Defending League Cup (i.e. Conti Cup) champions Chelsea travel north to Watford’s Vicarage Road to take on Bristol City WFC for the third — and most important — time this season, with a trophy on the line.
The Blues came away with comfortable victories in both of the previous two (league) meetings, by a combined 14-0 scoreline, but Bristol City haven’t reached this final purely by chance, and have been in their best form as of late.
Chelsea will of course be considered heavy favorites, but can the Robins flip the script or will Emma Hayes’ Blues lift the Continental Cup for the second year running?
Date / Time: Sunday, March 14, 2021, 14.30 GMT; 10:30am EDT; 8:00pm IST
Venue: Vicarage Road, Watford, England
Referee: Abigail Byrne
Forecast: Cool; light rain possible
Chelsea FCW team news: Chelsea have been imperious on our way to the final, beating London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham in group play before taking down perennial title-rivals Manchester City in the quarterfinals. West Ham were swept away in the semifinals and now only Bristol City stand in the way of more silverware.
The Blues do have several injury concerns ahead of this game. Bethany England suffered a concussion in Wednesday’s match against Atlético Madrid, and will be unavailable. Captain Magdalena Eriksson has missed the previous two matches, though she did make the bench on Wednesday. In her absence, both Sophie Ingle and Maren Mjelde have filled in as temporary centre back partners to Millie Bright. While both are fully capable of deputizing again, Eriksson’s return to the lineup would be a huge boost. Erin Cuthbert has also been sidelined recently and is unlikely to feature.
Even with England unavailable, Sam Kerr, Pernille Harder, and Fran Kirby provide more than enough firepower to put the fear in any defense. Meanwhile, Ann-Katrin Berger was the hero at the other end as Chelsea advanced to face Wolfsburg in the Women’s Champions League quarterfinals, and will need to be alert against Bristol City’s counter-attack.
Bristol City WFC team news: Temporary head coach Matt Beard has done an impressive job with the Robins, and the confidence he has generated in his young squad over the last couple of months has been evident. Not only have they reached a cup final, but last week’s dramatic victory over Reading saw them climb off the bottom of the table for the first time this season.
A trophy against a team with the quality of Chelsea would a remarkable achievement. To get this far, Bristol went undefeated in group play with victories over London Bees, Crystal Palace, and Lewes, before beating Aston Villa and Leicester City in the quarters and semis, respectively.
Don’t let Bristol City’s 14 goals conceded against Chelsea this season deceive you about the quality of goalkeeper Sophie Baggaley. She has been called on an incredible number of times this season, and has made an incredible amount of incredible saves, including against the Blues. In order to be victorious against the Goliaths of Chelsea, she’ll need to be at her very best. At the other end of the pitch, the most likely threat is England international Ebony Salmon. At just 20 years old, Salmon has been a revelation and her recent performances have earned her a first international call-up. She’s scored six league goals for Bristol City, while no other player has more than one.
Previously: After being throttled 9-0 in the first meeting, Bristol City held Chelsea to “only” a 5-0 victory last month.