Chelsea Ladies captain Katie Chapman believes tomorrow’s Champions League quarter-final second leg is the biggest match in the club’s history.
The Blues welcome Montpellier to Kingsmeadow tomorrow night with a 2-0 aggregate advantage following their win away in France last week.
And skipper Chapman knows what it takes having won the tournament with Arsenal in 2007 — as yet the only English side to do so — an experience she will draw on tomorrow.
“It is the biggest night in the club’s history. Every female player aims to play in the Champions League and they want to aim for those big games, big stages, big challenges,” she said.
“For me, I love playing in the big games and I do love this club and it would be great to take this club in that direction.
“The team Emma’s built over the years she’s been here, we’ve just seen it progress and we’ve got to a stage and a point where she’s brought all those players together.
“We’re all here, we all want to do the same thing. The different nationalities and cultures bring different parts to the team and I think it’s made us a great team.”
Chapman believes this is the best Chelsea side she has been a part of since joining the club from Arsenal in 2014.
The 35-year-old added: “We’re in the competition we want to be in, we’re playing against the best clubs in Europe. So for us to make history for Chelsea would be great.
“We know we’ve got to stay mentally strong, preparing ourselves in the best way we can, tactically and get our bodies in the right place and get ourselves over the line on Wednesday.”
Women’s football in England is entering a golden age in Europe, with Manchester City also hoping to make the final four, which could include two English teams for the first time.
Chelsea, knocked out by German outfit Wolfsburg in the Round of 32 in last season’s competition, may have the chance to exact revenge should they progress tomorrow, with the Germans set to be their semi-final opponents.
City, Lyon and Barcelona are all on the other side of the draw and Chapman believes this presents Chelsea with a fantastic opportunity to reach the final.
“I think it is a great opportunity for us. We would come up against Wolfsburg in the next round. We’ve played against them before so we should be pretty well prepared and know what they will throw at us,” she said.
“We’re not quite there yet, there’s still a second leg. Montpellier have got nothing to lose, they will definitely throw everything at us. If they do get that early goal, it will absolutely change the game.”
Tomorrow’s tie represents Chelsea’s fourth game in 11 days, and will be followed by a top-of-the-table Women’s Super League 1 fixture at Arsenal on Sunday, before the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City two weeks later.
But Chapman believes the squad are capable of dealing with the fixture congestion as they continue to fight on these three fronts.
She said: “It’s been tough – recovery is the key part to it because there has only been two or three days between games so it’s doing what you can.
“We’re of the mindset that we’re mentally strong, that we know that we have to get ourselves through this period and this period is really important for us as a club.”