“There is a maturity to the team that’s coming through in each performance,” stated Emma Hayes after Chelsea secured their third victory of the 2022/23 Champions League campaign.
While it wasn’t a scintillating performance as the Blues saw their way through a potentially tricky Real Madrid encounter, it was one that was controlled and well managed. As Hayes pointed out, Chelsea’s experience showed as she labelled her group “the best team” she’s had. “When these teams are so evenly matched, I’m starting to see the benefit of our experience,” she said. “Look at my group and the leaders in my group. I thought two years ago, we had a decent amount of experience, but this team is another level.”
The second night of Champions League action saw Chelsea travel to Paris for a highly anticipated encounter against PSG. They edged to a 1-0 victory thanks to a first half goal from Millie Bright, completing a successful week for English teams in France.
England U19s face Germany in their final group game of Euro 2022 on Sunday evening. With a win and defeat in their opening two matches, they know that a victory is what is needed to see them progress to the semi-finals.
“I have to say I was blown away with the girls in the second half the way they attacked the game…I thought physically, we just stepped up so many levels, and arguably could have scored more goals against a really dangerous team in Chelsea.”
Gareth Taylor was delighted with his Manchester City side as they lifted their fourth Continental Cup trophy, the second piece of silverware under his stewardship. His satisfaction was warranted after a second half performance which saw City dispatch of Chelsea in a way rarely seen these days.
“I just love those games [against Manchester City]. Every manager enjoys certain types of games…There’s zero to separate [us] year on year. I really respect them as a football club and what they’ve done for women’s football.”
On the eve of the 2022 Continental Cup Final, Emma Hayes was relishing the latest meeting between her Chelsea side and their close rivals, Manchester City. Despite all their battles over the last few years, this will in fact be the first time these two sides have met in a major final, with their semi-final meetings infamous at this stage.
“I think it was a very, very entertaining game. I think it was the best game that has been played in the league so far this season. It was two very, very good teams. And I think both teams had chances to win the game.”
That was Jonas Eidevall’s conclusion to a scintillating night of football that saw the two best teams in the country go head-to head.
It is hard to disagree with him. Not many things are certain in life but entertaining London derbies in the FAWSL are one of them. We were in for a treat on Friday, an extravaganza of football that was described by one commentator as the “most exciting 0-0 draw” he’d ever seen.
“I love the group stage. Such a great idea. It was so needed, and it’s really helped. I think it will help every team and develop the pool of quality teams across Europe.”
As the Champions League returned for its final two match days in the Group stage, Chelsea manager, Emma Hayes, made a ringing endorsement for the competition’s new format. Drama, high quality football, big stadia, increased visibility and much more – the Champions League Group Stage has had it all. As the final games of this new addition come to an end, it seems as good a time as any to reflect on what a brilliant adaptation it has been.
It’s the nature of football at this time of year that as soon as one game is done, the following one is no more than 72 hours round the corner.
And so it is for Chelsea this week. Sunday’s FA Cup winners move swiftly onto the next challenge with the arrival of Juventus and a chance to qualify for the latter stages of the Champions League. It is a situation this team and their manager, Emma Hayes, are very much used to and at this point comfortable with: “We’ve been here so many times and because of that, we just know how to do it. It’s not unusual for us anymore to be in a Cup Final at Wembley and play three days later. This is normal for us, so I think it’s just business as usual.”