Chelsea Women under pressure to perform in Champions League, says Emma Hayes

Atletico Madrid await the Blues in the last 16 of the competition

Sonia Twigg
Tuesday 02 March 2021 17:10
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Chelsea Women coach Emma Hayes (centre left) with her players
Chelsea Women coach Emma Hayes (centre left) with her players

Emma Hayes has admitted Chelsea are facing pressure to succeed in the Women’s Champions League this year, but said her team will not treat the competition differently to any other.

Chelsea did not qualify for the Champions League last season, having finished third in the Women’s Super League, but prior to that failure they were twice eliminated in the semi-finals.

In 2019, the Blues were beaten by eventual winners Lyon and also lost to Wolfsburg at the same stage in 2018, but they currently top the WSL, having lost just one match all season and conceded just eight goals.

READ MORE: Women’s Champions League last-16 ties revealed

“I think everybody around Europe is probably loving the kind of pressure that’s being put on Chelsea and the pressure that is being put on this year for our team and what’s expected of them while Manchester City are not being spoken about,” Hayes said.

Atletico Madrid won the Supercopa final against Levante in January and knocked out Manchester City in the last 16 of the 2019-20 Women’s Champions League and the season before.

However, the Spanish club have struggled in the league this season, and currently sit third in the table, 13 points behind leaders Barcelona having not played since before the international break on 14 February.

“I think every game is difficult, the Chelsea manager said.

“It’s certainly the tie that we wanted to play, it was the opponent we wanted, we have full respect for the work they’ve done especially knocking out Man City the last two years but we don’t underestimate them.

“To be honest with you I’d rather have a real tough test and see where we are at this stage of the season than not so we’re just really looking forward to it.”

Chelsea and England defender Millie Bright believes the side are ready now after their disappointment at not being involved in the competition last season.

“Yes I think we’ve got all the ingredients, I think we’ve got everything in front of us to go and do it we just have to put words into action now and get the job done,” said Bright.

“We’ve come very close in all times that we’ve been a part of it, our last outing in the UWCL was our best run, and so close yet so far away.

“However, I do feel like we’re ready now, I think we’ve shown that in the league, we’ve shown how ruthless we can be, how strong defensively we can be, but again you just have to prepare for the game that’s in front of you. We’ve prepared very well, as we do for every game, but yeh, it’s the one we wanted, so just excited to get out there and get going.”

PA

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