As she looks forward to Chelsea Women’s big Champions League game tonight, Emma Hayes is not paying too much attention to Lyon’s results and performances early this season. Instead, she has suggested what is of more relevance to the contest we can expect to watch is the fact only the first chapter of this quarter-final tie will be written in France.
We met the European and French champions in a pre-season friendly in Portland, Oregon back in August. The Blues were impressive, dominating Lyon and going 2-0 ahead before a flurry of substitutions disrupted the contest and they fought back to draw 2-2 before winning on penalties.
The second leg of this tie is at Stamford Bridge next Thursday 30 March and tickets for the game are on sale now, with prices starting at just £9 for adults and £1 for juniors and seniors.
A few weeks later, Lyon were humbled 5-1 at home by Arsenal in their first Champions League fixture of the campaign, but Hayes does not think those games will count for anything tonight.
‘It was a phenomenal performance from Arsenal early on in the season, but we also saw Lyon go to Arsenal and win 1-0,’ Hayes pointed out.
‘We know Lyon are a top side. Earlier in the season they were missing a lot of players. That’s not the case now. They have a lot of their experienced players back.
‘There are certainly things from Arsenal’s performance that night that reminded us of some of the things we repeated in the pre-season game against Lyon, but this is a very different game and Lyon are at a very different stage than they were earlier in the season.’
What Hayes can predict is that it will be cagey tonight, accentuated by the removal of the away goals rule from European competition since we last played Lyon away in 2019.
‘I say to the team often you can’t win the tie here but you can absolutely lose it.
‘Both teams will spend part of the game, even though we played in pre-season, working each other out, particularly in the first half. That’s what happens, especially over two legs.
‘I think both games will be very different, but I can’t predict the future and I don’t know exactly what they will look like.
‘We understand there are no away goals,’ added Hayes.
‘I’m an advocate of that. For us, we just have to keep producing performances like we have so far in Europe, and we’re going to see two very good teams in Europe.’