Let’s get Wolfs­burg re­venge, says Eni

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

CHELSEA Ladies striker Eni Aluko says her side has ‘no fear’ go­ing into the UEFA Women’s Cham­pi­ons League af­ter the Blues were drawn against Wolfs­burg in the round of 32 – the team that knocked them out of the com­pe­ti­tion last sea­son.

Emma Hayes’ side, un­seeded for the com­pe­ti­tion de­spite win­ning last year’s FA Women’s Su­per League, were beaten 4-1 on ag­gre­gate by Ralf Keller­mann’s team over two legs in the last 16 last year, and now face the task of try­ing to re­verse that re­sult when the teams meet next month.

Aluko, who has been in daz­zling form for her club in 2016, says her side go into the tie a bet­ter team than last year, and in con­fi­dent mood.

“It’s a tough draw – when you’re un­seeded it’s a bit of a lot­tery be­cause you don’t know who you’re go­ing to get,” she said.

“I think it’s an ad­van­tage we’ve played them be­fore, be­cause we know how they play and there’s no un­known en­tity there. We’re feel­ing pos­i­tive and be­lieve in our abil­ity.”

Wolfs­burg pro­gressed all the way to the fi­nal last year, los­ing on penal­ties to Lyon in the fi­nal in Reg­gio Emilia in Italy, and this week added Ger­man in­ter­na­tional Anja Mit­tag to their ranks from Paris St Ger­main.

But de­spite a wealth of at­tack­ing tal­ent, Aluko is not fazed by the chal­lenge, and was quick to build up her own team’s abil­ity, which she felt could match the Ger­mans.

Con­fi­dent

“We’ve got Gemma Dav­i­son, Ji So-Yun and Karen Car­ney, the lot, so we’re con­fi­dent we can match them,” she said.

“It’s a bit of cat and mouse be­cause with the home leg you al­ways want to keep a clean sheet, and maybe be a bit more tac­ti­cal in the away leg.”

One crit­i­cism of the Cham­pi­ons League has been the seed­ings process, with the 16 teams with the high­est co­ef­fi­cient mak­ing up the seeded pot. With Chelsea only in their sec­ond Euro­pean cam­paign, and Manch­ester City mak­ing their de­but, both went into the un­seeded pot, de­spite ar­guably be­ing stronger than some of the teams seeded above them.

Blues head coach Hayes said this needs to be re­viewed.

“It seems ridicu­lous to me that the cham­pi­ons of Eng­land are not seeded,” she said.

“It’s a sys­tem that pro­tects the very few, and that’s some­thing that needs to be re­viewed.

“We ac­cepted be­ing un­seeded last year as debu­tants, but as cham­pi­ons of Eng­land we feel that’s some­thing we’re go­ing to have to fight for at the Euro­pean Club As­so­ci­a­tion.”

Jour­ney

Else­where, cur­rent WSL lead­ers and Cham­pi­ons League debu­tants Manch­ester City will be hap­pier with their draw, but have a long jour­ney to Rus­sia, where

they will face WFC Zvezda-2005, who were fi­nal­ists in the last UEFA Women’s Cup in 2009.

How­ever, it won’t be easy, as the Rus­sians have never lost a last 32 tie in their pre­vi­ous four ap­pear­ances in the com­pe­ti­tion.

Man­ager Nick Cush­ing said: “We know ev­ery game would be tough be­cause it’s the Cham­pi­ons League and we weren’t seeded.

“We’ll ap­proach the games as we would nor­mally, look­ing to win.”

PIC­TURE: The FA

AIM­ING FOR GLORY: Eni Aluko is ea­ger to hit the goal trail against Wolfs­burg in the Cham­pi­ons League

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