Emma Hayes cannot wait for Chelsea Women to take on Lyon in the semi-final of the Women’s Champions League, with the first leg being played away on Sunday and the return leg at Kingsmeadow on the following Sunday (28 April).
Tomorrow’s game is live on Chelsea TV and The 5th Stand at 4pm UK time.
This is the second consecutive season that the Blues have made it to the semi-final of the Champions League. Last year we exited the European competition at this stage after suffering a 5-1 defeat on aggregate to Wolfsburg. A year on, Hayes is hoping that her team can go one further and reach the final, but first must end Lyon’s unbeaten streak of 24 games.
‘We are going to have to be brave, being brave is putting in a performance where every player individually and collectively makes it difficult for Lyon to have it all their own way,’ she says.
‘There is no denying that the players are going to have to have the game of their life, but we have the resilience and spirit where we are capable of that.’
Hayes considers Chelsea taking on the role as underdogs, explaining her team has learnt from past experiences in the competition and are fully focused on the task ahead.
‘We can expect an even bigger crowd, it’s a stadium that has had a lot of successes, we’re under no illusion how difficult the game is going to be, but it’s important for us to remember all those experiences in the Champions League from the past couple of years and recognise that it’s important to stay in the game.
‘We have nothing to lose, everybody in the world expects Lyon to win, they have some of the best players in the world and they can play a number of different ways. There is an unpredictability about them because they have so many fantastic players, but so do we.
‘I think it is important that the players stand up this weekend and show our capabilities both sides of the ball. If we deliver that performance it won’t all be one way traffic.’
Hayes insists we will use our strengths to our advantage and cause problems for OL at the Groupama Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
‘We understand differences between home and away but it will challenge our team to show our capabilities, our strengths and to create problems for Lyon in a positive manner. We will have to defend for our life and make the tie difficult and capitalise on the opportunities that we get.
‘It’s fair to say they have earnt their place in Europe, but if we want to be considered in the top bracket then we have to deliver a performance that we are capable of.’
Following our recent defeat by Manchester City in the semi-final of the Women’s FA Cup due to an unfortunate own-goal in stoppage time, the Champions League is the only competition we have a shot at winning.
‘Of course, we are disappointed, we expect more from ourselves,’ said the manager on last weekend’s result. ‘But now is the time to show our emotional strength and recover quickly because we have the opportunity to compete for another trophy this weekend so there is no time to dwell on it.
‘We’re in the competition to win, we’re not in the competition to take part and this one I’m really looking forward to,’ Hayes added.
The second leg takes place on Sunday 28 April at Kingsmeadow with a 2pm kick-off and Chelsea are offering free tickets to our junior and senior fans. For all other supporters, entry will be £6 and can be purchased via our online ticketing or on the day.