Women’s Champions League preview: Strong performance still needed

Chelsea Ladies are in Sweden today, looking to make history by reaching the quarter-finals of the Women’s Champions League for the first time in their history. They lead 3-0 from the first leg…
 

HOW TO FOLLOW

The game kicks off at 5.30pm UK time and will be shown live on Chelsea TV and our YouTube channel. Minute-by-minute updates will be available via Twitter @ChelseaLFC.

 

THE FORM

Although our most recent game, away at Reading, ended in a 2-2 draw after the concession of a last-minute own-goal, the general consensus in the Blues camp is that it will be looked upon at the end of the season as a point gained rather than two dropped. A brilliant free-kick from Karen Carney and precise finish by Eniola Aluko had given us a 2-1 lead after we conceded our first goal of the WSL1 season. Prior to that, we had won all six domestic games, including two in the Continental Tyres Cup.

HIGHLIGHTS: Reading Women (A) WSL 2017

Of course, the Reading game was preceded by the first leg of this Women's Champions League tie at Kingsmeadow, with the Blues running out 3-0 winners. Fran Kirby opened the scoring before half-time and Ramona Bachmann and Gilly Flaherty netted after the break to give the game a scoreline which, if anything, flattered the visitors.

That defeat for Rosengard was immediately followed by another in the Swedish top flight as they concluded their Damallsvenskan campaign with a 1-0 home loss against Hammarby on Saturday. Their title hopes had already evaporated before then, and they finish their league season in second place, nine points behind champions Linkopings, the club where Blues defender Magda Eriksson plied her trade before moving to England in the summer.

 

VIEW FROM THE DRESSING ROOM

A three-goal lead from the first leg has understandably given the players plenty of confidence, but Millie Bright (pictured below) has insisted that will not breed complacency for the second leg.

'It was another good performance and a clean sheet, which is massive,' she said. 'We're confident, but we know it's a tough game. The third goal in the first leg takes the pressure off a little bit, but there's still a big job to be done and we won't get ahead of ourselves. We'll keep nice and calm and have a good mentality.

'It shows the level we've come to and how much we've grown as a team, and we've got the experience and the talent to take us forward. Getting the 3-0 win is massive for us, but we've got to go out there and put in another performance.

'We always go into competitions believing we can win them, but we're just taking it step by step and game by game. We've got to make sure we perform in each game. We're confident against every opponent, we always respect them – they're all top-class teams – but we've got the talent and experience to get the job done.'


OTHER CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SCORES

Elsewhere in the Women's Champions League there were very few surprises from the first legs of the last-16 ties. Wolfsburg, Lyon, Barcelona and Manchester City all secured healthy leads away from home, while Brescia and Slavia Prague take a slender advantage into the second leg. The two Swedish sides, Rosengard and Linkoping, were the only seeds not to win, although the latter drew 1-1 with Sparta Prague.

For the sides who do progress, the draw for both the quarter-finals and semi-finals takes place on Friday 24 November, but the competition does not resume until the third week of March 2018. The final takes place at the Valeriy Lobanovskiy Dynamo Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine, on Thursday 24 May.