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Press wants Tyresö push against Birmingham

"This is our last hurrah as a team," Christen Press told UEFA.com as Tyresö FF prepare to welcome Birmingham City LFC on Sunday with their semi-final level at 0-0.

Christen Press takes on Jade Moore (left) and Aiofe Mannion in the first leg
Christen Press takes on Jade Moore (left) and Aiofe Mannion in the first leg ©Ville Vuorinen/Digitalsport.org

To be hosting a UEFA Women's Champions League semi-final second leg with the scoreline at 0-0 is motivation enough, never mind knowing that whatever happens the squad will break up when the campaign ends.

Tyresö FF's debut continental season has taken them to within one game of the final in Lisbon as they welcome Birmingham City LFC on Sunday following last weekend's goalless first leg in England. But Tyresö's winter financial crisis means the star players that have got them there, including Marta, Caroline Seger and top scorer Christen Press, will all leave in the summer. This is their one chance for European glory as a team.

Press, who joined from Göteborg FC at the start of 2013, told UEFA.com: "The team is here for the Champions League. Six players will be leaving in June after this tournament so this is our last hurrah as a team and it means so much to us."

The European priority was made clear on Wednesday when Tyresö rested all their key players for the Swedish league game against Eskilstuna United DFF, Press a second-half substitute in the 2-0 defeat. But the continental focus has been obvious since their competition bow in the round of 32. "Our first Champions League opponents were PSG," said Press. "There was never a moment when we didn't feel that pressure, feel that opportunity. We did everything we could not to let it slip."

Despite a third 0-0 away draw in four European games last week, the United States forward is confident Tyresö can keep up their perfect competition record at home. "We expect to have a lot of support there because we've gone through everything in the last year with this team and we've had great support from our fans; they've been with us all the way," Press said. "This is a special group and we are not going to be together for that much longer."

Birmingham are only on their second European entry themselves, having fallen in the round of 32 last season, but six clean sheets in their seven-game run has helped the youthful squad on to the verge of a place in the Lisbon showpiece. The defence, though, will be missing suspended centre-back Kerys Harrop. "It will be a blow individually to her," said manager David Parker. "But [before the first leg] we played three games in six days and rotated the squad. We have got more than enough able deputies."

As for his defence, which had an average age of 20 last week in a side that all hailed from England, and ten from the Midlands, Parker added: "It's a bedrock that we build off. It gives us a great platform to go and win a game of football, but that can distract the headlines sometimes. Looking at our forward players we generally always get a goal. Our team scores goals and with our clean sheets we are always likely to win."

Will miss final if booked
Tyresö: Marta, Thaisa
Birmingham: Chelsea Weston, Kirsty Linnett, Emily Westwood

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