Let’s get Wolfsburg revenge, says Eni
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.
“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.”
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.”
AIMING FOR GLORY: Eni Aluko is eager to hit the goal trail against Wolfsburg in the Champions League