Chelsea’s Women’s Champions League campaign resumes with what just might be our toughest match yet, as Real Madrid Femenino head to Kingsmeadow for a showdown between the top two in the group.
So far, thanks to a 1-0 away win at PSG and an 8-0 romp at home versus Vllaznia, Chelsea sit top with maximum points. Real Madrid also defeated Vllaznia before holding PSG scoreless in a 0-0 draw in Spain.
A Chelsea win would go a long way toward ensuring entry into the knockout rounds, particularly with another game versus Vllaznia to go (though it will be away in Albania). Real Madrid pose a significant threat in attack, and summer acquisition Caroline Weir knows Chelsea well from her days at Manchester City. Athenea del Castillo is a nightmare to mark 1v1 and Esther González is a savvy forward who is adept at popping up in dangerous spaces.
Chelsea will have to be cautious of an unfamiliar opponent who have, at the very least, developed a bravery in having to face a dominant Barcelona side multiple times during each season. Chelsea should expect a difficult match, but should also be prepared to pounce on early mistakes to make the game easier.
Date / Time: Wednesday, November 23, 20.00 GMT; 3pm EST; 1:30am IST (next day)
Venue: Kingsmeadow, Kingston upon Thames, UK
Forecast: 48°F/5°C; Cloudy
Streaming: DAZN (everywhere)
First time for everything — When Real Madrid take the pitch at Kingsmeadow it will be the first ever meeting of the two clubs. They have only been in existence since 2020, when Real Madrid merged with (then rebranded) Club Deportivo TACÓN.
Real Madrid are not unfamiliar with English competition — In the UWCL, only champions earn automatic entry into the group stage, the rest of the clubs have to battle their way through qualification rounds. Back in August, and for the second year in a row, Real Madrid knocked Manchester City out of the tournament before summer’s end. While that is absolutely hilarious, it’s also a warning shot to Chelsea — they won’t be intimidated, and are talented enough to get results.
No Pernille Harder for.....a while — The international break was going well until Pernille Harder grabbed the back of her hamstring and went down in quite a bit of pain. Days later she had surgery and she won’t be back on the pitch “any time soon.” It’s a cruel blow for Harder and the team; she’d already scored six goals and notched two assists in all competitions while playing more frequently in her favored role in the middle of the park. With Fran Kirby over her string of back-to-back viral infections, it’s possible we’ll see her reprise that central role instead. Or Emma Hayes could roll the dice and give the keys to the attacking midfield to Lauren James.