Karen Carney relishing playing Lyon in front of big crowd

With Chelsea Women to take on Lyon at Groupama Stadium in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final later today, Karen Carney is looking forward to a huge occasion and the chance for her team to showcase its talents…

A crowd of over 20,000 is expected in the Lyon’s main stadium. The Blues captain played against today’s opposition back in 2008 during her Arsenal days, since when the French club have been crowned European champions five times, including in the previous three years.

‘I think that was the start of their journey back then,’ recalls Carney of that tie over a decade ago.

‘Fair play to the football club, they have heavily invested into the women’s side and that’s helped them along their way and they are rightly the current champions of Europe.’

Carney spoke about the strength the Lyon team possess, but also noted that Chelsea Women are part way through a plan and are on a journey to reach the same level as our opponents in the upper bracket of the women’s game.

‘We are coming through our project as well but they are still dominant with the amount of money they have spent, and they have the titles to show for it. They have got every player you would want in a position, excluding Chelsea players of course. With the budget that they have, they can go and get whoever they want, whenever they want and they have earnt that given they are the champions.

‘They are a top team but we have got some world-class players in our team. I get the joy of playing with Ji So-Yun everyday who for me is world class and I’m excited to see her play in this game, if she gets on.

‘We have got world-class players in our team and I’m excited for them to showcase their talent. It’s an exciting challenge and we are really looking forward to it.'

Carney, who is a regular in the Lionesses squad, highlighted the similarities between top English and French football after recently knocking PSG out of the competition at the quarter-final round.

‘We have played PSG and we are going to be playing Lyon and they are the two top teams in French football.

‘We haven’t had the opportunity to play other French teams within the league but when I have played the French national team, they are very technical and very quick. Everything you expect from a top side really and I don’t think there is much difference between English and French football.

‘I think they are quite similar, quite transitional, quick and technical so I hope for the spectators that it is a fantastic game. For a neutral I think it will be a really good game because it’s two top teams going at each other.’

Although the Women’s World Cup is fast approaching with the final being staged at the home of OL, the midfielder’s focus lies solely on the Champions League, rather than the tournament in the summer.

‘I think I am the type of person that takes each day as it comes and I am focused on the Champions League and Chelsea at this current time and I am sure the rest of the other girls are as well.

Read: 50 days until Chelsea Women on world stage

‘Can’t deny that this is the stadium of the World Cup final, it’s a fantastic stadium and I am sure it will be an amazing venue for the final and hopefully there will be many Chelsea girls in that final. But we are solely focusing on the Champions League and the task ahead – I am solely focused on getting this team into the final.

‘I thought it was an amazing experience in Paris. If you don’t want to be in a semi-final in front of thousands of people at a spectacular venue, then you are in the wrong job, we’re thoroughly looking forward to it.’

How to follow

This afternoon’s match will be shown live for free on The 5th Stand and will also be on Chelsea TV.

You can also follow the action via our social media channels. There will be live text commentary on our Twitter page, regular updates on Facebook and behind-the-scenes footage on our Instagram Story. Simply search 'ChelseaFCW' on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for all content.

Second leg at the home of Chelsea Women

Next Sunday (April 28) will be your final opportunity to support the Blues at home as we welcome Lyon to Kingsmeadow for the second leg of the contest. Kick-off is 2pm and free tickets are available for concessions, with entry for all other supporters being just £6. Tickets can be purchased via our online ticket or at the gate on the match day.

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