Hayes: Paris in the Spring

Chelsea Women manager Emma Hayes is very happy with dates with a French connection which await her team, anticipating a great contest between two top sides.

The draw for the Women’s Champions League quarter-finals has paired the Blues with Paris St-Germain for the first time, with the two-legged tie to take place in March.

There is plenty of domestic action before then, including this Sunday with a home match against Yeovil Town Ladies, but the European fixtures are still ones to look forward to.

‘I think it’s a great draw: Chelsea versus PSG in the quarter-finals of the Champions League,’ says Hayes.

‘The best players want to play in the best games, and this is certainly one of them. I don’t think it matters who you draw at this stage, because they are all top teams. Paris are the second best team in France, they’re full of internationals and while there may have been easier opponents to face, we’ll go into the tie confident. We’ve been building our way through this competition and we are better prepared than ever to go one step further.’

That step is to reach the final, having been in the last-four last season for the first time, losing out to Wolfsburg.

Hayes points out that PSG have already taken that step, having appeared in the 2015 and 2017 finals. They were defeated by Frankfurt and most recently on penalties by Lyon.

‘I’m sure they’ll be confident,’ she adds, ‘but I feel fully confident we can progress if we can keep applying ourselves the way we are. We’ve become tougher to beat.

‘There’s a good rivalry between the two clubs, with the men’s teams having met several times in the Champions League, and I think it will be a brilliant spectacle.’

The first leg is at home on either 20 or 21 March with the away leg on 27 or 28 March. Hayes sees no advantage in playing at Kingsmeadow or in Paris first and is not yet ready to talk about a potential semi-final which, should the Blues progress from the quarter-final, would pit us against either Wolfsburg again or Lyon.

‘You’ve just got to take one game at a time,’ she insists, ‘so there’s no point looking ahead to either of them. We’ve got to focus on beating Paris – that’s my sole focus when it comes to this competition. We need to keep improving and if we do that we’ll be closer to the top teams.’

This weekend, on Sunday at 2pm, it is all eyes on Kingsmeadow for a Women’s Super League game against Yeovil. Click for tickets which are just £6 adults and £3 juniors and seniors