Hayes warns Chelsea can ‘lose it’ in first leg of quarter-final against Lyon

The Chelsea manager, Emma Hayes, has told her players they cannot win their Women’s Champions League quarter-final in the first leg against Lyon at the Groupama Stadium on Wednesday, but they can “absolutely lose it”.

Hayes’s team face the eight-time winners and defending champions who have not been in perfect form this season, having endured a heavy 5-1 defeat at home against Arsenal during the group stages. But key players who were injured earlier in the campaign, such as the Australia defender Ellie Carpenter, are back in Lyon’s squad and it has led to a flawless run of games. Lyon have not dropped any points in any competition since they drew 0-0 with Juventus in the Champions League group stage in December.

Chelsea’s run of form is not too dissimilar to that of their opponents, losing only two games across all competitions this campaign.

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“I say to the team often, you can’t win the tie here but you can absolutely lose it,” Hayes said. “I think both teams will spend part of the game, even though we played each other in pre-season [Lyon defeated Chelsea 4-3 on penalties in the Women’s International Champions Cup], working each other out. That is what happens, especially over two legs. We are going to build on the good work we did in the group campaign.”

Chelsea last faced Lyon in the Champions League across their two-leg semi-final in the 2018-19 season where the Blues lost 3-2 on aggregate. Hayes insists she and her team are not out for revenge this time out.

“I think we knew when the draw was made it did not matter who we got. This stage is the top teams in Europe so we are just prepared, we are ready no matter the opponent. I don’t spend my time thinking about revenge in life. I look at life as lessons and learnings. I think this team has learnt a lot over time and we are ready for whatever game that is presented to us.”

The Lyon manager, Sonia Bompastor, meanwhile is aware of how difficult the game will be but says her team are up for the challenge.

“The English teams are performing,” Bompastor said. “We will have a lot of respect for this Chelsea team. They are one of the favourite teams in this competition but we also have a lot of experience on our side.”

Lyon’s Lindsey Horan, who can play as a forward or a midfielder, said of the threat posed by the Chelsea striker Sam Kerr: “She’s one of the best, she scores all the time. I respect her a lot but like Sonia said, our central defence is in great shape and I have confidence.”