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Women's Champions League final: Chelsea key players

We pick out the Chelsea players who could make the difference against Barcelona on Sunday in Gothenburg.

Sam Kerr finished her first full season in Europe as the English league top scorer
Sam Kerr finished her first full season in Europe as the English league top scorer UEFA via Getty Images

The keeper: Ann-Katrin Berger

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Chelsea had three international goalkeepers on their books, including the evergreen Hedvig Lindahl, when Emma Hayes signed Berger, who had recently recovered from thyroid cancer, in January 2019. With the German's Birmingham City contract set to end that summer, Hayes was keen to ensure she got hold of the former Turbine Potsdam and Paris Saint-Germain keeper and made Berger her No1 for the rest of the run to the UEFA Women's Champions League semi-finals.

Chelsea team guide

Over the last two years, Hayes' confidence in Berger has been repaid, with a string of brilliant performances. Cases in point from the run to this final: the two round of 16 penalty saves against Atlético and the heroic display in the quarter-final first leg against Wolfsburg in Budapest, after which Hayes said Berger was "the best in the world".

Defensive rock: Magdalena Eriksson

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Hoping to lift the trophy in her native Sweden is centre-back Eriksson. She and England's Millie Bright have formed a tremendous partnership and the 2020 Swedish player of the year is not only a defender of strength and technical excellence, but also a ball player who can launch attacks.

Eriksson has captained Chelsea since 2019 and relishes her leadership role, saying: "I want to be a good team-mate and make everyone feel like they can be themselves in our environment. If needed I’ll step up and do what has to be done."

Playmaker: Pernille Harder

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Harder has tasted UEFA Women's Champions League final defeat with Wolfsburg in 2018, when she briefly gave them the lead in extra time against Lyon, and 2020. It was after that second final loss to Lyon that Harder made the switch to Chelsea, shortly before she was named UEFA Women's Player of the Year for an unprecedented second time.

A prolific goalscorer at Wolfsburg and previous clubs Linköping and Skovbakken in her native Denmark, Harder has been playing just off the front two for Chelsea, giving full range to her all-round skills and range of passing. She continues to chip in with regular goals, though, including a spectacular strike six minutes into her home Chelsea debut, and scoring in both legs against former club Wolfsburg.

Goalscorer: Fran Kirby/Sam Kerr

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It is hard to single one of Chelsea's front two out, such has been their understanding this season. Australia forward Kerr arrived from the United States in a blaze of publicity at the start of 2020 but was not initially partnered with England's Kirby, who was in the middle of a long absence due to illness.

Once Kirby returned this season, she and Kerr have been, in Hayes's words, "ying and yang". Their understanding has become even more prolific as the season has gone on, the highlight perhaps March's League Cup final when Kirby scored two and got four assists, three of them in a Kerr hat-trick. Kerr dethroned Vivianne Miedema as FA Women's Super League top scorer with 21 goals as Chelsea retained the English title; Kirby, not far behind on 16, is now Chelsea's all-time leading scorer. Both her goals in Sunday's league-clinching win at Reading were assisted by Kerr, whose own strike was in turn set up by Kirby.

 

Key players: Barcelona