For once this season, Chelsea have the underdog status as they go into their Champions League clash against Bayern Munich this weekend.
The Blues lost the first leg of the semi-final 2-1, and now must overturn that deficit for a place in the Champions League final. Will they manage it?
Sydney Lohmann opened the scoring for Bayern last week, before Melanie Leupolz grabbed an all-important away goal for Chelsea.
Although Hanna Glas went on to score a winner for Bayern, Chelsea will be relieved they have a lifeline through the away goal. Indeed, the Blues will only have to triumph 1-0 to secure progression to the final.
Chelsea also boast the home advantage. They have been imperious at Kingsmeadow this season, only losing once, and they will be motivated to continue their winning ways.
Vice-captain Millie Bright suggested exactly this in an interview on Chelsea’s website.
“They’ve got to come to our ground now and anyone that comes to Kingsmeadow will find it difficult,” she said. “It’s our home ground, our pitch, our home, it’s going to be a big game and we will leave everything out on the pitch.”
Defensive performance must improve
A 1-0 victory against German giants Bayern Munich is easier said than done. To manage such a result, Chelsea must improve on their defensive performance from last week.
Both of Bayern’s goals were the product of defensive errors, and Chelsea manager Emma Hayes has been pragmatic about her team’s chances of keeping a clean sheet.
“The realities are, if we’re going to progress, we’re probably going to have to score more than one goal,” she said, as reported by Sky Sports.
“For us, let’s focus on doing what we’ve done so well this season going forward, eliminate the errors because ultimately both their goals came from poor defensive mistakes from us.
“I trust the group, I trust what we know and just deliver the performance I know we’re capable of.”
Many of Chelsea’s defensive woes are down to the absence of Magda Eriksson. The centre-back has been out with injury since mid-April, and Chelsea have been struggling to cope without her.
Hayes has not yet revealed whether Eriksson will be fit to play in this weekend’s second-leg, but her presence – or lack of – could be crucial to Chelsea’s chances of overturning the deficit.
If Chelsea do indeed need to score more than one goal, they will need the likes of Sam Kerr, Fran Kirby and Pernille Harder to be firing on all cylinders. Although this is almost expected from the most feared attacking trio in women’s football, complacency cannot set in.
If Chelsea were to beat the odds and make it to the Champions League final, it would be a landmark moment for numerous reasons.
It would be the first time Chelsea reach the final of the Women’s Champions League, and the first British team to do so since Arsenal in 2007. Emma Hayes would also become the first female coach to reach the final of the Women’s Champions League since 2009.
There would also be the chance of both Chelsea’s men and women’s teams lifting the Champions League. The men’s side is yet to play the second-leg of their semi-final against Real Madrid, but drew 1-1 with the Spanish giants in the first leg.
Chelsea’s clash against Bayern Munich is set to take place at 12:30pm on Sunday May 2nd. The match will be broadcast live on BT Sport 1.