Fran Kirby believes the trust and belief among the Chelsea squad can play a huge role in this afternoon’s UEFA Women’s Champions League semi-final first leg against Bayern Munich.
Chelsea go into Sunday’s game having beat Benfica, Atletico Madrid, and Wolfsburg in previous rounds, with the Blues providing many memorable moments along the way.
It was Kirby that helped get our Champions League campaign up and running when she netted in the opening minute of our first leg against Benfica, a goal that saw our No.14 become Chelsea Women’s all-time leading goalscorer.
Goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger was the hero as she produced three penalty saves to help the Blues progress past Atletico, while Sam Kerr won a spot-kick and also found the net in Chelsea’s impressive 3-0 second leg win over last year’s finalist Wolfsburgs. Ahead of our latest test, Kirby insists the players we have at our disposal can help fire the Blues to victory this afternoon.
She said: ‘This season we’ve had many players who have come up with match-winning moments and players doing individual brilliance to get us out of trouble and that shows the winning mentality we have in this team. We never give up and we never back down from any challenge we have.
‘We all have a real confidence in each other. I have confidence in the back-line that they are going to keep a clean sheet and they have confidence in us that we can go up the other end and score if we get the chances.
‘It’s a winning mentality but it’s a lot of confidence between all of us. We all have each other’s back and we all know, regardless of who is playing, they are going to give everything.
‘We have a style of play and everyone understands that style of play. We know how we want to beat these teams and how we want to play against them. Everyone is on the same page and everyone has confidence in one another.’
Chelsea are fighting on all fronts at the business end of the season, which is testament to the performances produced by the Blues on a consistent basis throughout the 2020/21 campaign.
It’s because of those constant high-standard showings that means, with each game between now and the end of the season, comes high stakes, but Kirby insists the Blues will focus on each game as it comes, starting with this afternoon’s first leg against Bayern.
Kirby added: ‘That’s one thing we have done all season - we have treated it like it’s any other game.
‘Every game is just as important as the next. In the position that we are in, we can’t afford to lose games, in the league or the Champions League, so it’s not much different for us.
‘It’s about focusing on the task in hand, focusing on the analysis, focusing on each game as it comes and not on what is happening in the background.
‘It’s one of those ones where you do have to get yourself up for it, but also at the same time you have to manage those emotions, otherwise you may get too excited or too nervous and anything can happen so it’s about staying middle grounded.’
It was Kirby who netted a vital away goal on a historic night back in 2017, as the Blues beat Bayern, who were one of the highest-rated teams in the competition that year, to progress to the last 16 of the Champions League.
Like many Chelsea fans, Kirby holds dear memories of our last competitive meeting with this afternoon’s opponents.
Kirby said: ‘That was a nice memory for me in the Champions League. That game was probably the biggest in terms of where the club ended up confidence-wise. Getting that draw, we always knew it was going to be a tough game.
‘Both teams have evolved since then, both teams have pushed and progressed. We still have some of the girls who played in that game and they have some of the girls that played in that game as well so I’m sure there could be some rivalry there.
‘It was a great achievement for this team and the club and it really put us on the map in terms of building our confidence. Hopefully we can take that into the game but we also know that they have improved and progressed as a team.
‘They are fighting for silverware in their domestic leagues as well, so we have to make sure we are ready to go up against them.’
This afternoon’s match kicks-off at 4pm UK time and is available to watch live on BT Sport.