Chelsea eye Barcelona revenge | The Express Tribune


Chelsea are hoping to avenge their heavy defeat in the 2021 Women’s Champions League final when they meet Barcelona again in the semi-finals of this season’s competition with the first leg at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Emma Hayes’s side, who lost 4-0 to Barcelona in Gothenburg two years ago, made it through to the semi-finals after a dramatic win on penalties against reigning champions Lyon in the quarter-finals last month.

They are now hoping to become the first English team to win a domestic double as well as the Champions League, as they prepared for this tie by beating Aston Villa 1-0 last weekend to reach the FA Cup final.

Australia’s Sam Kerr scored the only goal of that game, her 24th of the season, to set up a final next month against Manchester United, who are one of their rivals in the ongoing Women’s Super League title race.

However, Chelsea’s focus now has to be on Barcelona, with the second leg at the Camp Nou set for next Thursday.

Barcelona are bidding to reach a third consecutive final, and a fourth in five seasons, after losing 3-1 to Lyon in Turin a year ago.

Too strong for Roma in the quarter-finals, Barcelona are on the brink of winning another Spanish title after beating Atletico Madrid 4-0 last weekend to claim a 60th straight victory in La Liga.

While their trip to London means they are not in domestic action, they could be crowned champions this weekend if nearest rivals Real Madrid slip up.

The Catalans have two England stars in their ranks in Keira Walsh and Lucy Bronze, while Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas is getting closer to a comeback.

The 29-year-old has been back in training and some reports in Spain have suggested that she could even feature in the second leg of this tie.

Chelsea, meanwhile, have been monitoring the fitness of centre-back pairing Millie Bright and Kadeisha Buchanan, both of whom were missing due to injury against Aston Villa.

Bright has not played since suffering a knee injury in the first leg of the quarter-final against Lyon, while Fran Kirby and Pernille Harder have also been on the sidelines.

No club from England has been crowned champions of Europe since Arsenal in 2007 but an all-English final in Eindhoven on June 3 is a possibility with the Gunners taking on Wolfsburg in the other last-four tie.

The Germans are a fearsome proposition, eyeing their sixth final in the competition and fresh from hammering Bayern Munich 5-0 last weekend to reach the domestic Cup final.

Wolfsburg, who defeated Paris Saint-Germain in the last eight, got the better of Arsenal in the quarter-finals last season before losing to Barcelona in the semis.

Their star German international forward Alexandra Popp has been on the sidelines with a calf injury and it remains to be seen if she will feature in Sunday’s first leg.

Arsenal, meanwhile, were not happy at having to navigate a WSL trip to leaders Manchester United this Wednesday before being able to focus on the trip to Germany.

That was despite fellow WSL title contenders Chelsea being afforded a clear midweek to prepare for their match.

“I find it very odd that we are the only team of the two English teams that are forced to play before our semi-final,” said Arsenal head coach Jonas Eidevall.

“I can’t see the reasons for it. It’s something we have to look into after, for the appropriate time, because I can’t see the logic.

“We can only focus on what we do have and now this is the schedule we have, that we need to go to Manchester and play well there, and we need to go to Wolfsburg.”

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