As Chelsea Ladies and their fans alike begin the count down towards the start of the Woman’s Super League, Emma Hayes has been putting her squad through their paces with some rigorous training exercises and a set of difficult pre-season fixtures. The Blues have now completed their run of friendlies and will head back to England to rest up and get themselves ready for the forthcoming season.
Chelsea travelled to Austria and made the Central European country their training base for a short while. The Blues couldn’t have picked a tougher opponent for their first friendly as they faced reigning Bundesliga Champions and multiple Champions’ League winners VFL Wolfsburg. Although Wolfsburg were further ahead in their pre-season program, Chelsea Ladies surprisingly started brightly and were in control for much of the first half but somehow still managed to find themselves 1-0 down at the break. In the second half, Wolfsburg’s superior fitness levels prevailed as they extended their lead and eventually finished the game as 3-1 winners. Chelsea acquitted themselves well against a team that they have never beaten in now 5 attempts and as it was the first game of pre-season, there were plenty of positives for the team to take from the outing.
Three days later, Chelsea followed up playing the Bundesliga champions by playing the previous champions in Bayern Munich Women. Unfortunately, although Emma Hayes freshened up most of the 11 that started the previous game, Bayern got three second half goals to win the match comfortably 3-0.
That was the end of the tour in Austria and it was time for the team to travel back to England, specifically to St. Georges Park, to play at the national team’s training centre against Everton Ladies. Chelsea managed to finally win their first game of pre-season as they beat Everton 2-1 in a match Emma Hayes’ side dominated.
Chelsea rounded off their pre-season programme by travelling to Portugal to play Sporting Lisbon and couldn’t have wished for a better way to finish their preparations. The Ladies ran out emphatic 8-1 winners with 5 different players getting on the scoresheet. There was even a chance to catch a glimpse of The Blues’ newest signing Maria Thorisdottir. The Norwegian defender started the game and was on for about an hour, slotting in perfectly to the 3-4-2-1 system.
With a record of 2 wins and 2 losses from their pre-season games, Chelsea Ladies can come away with a feeling of satisfaction but knowing they still have a lot of work to do if they want to compete in the big games this season. The first two friendlies against last season’s top two in Germany were vital in showing the Blues the level they will be aspiring to reach this year and with Manchester City Ladies going further in the Champions League than any other British team last season, Chelsea know that knocking City off their perch will be their toughest task.