Tomorrow Chelsea face Atlético Madrid in the round of 16 in the UEFA Women’s Champions League. I was fortunate to be part of my first Chelsea press conference and hear Millie Bright and Emma Hayes’ thoughts prior to the game.
It will be the first time the two sides have met and Millie Bright described it as an equal playing field. “As a team, they have a lot of pace, they’ve got a lot of attacking threats, but yeah it’s kind of equal grounds. I think we pose a lot of attacking threats so it’s definitely an equal playing field going out into the game tomorrow.”
Even though it will be the first time the two teams have faced each other, Bright added that they had done a lot of analysis on the team and they are aware of Atlético Madrid’s strengths and what they pose. “We have a good understanding of what to expect. Even though we haven’t played them we are in a strong position to understand what they bring to the table.”
Facing Atlético is definitely one of the toughest draws Chelsea could have gotten but definitely a game they are excited about. “It’s the tie that we wanted, it’s certainly the game that we wanted to play and it was the opponent we wanted. We have full respect for the work they have done. We don’t underestimate them and I’d rather we had a really tough test than not, so we are all looking forward to it.” Hayes said.
The Champions League is the one trophy that Chelsea haven’t won and after not being involved in it the previous season, Bright said they are back where they belong. “It’s a competition that we do belong in, we’ve got the quality, we’ve got the experience now and we sure don’t want to see ourselves out of the competition having that period not being in it. We are definitely back where we belong and we’re going to do everything to make sure we stay here.”
Atlético Madrid goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl will be up against her former side and Hayes had only positive things to say. “Hedvig is a legend at this football club and I think she is probably the player that came to this football club at the top of her game. She will go down as a legend at this football club for the contributions she’s made to the trophies that we’ve won and I never underestimate Hedvig Lindahl! I know her qualities inside and out and I’m grateful and thankful for what she’s done for this club but my job is to make sure she’s on the wrong end tomorrow evening.”
Even though Atlético aren’t doing as well in the Spanish league as they did when they faced Manchester City in the Champions League previously, Haye’s said they are a team you have to pay a lot of attention too. “They are a great cup team! This is a team that has been hugely successful in Cup. I’ve learnt that these are the teams you have to pay the most attention to and I’ve prepared the team with the detail that is necessary.”
An injury update was also given on Millie Bright and Fran Kirby who both had to withdraw from International Duty. “Millie is a player who will put herself through absolutely anything to play games of football and she took a knock before international camp, having some issues with her hamstring tendon but it’s settled down and she’s fit to play.” Fran took the right amount of time over the international break to recover and again is fit to play.