Chelsea take a commanding 3-0 first leg lead into tonight’s second leg against Rosengård in this Champions League Round of 16 matchup, with the Blues looking to advance for to the quarterfinals for the first time in history.
The job is only halfway done.
Date/Time: Wednesday, November 15, 2017, 17:30 GMT (12:30pm EST)
Venue: Malmö IP, Malmö, Sweden
Forecast: Partly cloudy, brisk 8°C (54°F), Wind speed: 4 m/s E, Humidity: 8%
On TV/Streaming: The match will be streamed live and for free on Chelsea TV and the official Chelsea YouTube Channel.
The squad trained at the Malmo IP stadium last night where they'll be taking on Rosengard later today (5.30pm UK)... pic.twitter.com/q1O5UHHZaB— Chelsea Ladies FC (@ChelseaLFC) November 15, 2017
Expected lineup and Prediction: The best way to get over a disappointing result like the 2-2 draw at Reading over the weekend is to get back on the pitch and put in a good performance. It’s doubtful that Rosengård will be too accommodating, especially coming off their own poor performance over the weekend when they lost at home to Hammarby, and after Chelsea’s 3-0 victory in the first leg, the impetus will be on the hosts to push forward and attack. Emma Hayes’s sides aren’t particularly known for bus-parking tactics, but 2017 has been a year in which the Ladies have shown that counter-attacking football can be a strength for them.
Given that Chelsea also looked a bit leggy in midfield and quite shaky at the back against Reading, my bet is on Hayes switching to a more centrally compact 3-5-2, with the first-team regulars who got the rest over the weekend rotating back in. This means starts for Ramona Bachmann and Fran Kirby, while Karen Carney, Drew Spence, and Eni Aluko may have to sit by while Ji So-Yun pulls the strings in midfield. I’m assuming it will be Ji because her exclusion in Sunday’s match is otherwise totally inexplicable to me. That being said, it’s also possible Spence was pulled from Sunday’s match with an eye on this fixture rather than in response to a relatively underwhelming individual performance from the physically imposing player, in which case, I would have to throw out the prediction below.
The other area of intrigue involves Katie Chapman and Millie Bright, both stalwart regulars under Hayes who looked out of sorts against Reading ... but was that just a one-off or are they showing signs of fatigue? Chapman at 35 isn’t exactly all that young anymore, but she is the captain. There are options however, and if it were me, I’d start Carney, Ji, and Maren Mjelde in an attacking midfield three, while giving Chapman a break and swapping Thorisdottir for Bright, who needs to settle down and get back to her best. However, as it is not up to me, I’ll speculate that Hayes retains her most trusted favorites.
With all the expectations around this team moving forward in this competition, and all of the disappointment in dropping their first points of the season in devastating fashion at the week’s end, this is an important, possibly season-defining moment for the Blues. I know that as former Rosengård players, Bachmann and Hedvig Lindahl will be raring to go. Let’s hope the whole squad is right there with them, because progressing further than ever before in the UCL is on the line.
Come on, Chelsea!