Lyon’s Jess Fishlock believes English clubs remain some distance behind their European rivals as Chelsea Women attempt to upset the odds and make the Champions League final.
Chelsea’s brilliant quarter-final win over Paris St Germain last month reflected the feel-good mood of the women’s game in England.
Phil Neville’s national team head to the World Cup this summer among the favorites to win the tournament in France, while the Women’s Super League has just attracted a title sponsor and record investment.
But Wales’ most capped international Fishlock, whose globe-trotting career has included spells in Australia, Germany, the United States and now France, says the women’s game in England still has significant steps to make.
“Chelsea’s win against PSG was a good one for them,” Fishlock said ahead of Lyon’s two-legged semi-final with the English champions.
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“But what England really need is their teams being regularly in the semi-finals and the final. Until we see that, the German League and some of the teams in the French League are going to be the more appealing teams to the better players.”
Barclays recently became the first title sponsor of the WSL in a three-year deal worth over £10million.
It is a competition that will feature Manchester United Women next season following their promotion from the Championship.
“The league definitely feels it’s going in the right direction,” midfielder Fishlock told Press Association Sport. But I also feel that it still has a way to go. They’ve got this big deal, but they have to make the league competitive.”
“Yeovil lost 10 points because they’ve got no money, and you see reports that Manchester City are working at a million-dollar budget loss per season. So the league in England needs to find a way to be run self-sufficiently. Until they get to do that, we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Arsenal are the only English side, back in 2007, to have ever won the top prize in European women’s football when the competition was known as the UEFA Women’s Cup.
Lyon have first-leg home advantage against Chelsea on Sunday and start as big favorites to make the final in Budapest on May 18.
The French side have won the Champions League for the past three seasons and the last 12 Division 1 Feminine league titles in France.
Lyon’s star-packed squad includes inaugural Ballon d’Or Feminin winner Ada Hegerberg, England defender Lucy Bronze and France star Eugenie Le Sommer.
“We have a great team,” said Fishlock, who is on loan from American outfit Seattle Reign. We have to make sure we play well on the night, but I believe if we play to our highest level then we’re a very difficult team to beat. The girls are so good and so experienced they can cope with the pressure of having to win again.”
Fishlock received a Champions League winner’s medal at Frankfurt in 2015, although she did not play in the final itself as her loan spell at the German club had ended.
“I played a huge part in that success at Frankfurt and they made me feel part of the team,” she said.
“I didn’t get to play in the final, but I’ve come to Lyon to win a Champions League. That’s what everyone wants to do here and we are confident that we can do it.”