“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.
“I’ve faced that opponent so many times and felt humiliated and lost. And I always thought they were the benchmark for women’s football alongside Lyon. So, it’s a really, really proud day for English football.”
Emma Hayes was full of praise for her side following their emphatic performance in the second leg of their Champions League quarter final against Wolfsburg. The enormity of this win is not lost on us. Having travelled to see Chelsea play in each of their last meetings with the She Wolves in this competition, it seemed like it was never going to happen for them. They had become Chelsea’s bogey team, and it felt like a cruel joke that they were drawn against them again this year.
Champions League football returned to Kingsmeadow last night with a bang. In a match that had everything – from red cards to penalty saves – Chelsea hosted Atlético Madrid in a testing Round of 16 fixture.