To be Frank, money mat­ters as Bell plots stun­ning re­peat OTHER GREAT FOOTBALL TI­TLES

The Football League Paper - - WOMEN'S FOOTBALL WEEKLY - By Kieran Thievam

FFC Frank­furt head coach Colin Bell has said re­tain­ing their Cham­pi­ons League ti­tle this year will be a big task due to the in­vest­ment in tal­ent from some of Europe’s big­gest clubs.

Bell, who be­came the first English coach in the men’s or women’s game to win the main Euro­pean ti­tle fol­low­ing vic­tory over Paris St Ger­main in Ber­lin last sea­son, will be look­ing to try and repli­cate their form of the last cam­paign, but with­out some of their star play­ers.

The cur­rent hold­ers suf­fered a crush­ing blow be­fore the sea­son had even kicked off when UEFA Best Player in Europe Award win­ner, and top scorer at the Canada World Cup, Celia Sa­sic, an­nounced her re­tire­ment at just 27 years of age.

Span­ish mae­stro Veron­ica Bo­quete joined ri­vals Bay­ern Mu­nich, while Wales in­ter­na­tional Jess Fishlock, a player Bell de­scribed as “one of the most com­plete play­ers I've worked with,” de­cided not to re­turn on loan.

In ad­di­tion, Bell re­vealed that ma­jes­tic play­maker Dzsenifer Marozsan, one of the most gifted num­ber 10s you will find in the women’s game, is un­likely to fea­ture un­til af­ter Christ­mas.

Sup­port

“We have a core of about 13 or 14 play­ers who when fit, are a match for any­one in this com­pe­ti­tion,” said Bell.

“But when you look at the squads of the likes of Wolfs­burg, Bay­ern Mu­nich and Lyon, they have fi­nan­cial power to add even more top play­ers and will be very strong this year.

“All those teams have big sup­port from their men’s club, and we don’t have that, so we’re de­ter­mined to show a club not af­fil­i­ated with the men's side can go on and do well once again.” A win against Bristol Academy in last year’s quar­ter-fi­nals al­lowed the charis­matic coach the op­por­tu­nity to re­turn home for a stint as the club went on to claim its first

Euro­pean ti­tle since 2007-2008, and its fourth over­all – more than any other club.

This year, Frank­furt kick-off their cam­paign against Bel­gium’s Stan­dard Liege, who them­selves are hav­ing to cope with the loss of their star striker, 22-year-old Tessa Wul­leart, who joined Frank­furt’s ri­vals Wolfs­burg in the sum­mer.

But de­spite his team be­ing over­whelm­ing favourites, Bell is tak­ing noth­ing for granted.

“We’ve watched Liege the last few weeks and they are a well or­gan­ised team who will look to get a re­sult in the first leg in Bel­gium,” he said.

“They came to watch us against Pots­dam and looked at the sta­dium and sur­round­ings, so they’ve done their home­work and they will be a tough chal­lenge, but we’ll look to get our strat­egy right.”

A trip to Bel­gium at least presents a sim­pler jour­ney than last year, with Frank­furt be­gin­ning their cam­paign out in Kaza­khstan, which re­sulted in a num­ber of flights and hours in ththe air that could have been spent on the train­ing pitch.

“That wasn’t easy and I’m glad we can just take the bus over to Bel­gium be­cause it cre­ates less stress and we don't spend hours in the air,”he added.

“Nonethe­less, it won’t be an easy game.”

Enig­matic

Bell has been based in Ger­many for over 30 years now a spell work­ing with Jur­gen Klopp at Mainz, but still very much con­sid­ers him­self a proud English­man, some­thing he em­pha­sised when em­pha­sised won the Cham­pi­ons League last sea­son.

With Liver­pool Ladies and Chelsea Ladies lead­ing the English charge in this year’s com­pe­ti­tion, the for­mer Le­ices­ter City player was quick to ac­knowl­edge the rise of the Lon­don club, and was glad to avoid them at this early stage.

He said: “I think Chelsea have im­proved and have built up a good side over the last two years with some

high qual­ity play­ers, so they are def­i­nitely a team to watch.

“I was ac­tu­ally pleased to avoid them be­cause they were un­seeded and we could have drawn them, but I would have been dis­ap­pointed to meet them this early.”

The Frank­furt coach was com­pli­men­tary of Liver­pool’s back to back league ti­tles, but when asked about their chances of mak­ing an im­pact in Europe this year, he did raise con­cerns as to how the team would cope mov­ing for­ward with­out man­ager Matt Beard, who re­cently an­nounced he was leav­ing to join the NWSL in Amer­ica, and how a poor league sea­son would af­fect their con­fi­dence.

“Matt’s de­par­ture will af­fect them and it will be in­ter­est­ing to see how they man­age with that,” he said.

“I think it’s go­ing to be a tough time for Liver­pool, but it will be in­ter­est­ing to see how they fair.”

With giants such as Frank­furt and Lyon en­ter­ing the com­pe­ti­tion at the round of 32, the league phase of the com­pe­ti­tion has al­ready passed, which means clubs en­ter straight into a knock­out com­pe­ti­tion, much like the for­mer men’s Euro­pean Cup. Bell out­lined his en­thu­si­asm for the com­pe­ti­tion to be re­formed in the fu­ture, so the tour­na­ment mir­rors its male coun­ter­parts, of­fer­ing even more com­pe­ti­tion to those that qual­ify.

At­trac­tive

“I'm not sure if the fi­nan­cial power is there yet, but it’s cer­tainly some­thing I’d love to see,” he con­cluded.

“It’s called Cham­pi­ons League, but it's mostly knock­out, so I’d like to see groups of four and see how we can make the com­pe­ti­tion more at­trac­tive.”

The UEFA Women’s Cham­pi­ons League first legs kick off this week with both Chelsea Ladies and Liver­pool Ladies in ac­tion on Thurs­day.

Chelsea host Scot­tish Cham­pi­ons Glas­gow City FC, who were knocked out by even­tual fi­nal­ists PSG at the quar­ter-fi­nal stage last year, while Liver­pool travel to a Italy to face Bres­cia hop­ing to im­prove on their last 32 exit to Swedish side Linkop­ing.

CASH CON­CERN: Colin Bell knows the size of the task

PIC­TURE: The FA

NEW START: Matt Beard is head­ing State­side af­ter leav­ing Liver­pool GREAT­EST GLORY: Heroic Frank­furt celebrate win­ning the Cham­pi­ons League

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