Either Barcelona or Chelsea will have a place in the 2023 Women’s Champions League final at the end of 90 or 120 minutes at Camp Nou this week as the pair contest their semi-final second leg.
Barcelona, aiming for a third successive final in the competition, hold a slender 1-0 advantage from the first leg last weekend when Caroline Graham Hansen scored the only goal at Stamford Bridge.
By virtue of that lead and now being at home, the Catalans are in the driving seat, but it is not beyond Chelsea to get back into the tie if they get their tactics right.
Chelsea were comfortably beaten by Barcelona in their only previous appearance in the Champions League final in 2021, while Barcelona fell to Lyon in the 2022 edition.
The big question for Barcelona will be the potential involvement of Alexia Putellas. The captain hasn’t played all season because of an ACL injury suffered on the eve of Euro 2022 last summer, but travelled with the squad to London for the first leg and is nearing a return sooner rather than later.
A decision will be made closer to the game, but she could feasibly be on the bench and come on if Barcelona are comfortably ahead in the tie.
Emma Hayes used almost every inch of her available squad in the first leg. Millie Bright, Kadeisha Buchanan and Fran Kirby all missed out and would usually start in Chelsea’s strongest team.
Lauren James was the vicitim of a tactical reshuffle, relegated to the bench, and could be again.
Chelsea will give this everything. But with the key players they have missing, it could be one hurdle too many against one of the best women’s club teams of all time.
An early Chelsea goal could make it interesting, but Barcelona hold the initiative and aren’t under pressure to chase the game. But, at some point, the visitors will have to go for it, which has the potential to leave too many gaps and allow Barcelona to pick them off.