Women’s Champions League: Chelsea versus Lyon – ‘I am even more excited to watch my players play this week than I was last week.’

Emma Hayes and her captain Karen Carney held a press conference at Cobham today ahead of the semi-final return leg against Lyon at Kingsmeadow on Sunday.

Chelsea Women’s home ground is set to stage the biggest game in the Blues’ history in front of a sold-out crowd and Emma Hayes is looking forward to her side performing in front of our loyal fans after a strong week of preparation. We trail 2-1 from the first leg.

The game is live on Chelsea TV and The 5th Stand. Kick-off 2pm

‘I have got a fully fit squad that are full focused on the task ahead at the weekend,’ she reported. ‘I’m disappointed by the result at the weekend but I know that the team has another level in them. We know that we have to be at our best and I will be challenging the group as I have done all week to show their best level which I don’t think we have yet.

‘And ultimately, I am looking forward to a packed house on Sunday with our loyal fan base that will make it difficult for the opponent. We will use our collective wisdom to make it an incredibly difficult afternoon for Lyon.

‘Our crowd is unbelievable and I am certain on Sunday that I will hear every single one of them to inspire the players to produce a performance that I expect for this team, and if we produce that performance then we give ourselves the best possible chance. I am even more excited to watch my players play this week than I was last week.’

Playing better and the away goal

Despite suffering that defeat in the first leg, Carney commented on the belief and confidence levels within the team and Hayes highlighted the importance of scoring an away goal courtesy of Erin Cuthbert.

‘Yeah, we are confident, we are always confident going into a game,’ said the skipper. ‘Like Emma said, I still think we have got a couple of gears in us. We played well but we can play better, we can be braver and we can work harder. There is still more for us to show.

‘There is no pressure for us, I think there is more pressure for Lyon. So, for us we just need to go out express ourselves and enjoy the moment. But yeah, I think we can push harder and be better.’

Hayes added to Carney’s comments. ‘I always believed that we would get an away goal. We have shown in this competition in the past couple of years that we are capable of doing that, so that’s no surprise to me. I think that became the priority for the team probably before the game and at the end of it I have to be pleased that we got that.

‘If we continue to build our quality around their box and display a little bit more clinical play, there are more goals in the team.’

Competing and attacking power

Hayes spoke about the prospect of getting to the first Champions League final in our history, but she knows that we must not get ahead of ourselves, with Sunday’s second leg to overcome first.

‘The important part, as we know because we’ve been in this position before, is that you have to take every step one moment at a time, and to start thinking about how we are going to perform tomorrow and how we are going to the next day in preparation for Sunday.

‘We are not delusional, we know that Lyon will come at us with everything they have got. They have got star power, they have got lots of money, they have got lots of titles behind them, they have got lots of confidence in their own ability. But this team will throw in equal measure as much in Lyon’s direction.

‘We have shown that they are humans, we have shown that we can compete effectively and that if we make it difficult for them to settle into the game then absolutely anything is possible, including an early goal.’

Carney said that she was not surprised by the team’s resilience to fight and dig deep to get back into the game after being 2-0 down in the first half and insisted that her team are under no pressure going into the game on Sunday.

‘I wasn’t surprised. We have got an amazing front-line, we have got an amazing team, even people on the bench and in the stands. We have got world-class players in Ji, Ramona Bachamnn, Fran Kirby and the rest of the team, so no I’m not surprised that we do get chances.

‘I think we can create chances and I totally agree with Emma, we are disappointed with our performance because we did create chances. I still think we could be a lot better and possess the ball more, be more ruthless and more clinical.’

The manager has every faith in her players, but she knows that her side will suffer on Sunday.

‘We are good enough, we are ready, we are capable and I have always said it will take several years before an English team competes but we are getting closer to that.

‘We are not taking anything away from Lyon’s achievements, they are a wonderful, wonderful football team but we don’t live in fear.

‘This is an environment where everybody knows that you have to perform and that’s the expectation but also you have to suffer and that will happen again this week so we have to show that we can cope and that we can fight back.

‘We are going to have to work harder than we have ever worked at the weekend and so I am excited to see that. I am even more excited to see how our crowd are going to push the team on to produce an even better performance than they did last week.’