title, the goal contributions of the increasingly reliable 20-year-old can’t be overlooked even if, like her teammates, she has woven herself into the intricate Barcelona tapestry.



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