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'More to come from Chelsea,' says Hayes ahead of crucial Champions League clash

·4-min read
Chelsea manager Emma Hayes is hoping to progress to the Women's Champions League semi-finals with victory over German giants Wolfsburg © REUTERS
Chelsea manager Emma Hayes is hoping to progress to the Women's Champions League semi-finals with victory over German giants Wolfsburg © REUTERS

Emma Hayes believes there is still “another level” to come from Chelsea as they prepare to face German giants Wolfsburg in the second leg of their Women’s Champions League quarter-final tie.

The London club are currently 2-1 up on aggregate after they won last week’s match, the ‘home’ leg of a tie in which both clashes are taking place at the same ground in Budapest due to coronavirus restrictions.

Despite the possibility of a team winning on away goals, manager Hayes’ sights are firmly focused on claiming an outright victory.

“We play to win,” she said. "I don't look at home and away, we play to our game and to do what's expected regardless of it being home or away.

“Anything less than aspiring to do that is non-existent. The players know what we will expect and I think they're really reflective of their performance last week. I think we've had time to analyse our performance and what we did and I know there's another level to come from us yet.”

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After netting another two on Sunday against Aston Villa, the combination of Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby has now resulted in ten goals in the Women’s Super League.

Impressively, this is the first full campaign that ‘Kerrby’, as fans have taken to calling the partnership, have played together. Kerr joined Chelsea in January 2020, while Kirby spent an extended period of time on the sidelines due to suffering from pericarditis.

“You don't come across these types of partnerships easily and sometimes they're formed over many, many years,” Hayes said.

“I think if you'd asked Sam Kerr if she could find anyone to service her with goals like Yuki Nagasato did [at the Chicago Red Stars], I think she would question whether that could happen.

“What I know is that Sam was looking forward to playing with Fran Kirby more than any other player in our squad because she saw the potential between them and vice-versa.

“They just get each other and that's not coached. That's just trying to put them in the right spaces and then they figured the rest out. They're talented, world-class players and I think all of the praise given to both of them is fully justified.”

Wolfsburg present a stern challenge for Emma Hayes’ side. They have won the past four Frauen-Bundesliga titles, and on the three occasions that the two sides have met in the Champions League, the Germans have come out on top every time.

Ahead of the match, Blues captain Magdalena Eriksson spoke of the quality Wolfsburg possess going forward, and also lauded Chelsea goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger, who performed to a high standard in the last leg, as the best No.1 on the planet.

“If you look at their front four, front five players, they’re world-class in every position,” she said. “They have a great physical presence, they have a different style of play than we're maybe used to playing against and they're very direct and very aggressive in their play.

“We've definitely learnt a lot from that game and we've looked at it and analysed it and I think we're going to be even more prepared to go into the second leg [than the first].

“That being said, it's still going to be very difficult because of the quality of their players so we're going to have to be on top form like [Ann-Katrin Berger] was the other night.

“She's been amazing for us this whole season, she's really stepping up in the moments where we really need her and in my opinion, she's the best goalkeeper in the world.”

Overcoming the hurdle at which they have failed to pass three times in their European history would be a sign of Chelsea’s progression in recent years, according to the Swedish defender.

“It would be a massive achievement for us. Wolfsburg have a great history in this tournament so to be able to do that would be a great, great achievement and a great stepping stone of what we want to achieve and what our goals and aspirations are with this club,” Eriksson continued.

“It would mean everything. There's still a lot of work to be done, but I'm very confident that we can do it.”