Mjelde: Excited and confident

Chelsea Ladies take on Montpellier in the first leg of our Champions League quarter-final tonight and Maren Mjelde, who is hugely experienced at the highest level, believes we can secure a positive result to bring back to Kingsmeadow for next week’s decisive return.

The Blues have never reached this stage of the competition but Emma Hayes’s side, who have already seen off Bayern Munich and Rosengard, have nothing to fear as we go into tonight’s game in the South of France.

Currently top – and unbeaten – in WSL 1, Chelsea Ladies have looked strong, solid and very dangerous going forward over the course of the campaign and Mjelde explains why there is such a positive mood in the camp at present.

‘We’re really excited,’ she says. ‘We’re playing against a team we’ve never played before. They’re a French side and very good technically so it will be interesting to play against a new opponent.

‘Champions League matches are always exciting because there are two legs. This time we're playing the away leg first but we’re confident. We’ve been having a great season so far so I’m looking forward to it.’

Capable of producing assured performances in various roles, Mjelde played as the central figure in the back three during Sunday’s 3-0 win over Liverpool, having been deployed in the centre of midfield in our previous game, the 2-2 draw against Manchester City.

‘I’m used to playing in different positions,’ says the 28-year-old. ‘I played in another new one on Sunday and now I’d say I’m more of a defensive player, and it’s my role to help us try to keep a clean sheet tonight against Montpellier.’

The signing of Mjelde, who arrived in January 2017, has proved to be an astute piece of business by the Blues. The Norwegian, who skippers her national side, was the only member of the squad to feature in all 11 games of the triumphant Spring Series, and this season she is our third-highest appearance-maker and has also chipped in with four goals.

As well as her all-round quality, Mjelde brings a wealth of experience and a winning mentality to the side, character traits which could be crucial in big matches like the one we face tonight.

‘At this stage of the competition of course it’s important to have experience in games like this in order to help the team get the victory,’ she explains.

‘We’re here to put in a good performance and hopefully leave ourselves in a good position, and with a good feeling, ahead of the second leg back home.’

Montpellier, as the home side, will be expected to play on the front foot this evening, but Mjelde is confident that collectively we will be able to contain the attacking threat of the hosts, while causing them problems of their own at the other end of the pitch.

‘We’ve been watching videos of them and we know they score a lot of goals from set-pieces and crosses into the box, so we will try to deny them those opportunities as much as possible,’ she says. ‘But we are a good team defensively so I’m pretty confident we will be able to do a good job tonight.

‘In the Champions League away goals are really important but it’s about the two games. We know we are strong at Kingsmeadow so it’s probably a good thing that we will play the second leg there.’

- You can watch coverage of tonight's game, which kicks off at 7.45pm UK time, live on Chelsea TV and via Chelsea Ladies' official Facebook page. Updates will also come from the Ladies’ official Twitter account @ChelseaLFC.