Match Preview

Hayes: We’ve got to push on to go one step closer

Emma Hayes has challenged her players to raise their game when Chelsea Women face Bayern Munich in the first leg of our UEFA Women’s Champions League semi-final on Sunday.

Chelsea go into our last-four clash in confident mood having consistently produced match-winning performances in this season’s Champions League and domestic campaigns.

The Blues have played in two Champions League semi-finals but have suffered losses on both occasions and Hayes says her players know what they have to do, to take Chelsea one step further.

Speaking in Friday’s press conference, Hayes said: ‘There is a confidence going into the game on Sunday, it’s relaxed.

‘Once we get to the position we are in, where we can grind out results and be in the position we are in, we know what it takes to get to the next step.

‘That’s going to be the next challenge for the team, we’ve got to push on to go one step closer.’

Chelsea last reached the last four of the Champions League in 2019 but fell just short of the final after a 3-2 aggregate defeat to current holders Lyon.

Since that loss to Lyon, Hayes has built a squad who are leading the way in England and competing with the best in Europe and the Chelsea manager believes our current squad have enough quality to achieve a different outcome in this year’s semi-final.

She added: ‘Every coach will tell you, the game that you lose like that one, that stays with you. You are always reminded of it because you don’t want to be in the position again.

‘What I’ve said is that getting to the point we are at now hasn’t just happened, this has been a lot of hard work over a long period of time.

‘It’s not about squeezing as much information in as you can, far from it, we prepare as we normally would and go into the game knowing that we have a squad capable of doing what we want.’

One player who will be aware of the challenge the Blues will face on Sunday is German international Melanie Leupolz and Hayes revealed she’s been picking the brains of the former Bayern Munich player.

Hayes said: ‘She has always got the most charming smile around this building and she is a top professional.

‘One of the reasons she came to this football club is to challenge for the biggest honours so I know her mind will be fully focused on what she needs to do and not let her emotions get in the way.

‘My players are my biggest source of information in terms of how to keep finding solutions and of course I communicate to all the players about their input into the game plan.

‘That is critical, not just for the Bayern purpose but to make sure everybody knows what is expected and to gain insight where necessary.’

Sunday’s game kicks-off at 4pm UK time (5pm CET) and is available to watch live on BT Sport.

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