Chelsea V Wolfsburg - What a game!
Chelsea went into this game having played Wolfsburg six times and losing all. Now they were back to face them in the Women's Champion League Quarter Final after securing a win against Bristol City WFC.
Wolfsburg clearly had the upper hand with their winning streak, but Chelsea were still the favourite to win this fixture because of how much the team has developed since the teams were last head to head.
Due to the COVID travel restrictions both teams agreed to play both legs at Ferenc Szusza Stadium in Budapest, Hungary. This round was classed as Chelsea's home game, despite being played in Europe.
The first half ended 0-0 with both halves not being able to break through. However, Wolfsburg were having more chances that could have potentially ended Chelsea’s hope of getting through to the semi-finals and breaking that losing streak with Wolfsburg. The incredible Ann-Katrik Berger (Chelsea's goalie) stepped up, keeping Chelsea in the game. I am sure the fans are also grateful for the support provided by the goal post, with it added to the 'player of the match poll' by Chelsea Women Supporters Group - Receiving the second highest vote ahead of Niamh Charles and Sam Kerr and losing out to Ann-Katrin Berger.
The second half underway, both teams looked to have more energy on the pitch. Chelsea was forced to defend more against Wolfsburg’s long balls and crosses - Fridolina Rolfo hit the woodwork at 49’. Luckily, the shot was way off target as there was no saving that, not even for AKB. The second half saw Chelsea having more possession on the ball, which did not seem to favor them. As seen from their recent gameplay, Chelsea perform well on counter-attacks, getting the ball from their goalkeeper to the opponents net in fewer passes than most teams. Due to the talent on the pitch, Chelsea have the ability to break away fast on the counter attack with the performance from the athletic talent provided in the midfield - interrupting the opponents play and getting the ball to the striker up front really quick.
The first goal at 54’ was a stereotypical goal that we have seen this team score time and time again. The incredible pitch relationship between Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby saw Chelsea at 1-0. Kirby gave an assist to Kerr who held on to the ball and squared off with Katarzyna Kiedrzynek (Wolfsburg goalkeeper), seemed like Kerr had gone out of the reach of goal till she pulled back and shot from a tight corner.
📸: The Guardian
Having more yellow cards than Chelsea did not seem to slow down Wolfsburg because they were the more dominating and threatening team on the pitch. However, Chelsea's Harder scored against her former team. Harder is the most expensive female player in the world, runner up for FIFA’s best award last year just edged out by Lucy Bronze. Harder made it 2-0, at 65’. Chelsea punished Wolfsburg for playing from the back when Katarzyna played the ball just beyond the reach of Kirby who latched on, passed to Kerr who set up Harder - she shoots and she scores.
Ironically Chelsea had more possession but never seem to dominate the game again after the first few minutes, Wolfsburg had 22 shots and 8 on target to Chelsea’s 6 shots and 3 on target. Luck may have played a role in this Chelsea’s win but you cannot help but admire a team that converted 66% of their chances against one of Europes best teams.
Wolfsburg only goal coming from a penalty conceded by Magdalena after a tackle in the box. Janssen took it and after the two penalty saves made by Berger in the Round of 16, 1st leg against Atletico Madrid some were hoping for a repeat but Janssen buried it and made it 2-1.
For the first time Chelsea won the fixture against Wolfsburg, but due to the away goal rule - Wolfsburg are still very much in the competition. Chelsea are half way there and being away next is going to be an added advantage. Now if Chelsea could stop conceding penalties that would be great, they have conceded 4 in their last 3 games fortunately for them Berger has saved 2, 1 was off target and Wolfsburg converted theirs. In a game this tight that penalty could very well cost them a spot in the Semi-Final if they do not bring their A-game in the second leg.
It was raining yellow cards in this fixture that even Emma Hayes Chelsea women’s coach got a taste when Popp ran into Berger after the Chelsea goalkeeper plucked the ball from mid-air and Emma made her displeasure known to the referee.
Roll on the battle of Chelsea vs Wolfsburg in the 2nd Leg on Wednesday 31st March 2021!
- Louisa Okolobe