For five consecutive seasons, only one team has had their name etched on the Champions League trophy: Lyon. In those five finals, Wolfsburg, Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona have tried and failed to stop Lyon emerging victorious.
This season, Chelsea can be confident they will challenge Lyon for Champions League glory.
When the two sides faced off at the semi-final stage in 2019, Chelsea gave Lyon quite a tough time over the two legs. They lost 3-2 on aggregate with Maren Mjelde’s own goal in the second leg proving costly.
As the last 16 stage begins on Wednesday, Chelsea take on Atletico Madrid. Lyon will be up against Brondby. If the two sides face each other in the latter stages once more, Chelsea have no reason to fear Lyon. Here’s why Chelsea could go all the way this season.
Super Fran Kirby
Being out of the game for a sustained period of time after she was diagnosed with the debilitating illness pericarditis, Fran Kirby has had an incredibly tough time.
However, she has come back better than ever and now looks in unstoppable form. Kirby is Chelsea’s joint top scorer, alongside Sam Kerr, in the Women’s Super League with 11 goals.
Four of those were scored in a 5-0 thrashing over former club Reading. The goal that most showed what Kirby is about is the final goal in Chelsea’s 3-0 win over London rivals Arsenal.Embed from Getty Images
The England international felt a cramp in her right calf. Despite this, she got into a one-on-one position with goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger. She went on to score in the 90th minute to put the game beyond any doubt. Six assists also show that Kirby is capable of linking with team-mates and creating chances for others.
A player of Fran Kirby’s quality is invaluable in the Champions League. Given the talent around her, she is more than capable of showing what she can do on the biggest stage of them all.
Enviable squad depth
Emma Hayes is continually asked how she keeps all of her players happy. The answer is that she doesn’t. Chelsea are one of the best clubs in the WSL, which enables them to attract some of the best players. They can’t all play at the same time.
This often results in Chelsea having an incredible bench filled with world-class internationals. Against Arsenal last month, Hayes brought Erin Cuthbert, Bethany England and Guro Reiten off the bench. All three substitutions were made from a position of strength with Chelsea 2-0 up.Embed from Getty Images
When players come off the bench for the Blues, they slot into the team with ease and help them maintain their high standards. Having so many game changers is a useful weapon to possess in the Champions League.
On a domestic level, Chelsea have won all there is to win. It is clear that Hayes is determined to add the Champions League to the list of trophies that she has won so far, since 2012 when she took charge.
Her domestic achievements are just part of the reason why Hayes is widely regarded as one of the best managers in the country. Becoming only the second English club to win the Champions League, after Arsenal in 2007, would be a phenomenal achievement.Embed from Getty Images
As the Chelsea manager said in her BBC Sport column: “You have to behave every day like it’s your Champions League final. If you do that, you have a good chance of going far in any competition.”