Emma Hayes held a press conference this afternoon ahead of Chelsea FC Women’s big Champions League game versus Atletico Madrid tomorrow evening.
The Blues host Atletico Madrid in the round of 16 of the European competition on Wednesday night, with the fixture to kick-off at 7pm.
While facing the media via Zoom at Cobham, the Chelsea boss outlined her expectations of the opposition, while giving an update on team news and her squad’s preparations.
Hayes also spoke about former Chelsea goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl who now plays for Atletico Madrid.
The Chelsea manager believes Atletico Madrid will be confident going into our round of 16 tie and said we must not underestimate the Spanish side
‘It’s the tie that we wanted, it’s certainly the game that we wanted to play and the opponent we wanted.
‘We have full respect for the work they’ve done, especially knocking out Man City in the last two years but we don’t underestimate them.
‘To be honest with you I’d rather have a really tough test to see where we are at this stage of the season and we’re just really looking forward to it.
‘I’ve learnt that these are the teams that you absolutely must pay the most attention to and I’ve prepared the team with the detail that is necessary like I do every week.
‘Like I said, they have defeated Man City so for them they are going into the game full of confidence, they know that they perform well in cups and this is a cup competition that they will be fully prepared for.’
Hayes gave an update on Millie Bright and Fran Kirby’s fitness and confirmed they are both available to play tomorrow…
‘It’s fair to say that this time of the year players are going to be managing situations.’
‘Millie is a player that will put herself through absolutely anything to play games of football and the realities are that she took a knock before the international camp, she was just having some issues around her hamstring tendon and it’s taken a little bit of time to settle down, but it’s settled down and she’s fit to play.
‘Fran is fine. In the Bristol game she said to me at half-time that she was struggling a little bit, she came off after 60 minutes because she couldn’t continue in the game and she’s taken the right amount of time to get it right during the international break and she too is fit to play.’
It’s a busy month ahead for Hayes and her team with at least six fixtures in March, however, the Chelsea manager is relishing the opportunity to be competing for trophies in all competitions
‘I want to play in the biggest competitions and I want to be at the latter stages, I don’t want to be thinking about spare weekends in any tournament so I’m really happy that we’ve got that and we must embrace it and relish the challenges ahead.
‘I approach every game the same I do every week, I’m thoroughly professional about every game we play and to do it any differently just sells the team short.
‘I do have a mindset that you have to train every day like it’s a final and we take our work seriously here and the players have to apply themselves every week, not just Champions League week.
‘There’s always big conversations around Chelsea and the Champions League but the realities are that we compete for trophies every year and it doesn’t matter what trophy it is, we just want to be competing and getting to finals and winning big games and that’s what we’ve done in the time since I’ve been here.’
Hayes spoke highly of former Blues goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl, who we are likely to come up against on Wednesday evening
‘Hedvig is a legend of this football club and she is probably the player that came to this football club at the top of her game and transformed our results on the pitch.
‘She will go down as a legend of this football club for the contributions she’s made to the trophies that we’ve won and I never underestimate Hedvig Lindahl.
‘I know her qualities inside and out and I’m very grateful and thankful for what she’s done for this football club but my job is to make sure she’s on the wrong end tomorrow evening.’
This first leg is available to watch live on BT Sport 2 and coverage begins at 6:45pm. Our international fans can also watch the clash on ChelseaFC.com and the 5th Stand app (geographical restrictions may apply).