Emma Hayes: Ajax clash will be ‘intimidating’ but Chelsea ‘won’t be going into it with our eyes shut’

Just days after stunning Arsenal at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea turn their attention to Tuesday’s UEFA Women’s Champions League quarterfinal tie against Ajax. Emma Hayes addressed the media from the Johan Cruyff Arena on Monday evening, after the squad touched down in Amsterdam.

35,000 fans are expected to attend the match on Tuesday, and Hayes told reporters that ‘it’s intimidating playing against 35,000 people in a tight arena,’ and insisted that ‘our players’ experiences of being in this tournament have to count.’

Chelsea faced Ajax in a pre-season friendly two years ago, and Hayes recalled that ‘we drew with them and the game was a very closely contested game. I remember saying I could see Ajax being the next team coming through in Europe, so it is no surprise to me,’ she explained.

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With the Blues having maintained pole position in the race for the Barclays Women’s Super League title last Friday, Hayes was asked whether the UEFA Women’s Champions League bears any extra weight – given that she has not yet won the tournament, and this is her last opportunity to do so before her departure this summer.

‘I really don’t apportion any more emotional response to one competition over another,’ she offered. ‘I would like to be part of a team that wins as much as possible so I’m excited to be in this arena. I saw pitch-side the quality out there; I’m looking forward to the atmosphere. I know our players will be really excited about that, and I’m just happy to be at this stage of competition.’

Ajax host Chelsea on Tuesday, with kickoff scheduled for 17:45 GMT.