Chelsea Women boss Emma Hayes says Covid fears a ‘major reason’ behind Champions League exit

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Emma Hayes says “stress, worry and anxiety” about Covid in the Chelsea Women squad played a “major part” in their Champions League exit.

Chelsea crashed out of Europe after with a 4-0 capitulation against Wolfsburg in their final group game on Thursday.

Goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger and midfielder Drew Spence were unavailable in Germany after testing positive for Covid, and Hayes said other players were suffering from diarrhoea, exhaustion and were being sick in the dressing room.

Chelsea reached the Champions League Final last season and had been expected to go far in the competition again this season. They started the night top of Group A but finished third behind Wolfsburg and Juventus after slumping to their heaviest defeat of the season.

Hayes said she did not “recognise her team” and blamed concerns about another Christmas affected by an outbreak for the manner of the defeat.

“A few days ago we had a few players struck down by Covid,” said Hayes. “We know inevitably when we land on Friday there will be positive cases. Our heads were all over the place. We are human beings.

“The stress, the worry, the anxiety of having to perform in a game thinking, ‘I just want to go home’. I am not making excuses for the players, but the last three days have been all over the place with the worry that we have to play this game.

“Covid is real and when you are in a team environment and you know it spreads like wildfire in the team, I am gutted for the players because we know that was nowhere near a team that represents my team.

“I have got players being sick in there. They have got diarrhoea, they are exhausted and maybe some of that mental anxiety plays a part in it.

"I think that played a major part in our performance.”

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