Hayes and Eriksson emphasise the importance of detail and taking chances

Ahead of tonight’s UEFA Champions League Semi-Final second leg at Camp Nou, Impetus’ Emmanuel Faith joined Chelsea’s pre-game media conference with head coach Emma Hayes, and club captain, Magdalena Eriksson (27/4/23).

Above: Sam Kerr is crowded out by Barcelona players in Saturday’s first leg at Stamford Bridge, she will be hoping to put up a more impactful performance tonight. Photo: UWCL Twitter.

Chelsea head coach Emma Hayes is confident in her team’s ability to overturn a one-goal deficit at Camp Nou tonight to take their place in Eindhoven on 3rd June for the UEFA Women’s Champions League Final.

Chelsea has had a tough ride to the semi-finals, having played the two best teams in France – Olympique Lyonnais and Paris St. Germain, recording three victories during the process and have been to Spain earlier in the season where they shared the points with Real Madrid during the group stage. But playing Barcelona at their fortress Camp Nou is a different test.

Speaking to the media, Hayes was optimistic while being realistic about the daunting challenge ahead of them. She paid respect to Barcelona and acknowledged their ability to tear teams apart in Camp Nou, having done that to clubs like Benfica, Bayern Munich, and Roma but she also expressed confidence about the Blues’ abilities to face any opponent.

“The focus has been on Barcelona and how amazing they are at home, while that is the reality, my girls have given their best so far and will play for the badge tomorrow. We are a team of experienced players, leaders, and footballers that are ready to deliver at ahigh level”

The Blues captain, Magda Erikkson reiterated the message, stating confidently: “The game is not over until it is over, and we all saw what happened against Lyon, we have a competitive squad with a winning mentality, and it is unfortunate we couldn’t get at least a draw at Stamford Bridge…we will give our best on the pitch and hopefully, we have a bit of luck on our side.”

Hayes further praised the players’ resilience to keep the scoreline to just a single-goal deficit in the first leg, ensuring that they still had all to play for in the second leg. She singled out the outstanding performance of Maren Mjelde who has had to play consecutive matches because of the absence of the starting centre backs Millie Bright and Kadeisha Buchanan, while celebrating the whole team for their doggedness and abilities to suffer without the ball.

Above: Guro Reiten worked hard to be a thorn in Barcelona’s side during Saturday’s first leg at Stamford Bridge. Photo: UWCL Twitter.

“It’s been a very long season plagued with injuries and we are super-delighted that players step up to deliver their best when they are called upon”

She also confirmed that we won’t be seeing Bright or Buchanan anytime soon, however, on a more positive note, the Blues boss mentioned the impact of Pernille Harder’s return on Saturday.

Hayes also highlighted that, whilst all the talk has been on Barcelona and their superb home form, her team has had one of the most difficult journeys possible to a Champions League semi-final, having played clubs like Real Madrid, Paris St. Germain and the holders Olympique Lyonnais.

Chelsea recorded clean sheets against PSG home and away, and away to Lyon, while Eriksson also talked about the team’s ability to take their chances when they come.

For Hayes, tonight’s game can boil down to focusing on the basic football details while maximising the opportunities when they come.

Given their impressive home record, club size, and outstanding fans, Barcelona are favourites to win this, but if any team has the experience to gain the win it is Chelsea.

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