Chelsea boss Emma Hayes curious to measure progress against Wolfsburg in

Emma Hayes is relishing the prospect of Chelsea’s Champions League quarter-final against Wolfsburg and seeing what progress the Blues have made since the sides’ last meeting.

That was in the 2017-18 semi-finals, when Wolfsburg won 5-1 on aggregate as they eliminated Chelsea for a third successive season.

The first leg will take place on Wednesday, with both games being played at Szusza Ferenc Stadion in Budapest.

And Chelsea boss Hayes, whose side are ‘home’ first, said: “I’ve got a lot of experience in my team, and I’m looking forward to watching them cope with playing against a team that has won, every time, in the biggest games against us.

“I’m extremely curious to see how far we’ve progressed in the last three years.

“The way we’re playing, I’m sure we’ve got qualities that will hurt Wolfsburg.”

A notable difference from the last encounter is that Wolfsburg – runners-up last season, when they appeared in the final for a fifth time – had Denmark star Pernille Harder, who switched to Chelsea last September.

Asked how key Harder could be to success in the tie, Hayes said: “We all know Pernille is a world-class player – that’s also playing in a world-class team.

“I think the realities are the result is not dependent on any one player, it’s dependent on the whole. Pernille is part of that whole.

“If we are to progress beyond this stage, it’s what we do as a collective effort that’s going to make the difference. But of course, she’s a top player.”

Hayes – who feels there are six teams who could win the Champions League this term – also gave her thoughts on the new Women’s Super League broadcast deal, which will see matches shown on Sky Sports and the BBC over the next three seasons.

It is the first time the rights to the WSL have been sold separately from the men’s game, with the league’s clubs and Women’s Championship sides receiving a proportion of the revenue – the split being 75 per cent (WSL) to 25 per cent.

The FA’s director of the women’s professional game, Kelly Simmons, has said she believes it is “the biggest deal commercially for women’s football in terms of a domestic deal.”

Hayes said: “I think it’s a day everybody has worked really hard towards. The fact it’s a record deal worldwide just shows how much we are putting our money where our mouth is and valuing a women’s game that has demonstrated time and time again that it’s a product people want to watch.

“This is, I think, the first really big watershed moment where there’s a trickle down effect and the clubs are going to prosper from that.”

Hayes, who also spoke of the impact in terms of “normalising” women’s football on television, added: “I think kudos to all of the big clubs that could invest and put investment into the infrastructure and development – and understandably not everybody could have done that.

“I’ve always advocated for the bigger clubs driving the standard, they have to raise the bar because that in turn brings everybody else up.

“We’re seeing with the Barclays (sponsorship) deal, now the Sky and BBC deal, there’s money coming into the game, and it’s vindication for work over a number of years and I think a confirmation again today why we are the best league in the world.”

WSL on Sky: Big names, the ‘big three’ and inspiring girls

The Women’s Super League will have a new home from next season on Sky Sports. From world-class stars like Lucy Bronze and Vivianne Miedema to the potential end of the ‘big three’ – Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City – there are plenty of reasons to be excited.

Here, we look at why you should watch the WSL on Sky Sports this September…

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