A continental action-filled week of football saw two of the world’s biggest women’s club football tournaments pass crucial junctures, while there were some big twists and results in major men’s international tournament qualifying tournaments. Here is a recap:
🏆 Copa Libertadores Femenina: Corinthians 1-1 Internacional (4-3 on penalties)
The semi-finals of the Copa Libertadores featured three Brazilian teams, continuing the nation’s clubs’ domination of the tournament.
11 of the 14 previous titles have ended up in the hands of a Brazilian club, so it might come as a bit of a surprise that there has only been one all-Brazilian final in the past.
The format and the mode of qualification is a part of the reason, but this should still be considered an anomalous record as five different Brazilian clubs have lifted the title.
We are sure to get another Brazilian winner this year after defending champions Palmeiras beat Atlético Nacional fairly comfortably in their semi-final.
The other semi-final was an all-Brazilian affair between 2022 Libertadores champions Corinthians and the impressive Internacional, who knocked out Boca Juniors from the group stage.
The debutantes could well have reached the final as they took the lead early on and continued to create chances, but a red card in the second half derailed their efforts. Corinthians were able to equalise in the 80th minute, before going on to win it on penalties.
The winners of the last two editions of the competition will meet in the final this weekend.
🌍 UEFA Women’s Champions League Qualifiers: Wolfsburg 0-2 Paris FC (3-5 on aggregate)
Over in Europe, the new season of the Women’s Champions League has not got underway but the qualifying stage is now over. As ever, it has thrown up quite a few shock exits and big stories.
The biggest of the lot certainly is Paris FC’s return to the group stage for the first time in over a decade, and more importantly, the route they took to get there.
They eliminated last year’s semi-finalists Arsenal in the first qualifying round, before going on to do the same to finalists Wolfsburg.
After an action-packed first leg in France, the tie hung in the balance with a score of 3-3. Die Wolfinnen certainly would have backed themselves to get the job done at home, but they were once again faced with a strong Paris FC performance.
This time, the French capital club scored first and held on to their lead for the rest of the 90 minutes, after which they added some insurance to seal the deal.
So, Wolfsburg’s 11-year streak of reaching the UWCL quarter-finals has ended even before the group stage!
🌍 UEFA Men’s Euro 2024 Qualifiers: England 3-1 Italy
A repeat of the last men’s European Championship final (stadium and everything) was a pivotal match in the upcoming editions qualifying campaign, as England and Italy started the match as the two top sides in their group.
England knew a win would mathematically seal their tickets to Germany, but for Italy, it was imperative that they picked up all three points to avoid setting up a head-to-head decider against Ukraine.
Luciano Spalletti’s side looked pretty good early on and took the lead through Gianluca Scamacca in the 15th minute, but it all soon went downhill from there.
Harry Kane brought England back level from the penalty spot before half-time, after which Marcus Rashford put them in front through a devastating counter-attack and then Kane sealed the deal with about 15 minutes left on the clock.
Ukraine suffered a scare but ultimately got the job done against Malta, so they are currently in a slightly better position to qualify from this group along with England.
🌍 FIFA Men’s World Cup 2026 CONMEBOL Qualifiers: Uruguay 2-0 Brazil
Over in the World Cup qualifiers, Brazil have suffered another setback after their 1-1 draw with Venezuela last week.
This time, they have tasted defeat against Marcelo Bielsa’s Uruguay, who have leapfrogged them for second place in the table. That does not mean much, but the fact that Brazil are just three points above the qualification line after four matches has to be seen as a concern.
The worst part of this match was the concerning injury Neymar suffered. The Al-Hilal superstar had to be stretchered off, and we now know that he damaged his ACL to the point that he will have to undergo surgery.
That will rule him out of action for quite a few months for club and country, and you have to wonder how many more major injuries he can bounce back from.
🌍 FIFA Men’s World Cup 2026 AFC Qualifiers: Mongolia 0-1 Afghanistan (0-2 on aggregate)
We already know ten teams will not participate in the FIFA World Cup as the first round of AFC qualifiers has ended.
There have already been a good few big stories such as Pakistan’s first-ever World Cup qualification tie success after 34 attempts in as many years, but the most dramatic of the lot has to be the one from the Afghanistan camp.
After their 1-0 success at home against Mongolia in the first leg, there seemed to be an internal revolt from the players against the head coach Abdullah Al-Mutairi, who they deemed to be not up to the standards with his training, tactics and such.
They did not want him on the touchline for the second leg, but the federation decided to wait for it to end before sacking him.
That led to quite a bit of drama and panic in the lead-up to the match.
The federation’s hand was then forced so they had to sack him, leaving his assistant to take charge.
Despite all this chaos, the Afghani players put together a resolute display and came away with another 1-0 victory to advance to the second round.
Stats courtesy Soccerdonna and FotMob.
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