Chelsea Women’s Guro Reiten is relishing the chance to return to Stamford Bridge when the Blues take on Barcelona in the first leg of our UEFA Women’s Champions League semi-final on Saturday.
Having progressed to this stage with a dramatic quarter-final victory over Lyon last month, Barcelona stand in our way of reaching a second European final in three years. The eagerly awaited first instalment of this two-legged encounter promises to be a momentous occasion for the team.
Maren Mjelde and Ann-Katrin Berger stole the headlines as the Blues earned our semi-final place with that epic penalty shoot-out victory over eight-time Champions Lyon in SW6. We return to the Bridge in front of our supporters looking to take one step closer to the final in Eindhoven.
Reiten, a shining star this season, took the chance to reflect on where our path to the semi-finals began at the end of last year. An unbeaten group stage saw us take 16 points from 18 available and the Norway international says this generated belief that we can compete at the top table.
‘It was a really tough group, really good opponents in every game,’ she said. ‘We couldn’t take anything for granted and that made us better. We proved ourselves in every single game, we deserved three points and we had one draw. We were the best team in our group.
‘PSG at home at Stamford Bridge was a massive game for us. The way we played that game was very good, it gave us a lot of confidence because last season we didn’t make it through the group stage. It gave us confidence knowing we are capable of playing good football against teams in Europe.’
Our progression to the knockout phase saw us pitted against serial winners Lyon in the quarter-finals. Reiten scored the winning goal in the first leg across the Channel and believes there was more expectation on the French outfit while praising our ability to deliver when it mattered.
‘Lyon were a very different opponent with the way they play football, but at the same time they won last year’s Champions League. We came into that game with less pressure than normal, we could go out and enjoy it.
‘We followed our game plan and by doing that we succeeded. We know if we do what we’ve planned and we’re ruthless in the moments when we have to be, we are good enough to beat anyone.’
Ahead of returning to Stamford Bridge for a European semi-final against Barcelona, Reiten hopes the team can enjoy the moment and seize the opportunity to show what they are capable of on the biggest stage.
‘It’s going to be really cool, hopefully not as exciting as the last time we played there because that game was madness! It’s going to be an interesting game and hopefully we can go out there, enjoy ourselves and have fun!
‘There aren’t many times in your career you play Barcelona in the semi-finals of the Champions League so make the most of it and believe in yourself. We have a great team and we are going to show it.’