There’s been much debate surrounding Chelsea Football Club this season, about mentality and about ambition, and whether those are qualities that one can acquire, or if they are something that you have to be born with.
For Chelsea FC Women’s head coach Emma Hayes, it’s certainly a bit of both, but also with a greater emphasis on nurturing these innate and acquired qualities — many of which were on glorious display last night as the Blues beat reigning European champions Olympique Lyonnais, 1-0, in the away (first) leg of our quarterfinal matchup!
“[The performance] tonight is more in line with who we are. I feel confident we have the players that can be better going forward, but I don’t want to underestimate how hard it is coming here in the quarter-finals. It’s intimidating, and we managed that really well.
“I’ve come to expect that maturity. I spoke to the team before the game about pressure situations. They’re moments that reveal your character, your wisdom, your experience. This is a pressure situation and the team delivered those characteristics under pressure.
“I also believe if you build consistency in your habits every day, every game is a Champions League game. We’ve become accustomed to the competition, and we have played with a wise head tonight.”
Hayes admitted that Chelsea made a “nervous” start to the game, but she was able to calm the players down during a stoppage in play in the first half, and they responded impressively from that point on.
Of course, we’re only at the proverbial half-time of the tie. We have to finish the job next week back at Bridge. We may have a solid advantage, but Lyon haven’t been the dominant force in European football for the past decade by accident either.
“We showed some of the grit that we have been lacking a little. We were really compact and defended well [and] the players executed the defensive game plan. On the ball, we have to be a little bit better, but that’s something we’ll work on before the game at Stamford Bridge.
“[We] grew into the game. We got more and more confident. The result, and keeping a clean sheet, will give the team that confidence. We have massive respect for them. To win 1-0, I’m satisfied, but we know it’s only half-time and there’s things to improve on.”
-Emma Hayes; source: Chelsea FC
Beating Lyon and not even being at our best? Can’t wait to see what’s next!