Emma Hayes: Chelsea ‘will only be as strong as the crowd that comes out’ at Stamford Bridge

Speaking to the media after her Chelsea side handed Barcelona their first home defeat since 2019, Emma Hayes suggested that ‘it’s just half time’ in their UEFA Women’s Champions League semifinal tie.

‘Nobody should get carried away with that and to be honest, I’m disappointed we didn’t get the second goal,’ she continued, adding that ‘I’m a little frustrated to be honest but it’s a difficult place to come. They carried out the game plan I’d ask them to do so from that perspective, I’m happy.’

‘I know how to come away from home and get a result, but we have not performed against Barcelona at home and I think that Barcelona have another level in them. Maybe they don’t feel they were at their best today so we have to anticipate that,’ she suggested.

Erin Cuthbert opened the scoring with 40 minutes on the clock at the Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, but Barcelona felt they should have been granted an opportunity to restore parity soon after as Kadeisha Buchanan handled the ball inside the area.

Embed from Getty Images

A VAR check ensued though, with Chelsea’s blushes spared due to be Salma Paralluelo being offside and interfering with play. Commenting on the incident post-match, Hayes explained that ‘she’s offside and she’s interfering and that’s the rules, and I think for the first time ever we’ve actually had a VAR decision that has gone in our favour.’

Barcelona are the reigning champions of the UEFA Women’s Champions League, and defeated Chelsea across two legs at this stage of the tournament last season. The Blues have made progress across the last twelve months though, and Hayes insisted that ‘these games are separated by fine margins and we have been humiliated by Barcelona at times.’

‘The way they play football is beautiful. They had lots of the ball and they can hurt you. I thought the last 10 minutes they really started to get on top but you have to expect that here,’ she added, referring in part to Alexia Putellas’ wayward strike from close range in the dying seconds of stoppage time.

Previewing the second leg at Stamford Bridge next Saturday, Hayes urged fans to turn out in their droves for a 17:30 BST kickoff. ‘We will only be as strong as the crowd that comes out,’ she declared.

‘It’s important for us we pack Stamford Bridge out to give ourselves half a chance against the best team in the world. We are at half-time and I believe there is another level in Barcelona. From our perspective, we must show humility towards that, continue to work on the tactical details and if we switch off for one second, they will defeat us.’