Champions League final: Chelsea Women close in on trophy quadruple

Credit: PA

By ITV News Multimedia Producer Narbeh Minassian

The all-conquering Chelsea Women’s team has its sights set on an elusive quadruple of four trophies.

The Blues’ 5-0 thrashing of Reading on Sunday clinched their second consecutive league title on the season’s final day, having already lifted the FA Women’s Super League cup in March.

With a Champions League final against Barcelona on Sunday and a fifth-round clash in the FA Women’s Cup next week, the team is determined not to let this historic opportunity slip.

Manager Emma Hayes has guided the west London side through a blistering campaign to retain their league title – but admitted she felt Chelsea has a point to prove this season.

Last year’s success came on a points-per-game basis when the campaign was halted due to Covid in March 2020, when the Blues were a point behind leaders Manchester City with a game in hand.

Chelsea retained their title with a thumping win over Reading. Credit: PA

“Last season, we weren’t the champions in some people’s eyes. But this season the players really wanted to demonstrate we’re the champions,” Hayes said after the win against Reading.

“There were four teams who could have been in with a shout and it’s gone to the last day which just demonstrates how hard it is.”

It's a message she repeated on Friday, telling reporters she believes "it's our time".

“The amount of times people say ‘oh my god your team played so well’ and I was thinking ‘no we didn’t’ – but we won, and that’s a special thing to have," she added.

So, how good has Chelsea been?

Hayes has a point. Not only did her side rack up the most points in the league, but they can also boast the meanest attack and the tightest defence in the country.

Nobody has scored more goals and conceded fewer than the Blues.

To top it off, Chelsea has only lost one league game this season – a shock home defeat to Brighton in February.

They also fell behind in their Champions League semi-final against German giants Bayern Munich, losing the first leg 2-1.

But that loss mattered little in the end as they smashed four goals past Bayern in the return leg, which saw them cruise to the final.

Those two games represent their only losses out of 36 matches across Europe and domestically.

Samantha Kerr has had an outstanding season. Credit: PA

Who have been the key performers?

Their impressive record is thanks in part to Australian striker Samantha Kerr, who has scored 21 goals in 22 appearances in the league, finishing as the top scorer in the division while adding seven more across cup competitions and Europe.

Francesca ‘Fran’ Kirby was the league’s third top scorer with 16 goals, contributing with 11 assists – making her one of only two players in the league to tally at least 10 goals and assists apiece.

England international and defender Millie Bright, meanwhile, clocked up the most minutes and played in 21 of 22 matches in the league.

The one game she missed? Chelsea’s home defeat to struggling Brighton.

Summer signing Pernille Harder is a two-time UEFA Women’s Player of the Year and will feature in her third Champions League final on Sunday having lost two with former club Wolfsburg.

But the collective strength of Chelsea’s starting 11 has been the key factor that has set them apart this season.

Chelsea's Pernille Harder celebrates scoring their side's third goal of the game against Bayern Munich. Credit: PA

How did they get to the Champions League final?

That strength has extended to Europe’s premier competition, which began with Chelsea blowing away highly-rated debutants Benfica 5-0 away and 3-0 at home.

This was followed up with a victory over Atlético Madrid, who were the highest ranked of the unseeded last-16 sides.

Then came Wolfsburg, who had knocked Chelsea out in three of their four previous European campaigns.

But the Blues put the Germans to the sword with a 5-1 aggregate win in the quarter finals.

And despite a first-leg defeat to another German team, Bayern Munich, Chelsea prevailed with a 4-1 win in London to book their spot in the final in Gothenburg, Sweden.

What has Chelsea said about the big game?

Clearly, Chelsea has been in excellent form in Europe but their match-up against Barcelona could well be their toughest test yet.

The Spanish outfit, who finished runners-up in last season's final, got past Manchester City in the quarter-finals and have scored 128 goals and conceded just five in 26 Spanish top-flight matches this term.

“I really respect Barcelona, I do, but I cannot wait to play them,” Hayes said.

Emma Hayes in confident. Credit: PA

“They have been beaten finalists, they have experience of doing that. For once we’re the underdog – in the bookies’ eyes I might add.

“But I think we are approaching our best form. I really believe there’s another level in us, I really do.

“I’m so looking forward to the weekend, to watch us find that level again, to see us compete for the honour of champions of Europe.

“I’m here to win it and the dressing room are very serious about that too. I think my message will be we’ve demonstrated we’re the best team in England…now to become the best team in Europe you have to show another side again.”

When was the last time an English team won the quadruple?

Hayes was involved the last time an English club were in the final, as assistant to boss Vic Akers when Arsenal won it in 2007 as part of a quadruple.

She describes Arsenal’s achievement then as “unreal”, and said of that team and hers now: “The mentality in the dressing room, I think they’re similar. Different coloured kits, similar playing styles, I think on some levels.

"Similar characters. The difference is I think we’ve got more strength in depth than that team did.”

Hayes added “being a winner is what drives me” and that she has “always wanted to blow the sport up so I’m proud to say I think I’ve played my part in doing that”.

She added: “It was my calling. I’ve never been to a card reader ever in my life bar once, and she told me I would do amazing things at Chelsea and I would inspire generations of little girls.

“So I’m just fulfilling what I should be doing. The rest of it is sheer hard work by lots of people, players, staff.”