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In Focus: Hayes and Chelsea seek Champions League redemption
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Dan Fitch

Emma Hayes and Chelsea can take a huge step towards fulfilling a longstanding ambition tonight.

The most successful manager in the women's game in England has yet to taste European glory, despite winning 11 major domestic trophies since taking over in 2012.

As Chelsea prepare to take on Lyon in the second leg of their Women's Champions League quarter-final tie, we take a look at their quest to be crowned the best in Europe. 

Final disaster

Hayes has won five Women's Super League titles, four FA Cups and two League Cups during her time at Chelsea. 

On a personal level, the 46-year-old tactician is a five-time WSL Manager of the Season, scooped the Best FIFA Women's Coach award in 2021 and was made an OBE last year. 

The one thing missing from her stellar CV is a Champions League title, though she has gone close in the past. 

In 2020-21, Hayes became the first female manager to guide a team to the final of the competition for 12 years. 

Though that was an achievement in itself, the game was a disaster. Barcelona scored four times by the 36th minute to cruise to a 4-0 triumph.

Revenge mission

Chelsea suffered a heartbreaking defeat to Barcelona in the 2021 final
Chelsea suffered a heartbreaking defeat to Barcelona in the 2021 final

Chelsea suffered more frustration last season as they were eliminated in the group stage by virtue of head-to-head goal difference. Now they have a chance at redemption. 

Hayes' side sailed through their pool unbeaten and took the advantage over holders Lyon when they won the away leg 1-0. 

Should they get the result they need at Stamford Bridge this evening, the Blues will progress to the semi-finals, where Barcelona will be waiting.

Lyon beat Barca in last season's final to secure their eighth Champions League title. The French club have only been knocked out once at this stage in the 13 times they have reached the last eight. 

A brilliant curled goal from Guro Reiten in the first leg has given Chelsea a golden opportunity to eliminate Europe's most decorated team and set up a revenge mission against Barcelona.

Simply the best

Emma Hayes has spoken about what it takes to be the best
Emma Hayes has spoken about what it takes to be the best

Ahead of tonight's tie, Hayes spoke about her desire to win the Champions League and what it means to be the best. 

The Londoner said: "I want to be in the biggest game so there's no doubt that's a motivation for me, but my motivation isn't led by one single thing. 

"To be the very best at something, you can't just talk about it, you have to do it every day, on the training pitch, in every game. 

"And my challenge to the team tomorrow is to demonstrate everything that you have worked so hard on to put this club in this position." 

Chelsea's bid to win the Champions League is part of a potential treble. The team are through to the semi-finals of the FA Cup and a point behind in the WSL title race with a game in hand. 

In the public's eyes, Hayes will surely be seen as the greatest female manager should she finally experience that elusive taste of European glory. 

Yet it may still not be enough for her to stop wanting more and setting even higher standards. That hunger is what truly separates the best from the rest.


ChelseaChelsea FC WomenWomen’s Champions LeagueWomen’s Super League
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