Chelsea manager Emma Hayes believes that six of the remaining eight teams in this season’s UEFA Women’s Champions League could win the tournament.
French giants Lyon have long had a hold on European football’s greatest prize, however, this season’s competition looks to be the most competitive yet.
This week sees Chelsea take on last season’s runners-up VfL Wolfsburg in the first leg of their quarter-final tie, a game which will be played on neutral territory in Hungary due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Blues boss Hayes spoke to the media on Monday ahead of the game and she admitted that any one of six teams could lift the trophy this year.
“It has taken time for there to be a greater parity or opposition in the later stages of the Champions League other than a German team or a French team, I think this is the first real year,” said Hayes. “I think any one of six teams could win this easily, I don’t think that there is one favourite over another.
“At this stage, you need experience, you need discipline, you need all of your nous to realise that when you play outside of a domestic game, there are so many other factors involved. There’s different refereeing, different types of presses, different types of build-ups in terms of what the opponent does.
“You have to manage all of those stresses and that stimulus and that takes time to develop. I have got a lot of experience in my team and I am looking forward to seeing how they cope with playing against a team that has won every time in the biggest games against us and I am extremely curious to see how we have progressed in the last three years.”
All eyes will be on Chelsea forward Pernille Harder on Wednesday afternoon, a player who captained VfL Wolfsburg in last season’s final and was named the 2019/2020 UEFA Women’s Champions League Forward of the Season. Hayes deflected the attention from the Danish international by adding that success will not be achieved by one player.
She added “We all know that Pernille is a world class player who is also playing in a world class team.
“We have attacking talents who go beyond just Pernille. We have players in a really good space who are in top form.
“The reality is that the result is not dependent upon any one player, it is dependent on the whole and Pernille is part of that whole.
“If we are to progress beyond this stage then it is what we do as a collective effort that will be the difference but of course, Pernille is a top player.”
Chelsea’s UEFA Women’s Champions League quarter-final first leg tie against VfL Wolfsburg is scheduled to kick-off at 4pm on Wednesday afternoon and will be screened live on BT Sport 2.