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Women's Champions League final: meet the teams – Chelsea

What's their pedigree and how did they get here? A closer look at Chelsea.

DeFodi Images via Getty Images


Possible XI: Berger; Charles, Bright, Eriksson, Andersson; Leupolz, Ingle, Ji; Harder; Kirby, Kerr

Suspended: none
Injured: Maren Mjelde (right-back)

Meet the teams: Barcelona


UEFA club ranking: 7
Previous finals: 0

Route to the final

Qualified: English champions
Round of 32: Benfica 8-0agg
Round of 16: Atlético 3-1agg
Quarter-finals: Wolfsburg 5-1agg
Semi-finals: Bayern München 5-3agg
Season top scorer: Fran Kirby (6)

Why they can win it

Chelsea celebrate Fran Kirby's clinching semi-final goal against Bayern
Chelsea celebrate Fran Kirby's clinching semi-final goal against BayernChelsea FC via Getty Images

No club have previously reached the finals of the women's and men's UEFA Champions League in the same season but Chelsea in recent years have invested in their female squad like their male selection, manager Emma Hayes saying: “It's one club. That’s just the DNA of this place – and it breeds winning."

To that end, in September they signed Pernille Harder days after she had lost a second UEFA Women's Champions League final with Wolfsburg; she was subsequently named UEFA Women's Player of the Year for an unprecedented second time. Joining an attack with Fran Kirby and another marquee 2020 signing, Sam Kerr, Chelsea have had the firepower, stability at the back, and squad depth to knock out three of last season's quarter-finalists and again come out on top in England's hugely-competitive top flight.

Chelsea key players

Campaign so far

Highly-rated debutants Benfica were blown away 5-0 away and 3-0 at home and then Atlético, highest ranked of the unseeded last-16 sides, were seen off. Despite Chelsea losing Sophie Ingle to an early first-leg red card the Blues prevailed, Ann-Katrin Berger saving two first-leg penalties and the Spanish side missing another in the return.

Both legs of the quarter-final against Wolfsburg were played in Budapest, against a club who had knocked Chelsea out in three of their four previous European campaigns. But Berger was brilliant in the first leg and, perhaps inevitably, Harder scored in both games, as did Kerr. Bayern inflicted a rare defeat on Chelsea in the semi-final first leg, though Melanie Leupolz got a freak away goal against her old club, and the Blues held their nerve back at Kingsmeadow thanks to late goals by Harder and Kirby, whose added-time clincher made her competition joint-top scorer on six.

Talking tactics

Emma Hayes at the moment Chelsea reached the final
Emma Hayes at the moment Chelsea reached the finalChelsea FC via Getty Images

In big games this season, Hayes has deployed Kerr and Kirby as a front two and between them in 2021 they have combined for 30 goals in the 19 games they have started together, a large number assisted by each other. Harder plays in support with Ingle holding the midfield flanked usually by Ji So-yun and Melanie Leupolz, though Erin Cuthbert and Guro Reiten are strong alternatives.

Captain Magdalena Eriksson and Millie Bright keep it tight in central defence, with Jonna Andersson usually at left-back and Jess Carter on the right with Maren Mjelde injured, though converted forward Niamh Charles can cover either full-back position. Berger has been superb in goal all season.

The boss: Emma Hayes

Hayes was appointed in 2012 and has won ten trophies in that time, most recently another league title last Sunday. She was on the coaching team the only other time an English club has reached this final when Vic Akers led Arsenal to 2006/07 UEFA Women's Cup victory, and subsequently worked in the United States before her Chelsea appointment.

She told UEFA.com: "We never feel like the game is over, and we always feel, regardless of the scoreline, that we've got a chance. That doesn't come around often in teams, that takes a while to build. This team has the making of champions, and I think deservedly we're in the final because we've been able to do exactly what we needed to in the right times."