Birmingham City LFC's debut UEFA Women's Champions League tie last season against ASD Verona CF ended in the heartbreak of seeing a 2-0 first-leg victory overturned in Italy after extra time. This time four perfect wins have set up an all-English quarter-final with Arsenal LFC.
The Blues welcome Arsenal on 24 March to St Andrew's, where they beat FK Zorkiy Krasnogorsk 5-2 to get past the round of 16 in their first appearance at the men's stadium. Now, in the shape of the 2007 European champions, Birmingham face a side that beat them four times last term. However, midfielders Jade Moore and Jo Potter believe they can avenge those losses, and tell UEFA.com what playing at St Andrew's means to the team and how they have turned around their UEFA Women's Champions League fortunes.
UEFA.com: How are preparations going for the new season and the game against Arsenal?
Jade Moore: Preparations are going really well. We're coming to the end of our pre-season now, the games are starting to come thick and fast with 90-minute friendlies and all that. So we're getting there, we are slowly but surely climbing that mountain to full fitness
Jo Potter: I think it's coming together nicely. Just at the right time, hopefully.
UEFA.com: You played the last round at St Andrew's and you're going to be playing Arsenal there. How special is it to play at the men's stadium?
Moore: Very, very special. I think as a whole, as a club, as a city, to get a women's game played at this ground is massive. It's a massive achievement for everyone, in and behind the scenes, who has made it happen, made it work.
Potter: For us to come and play at St Andrew's is a massive honour, especially for me. I've been at the club a number of years and a few of the players have as well; it's something they'll always cherish and treasure to play at this ground.
UEFA.com: All season in the Women's Champions League you've had good performances. Why do you think it's brought the best out of the team?
Potter: I just think we had a few months to gel and to come together. And we always seem to come good towards the end of the season, for some reason; I'm not too sure why, I think it's just how we tend to play. We had some good games under our belt and we knew the Champions League was a massive thing for the club. Not just for the players and the staff but for everybody in the background who has helped get the club where they are
Moore: Big occasions, I think, make big players turn up; I think that's one thing we've got with us, that on the big occasions we don't tend to fall. Hopefully that'll be the same for this one against Arsenal.
UEFA.com: How have you enjoyed this European run, considering the disappointment of last year?
Moore: I think last year's experience of not getting through and having that disappointment and setback has helped us massively to take that sort of experience and counteract it, and make sure those disappointments don't happen again.
UEFA.com: Last year you played Arsenal four times and lost every one. How do you think it could be different this time?
Potter: Hopefully that was in the past, and we've looked to kick on and strengthen our squad and strengthen the players that we've got. Everyone's been training really hard and doing what we need to do to progress, and although we lost four times to Arsenal, a few of the results, I would say, were a lot tighter than the game showed. But it's always tough when you play Arsenal. They're a brilliant team and they've obviously produced year in, year out, so they're always going to be a strong outfit. But we've proved before that we can beat them and we can match them, and hopefully we'll give them a good go this time.
Potter: Yes, hopefully. We've always had a strong team and a strong squad. Just adding one or two players will hopefully make a big difference. We've strengthened in areas that we needed to strengthen and, you know, still having that stability of the squad that are together, hopefully just bringing one or two in will really help us when we come to play at St Andrew's.
UEFA.com: There's a long way to go before this happens; what would it mean to get to Lisbon and to get to the final, for yourself and for the club?
Moore: Massive! That's still quite a long way off for us. We just want to take each game as it comes, get the result, hopefully here, then obviously we've got the second leg and that's going to be another tough challenge. So we're just going to take each opponent as it comes, and if we get there – fingers crossed we do – hopefully we'll paint Lisbon blue.
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