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VfL Wolfsburg vs. Chelsea, Women’s Champions League: Preview, team news, how to watch

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* Inhale * Exhale * Inhale * Exhale *

Chelsea FC v VfL Wolfsburg - UEFA Women’s Champions League Quarter Final: Leg One Photo by Peter Zador/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Chelsea may have won last week’s first leg against Wolfsburg 2-1, but that did not at all reflect the way the match went. Goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger made multiple key saves and the post kept out another two as Chelsea were peppered with 22(!) shots. The Blues scored via the telepathic #Kerrby connection to grab a goal, then a terrible error at the back gave Pernille Harder her first goal versus her former club, before Wolfsburg scored one from the penalty spot.

Though this match will be played in the same stadium, this time Chelsea will be the away team, meaning Wolfsburg have one away goal and, should they score without reply, the advantage that tips the tie in their favor.

Another layer of concern will be the (unjust) absence of Niamh Charles, Emma Hayes’ preferred right back ever since usual starter Maren Mjelde was injured during the Continental Cup Final.

Chelsea showed very few signs of actually being able to slow down Wolfsburg and rode a wave of Champions League good fortune to the 2-1 win. The Blues will have to be much better, especially with Wolfsburg having the confidence that they know how to overwhelm and unlock Chelsea, and with the added benefit of facing a third-choice right back. Emma Hayes reverted to the 433 used earlier in the season (to mediocre effect), and both Sophie Ingle and Ji So-yun struggled to keep up with Wolfsburg’s athleticism in the middle of the park, so expect a different formation and a shuffle of personnel.

Date / Time: Wednesday, March 31, 2021, 13.00 BST; 8:00am EDT; 5:30pm IST
Venue: Ferenc Szusza Stadium, Budapest, Hungary
Forecast: Cloudy; 11°C, 51°F

On TV: BT Sport 2 (UK); none (USA); elsewhere
Streaming: BT Sport Live (UK); 5th Stand App & Chelsea official YouTube channel, and Ata Football. (elsewhere)

Wolfsburg team news: Wolfsburg took a similar approach as Chelsea to their league match sandwiched between these two legs and rotated heavily and made a lot of substitutions. Ewa Pajor wasn’t in the team at all, Svenja Huth was on the bench but didn’t play. They did leak a goal, but still managed to defeat SC Sand 3-1 to remain five points behind Bayern Munich in the Frauen Bundesliga.

Incidentally, Bayern will await the winners of this tie in the semifinals.

Chelsea team news: As mentioned above, Niamh Charles received a yellow card for a perfect sliding tackle in the first leg, which has triggered a suspension for this match. The good bit of news is that Bethany England is recovered enough from her concussion to have taken part in training and make the flight to Budapest.

Since this is a Chelsea blog, and we can be honest here, the Blues were ran off the pitch in the first leg. I still don’t know how we escaped with a 2-1 win but I do not question forces larger than myself. It looked at times as if Chelsea had no midfield whatsoever, and our best defender on the day was Charles, who was making just her third Chelsea appearance at right back.

It seemed to me that the Blues were playing against the ghost of Wolfsburg’s past results versus Chelsea, rather than the team actually on the pitch. While Wolfsburg are talented, and still one of the top teams in Europe, Chelsea have their best player, plus God-Mode Fran Kirby, Sam Kerr and one of Bayern Munich’s best players, Melanie Leupolz. We are the better team. We should play like it.

Previously: A confusing 2-1 result in favor of Chelsea. You should watch our first goal though, it’s a brilliant illustration of how any pass can trigger a sequence that creates a chance. Magda Eriksson to Sophie Ingle to Ji So-yun to Fran Kirby to Sam Kerr: quick, incisive, devastating. More please!