We look ahead to this afternoon’s Women’s Champions League semi-final decider in Germany…
HOW TO FOLLOW
The game kicks off at 4.30pm UK time and will be shown live on Chelsea TV. For those of you unable to watch, minute-by-minute updates will come via Twitter @ChelseaLFC.
THE FIRST LEG
Chelsea Ladies’ first ever Champions League semi-final a week ago could not have started any better, Ji So-Yun on target with the game barely underway, but the German champions were ahead by half-time and extended their lead midway through the second half to set a stiff challenge for the second leg.
In front of another new Chelsea Ladies best crowd at Kingsmeadow, the Blues were on top for spells of the game and were clearly more closely matched with a side with an outstanding pedigree in this competition than in the previous two seasons, but we conceded a headed equaliser midway through the first half before the misfortune of an own-goal just before half-time.
It was a sharp finish from Lara Dickenmann which gave Wolfsburg their third away goal during the second period and their defence held firm after that to maintain their healthy advantage. For the Blues it was only our second defeat at Kingsmeadow, adding to the loss we suffered at the hands of Manchester City in the Continental Tyres Cup semi-final back in January.
VIEW FROM THE SKIPPER
Captain Katie Chapman paid tribute to Wolfsburg’s quality after the first leg, although she was left frustrated by the schedule which had us playing a big game in midweek ahead of that match.
‘We’re disappointed with our performance. We pushed and we worked hard, but the quality wasn’t there for us. It might have been down to fatigue, but we went out and gave it our all.
‘There were a few of us off our game and I think that’s due to playing three games in a week. It’s been a hard schedule for us and I think the FA have got to look at that – if they want teams to progress in the Champions League they’ve got to give us a helping hand. Two days recovery before playing a top team like that is a big ask.
‘Even so, they’re a great side and we knew it was going to be tough. I think they’re a better team than Lyon. I think they’ve got better, just as we have. If we played them without a game in between it might have been different.’
The opening leg of this tie was our most recent match, with the past midweek one of the few of late to have been clear of fixtures. We had gone into the game in good form both domestically and in Europe. Having beaten Montpellier to secure our spot in the semi-finals, we saw off Man City 2-0 in the Women’s FA Cup semi-final courtesy of a brace from Fran Kirby, who has since been crowned PFA and FWA Player of the Year. That result was followed by a hard-fought 1-0 win at Everton, when Magda Eriksson scored the only goal of the game. We maintain both a three-point lead at the top of the WSL1 standings and an unbeaten record after 14 matches of the league season. Our next WSL1 fixture is on Wednesday 9 May at home to Birmingham City, which follows the FA Cup final against Arsenal at Wembley Stadium four days earlier.
Wolfsburg extended their lead at the top of the Frauen Bundesliga to five points with a 4-0 win at USV Jena on Wednesday night. They have dropped points in only two matches this season and they have also reached the final of the German Cup, where they will face Bayern Munich on the same day as our men’s team take on Manchester United in the FA Cup final.
PREVIOUS EURO AWAY DAYS
Although our first trip in this season’s Women’s Champions League ended in defeat on the night, Fran Kirby’s breakaway effort against Bayern Munich in Germany was enough to secure our passage into the last 32 on away goals.
It was another second leg on the road for the Blues in that stage of the competition, too, although this time it followed a 3-0 win over Rosengard at Kingsmeadow. Ji‘s deflected strike was the only goal of the game in Sweden.
The South Korean was on target again against Montpellier, racing clear shortly after half-time to put us ahead in the south of France. That was followed by a goal from substitute Erin Cuthbert, and we finished the job back at home with a 3-1 win in KT1.
Wolfsburg have two wins and a draw from their three home legs in this season’s competition. They began with a 12-2 victory over Atletico Madrid, although Fiorentina subsequently held them to a 3-3 draw in Germany. Most recently, Slavia Prague were hammered 5-0.
VIEW FROM THE DRESSING ROOM
Goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl has seen some big comebacks in the men’s Champions League this term, which gives her hope we can turn things around.
‘It’s 3-1 after the first and we can also win 3-1 if we have a better day than we had in this game. It was not a great day for us in the first leg and who knows what will happen in the away game?
‘There is room for improvement in our own performance, so if we can figure those things out we can make it harder for them in Wolfsburg. We’ll be stronger, definitely – all to win from here, nothing to lose.
‘We’ll watch Roma against Barcelona to prepare! But, more importantly, we’ll keep the belief, and we’ll make sure we tidy up some of the details we got wrong this time. It’s not over. And a full week to prepare helps. It will be a tougher one for Wolfsburg, we’re going to be a better side.’
We have travelled to Wolfsburg twice before. The first trip, in 2015, followed a narrow defeat in the home leg at Staines, but we were beaten by a stunning strike from Vanessa Bernauer and Alexandra Popp’s deflected effort. The Blues were wasteful, though, and could point to a number of missed chances. We also hit the bar through Eni Aluko.
It was also a second-leg journey to Germany last year, although this time it followed a 3-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge. After disappointing in that game, we were superb in Wolfsburg, going toe to toe with one of Europe’s top clubs. We led through Aluko’s goal shortly before the interval and it could have been a thrilling climax had Karen Carney’s long-ranger found net instead of woodwork. Instead, Wolfsburg netted an equaliser to progress comfortably.
OTHER SEMI-FINAL TIE
Manchester City travel to Lyon for the second leg of their last-four tie, taking a 0-0 draw to the home of the holders. Kick-off is at 1.45pm UK time to decide which side will be the first to confirm their place in the final, which takes place in Kiev, Ukraine on Thursday 24 May.