Bristol Academy WFC have upset the odds to make the quarter-finals. We hear from the hero against FC Barcelona, Nikki Watts, and returning Sharla Passariello.
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The only English top-flight team not connected to a men's club, Bristol Academy WFC have done tremendously to reach the UEFA Women's Champions League quarter-finals but now face the toughest test of all – 1. FFC Frankfurt.
Bristol made the last eight with an impressive defeat of FC Barcelona, their late aggregate clincher at Ashton Gate coming from striker Nikki Watts. Despite an English close-season exodus of players, Watts remains and as they return to the home of Bristol City FC to welcome three-time tournament winners Frankfurt on Saturday, she spoke to UEFA.com along with forward Sharla Passariello, who rejoined the side in the winter after a spell studying in the United States.
Click on each audio player to hear extended interviews with Watts and Passariello.
UEFA.com: Nikki, what does it mean to the club to be in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Women's Champions League?
Nikki Watts: I think it's fair to say it's probably the biggest game in this club's history so far. I know we've made a couple of FA [Women's] Cup final appearances in the past, but I would say this game is probably going to surpass that. It's a really big achievement for the club, especially on a small budget like we are. But we will definitely be looking to go further and progress onto the next round.
UEFA.com: Sharla – what a game to come back to?
Sharla Passariello: Yes, it is definitely a challenging game to come back into. It's a big game for the club and obviously all the players as well. It's something you don't do all the time in your life. It's not like a common thing to be involved in. I have never been the type of person to back away from a challenge, I look forward to just jumping into challenges, so I am looking forward to this.
UEFA.com: What do you know about Frankfurt?
Watts: They're obviously a massive team in women's football – I think they've won this competition three times in the past. So that speaks for their history in itself. But hopefully we won't be too fazed by that and we can get a good result leading to the second leg.
Passariello: Obviously they are household names in women's football. I try not to look too much into them and focus on ourselves and what we have to improve on and where we are going as a team.
UEFA.com: You do not have the same financial resources as other clubs at this level, does it give you a special pride to make it so far?
Watts: I think we really do relish being the underdogs a lot of the time. Not just in this competition, but domestically as well. But we've really shown that if you've got a togetherness and the quality to go with it, you don't need to spend big in order to achieve things.
UEFA.com: Nicky, you got the decisive goal against Barcelona. Are the memories of that game still quite fresh?
Watts: It seems like a lifetime ago, it's been such a long time, a long break, new faces coming in, people leaving. But I do keep looking back and pinching myself. It was quite an unbelievable evening [13 November 2014], to be honest.
UEFA.com: And now you are back at Ashton Gate again, a good omen?
Watts: Fingers crossed it can be. I mean, hopefully we get a good turnout again, lots of fans coming to watch us, and they get right behind us like they did, especially in that second half against Barcelona, because that really did help us. Then hopefully we get a good result to take to Germany with us.
Passariello: Yes, it's always nice to play in a nice stadium, a nice pitch, it does help the run of play a lot better, you are not worried about bobbly pitches or dents in the pitch or whatever. So it's going to be fun. I think it will be a good atmosphere, I know we will get a good crowd.