Chelsea vs VFL Wolfsburg: Last Eight Showdown

Chelsea will travel to Hungary to take on reigning Frauen Bundesliga titleholders on Wednesday. Both fixtures will be played in the Hungarian capital Budapest at Ujpest’s Szusza Ferenc Stadion due to travel restrictions regarding Covid-19. The stakes are high: it’s Chelsea vs VFL Wolfsburg.

Chelsea vs VFL Wolfsburg: The UWCL Journey

The Blues from London might have had a little bit more bumpy road to the quarter final while the Wolves enter this stage without having conceded any goal so far. 

Chelsea started their journey vs Portugese domestic champions Benfica with an aggregated scoreline 8:0.

The reigning WSL champions then drew what some would call the hardest opponent in the round of 16 when they took on Primera Iberdrola club Atletico Madrid. The Blues showed courage and a strong mentality winning the first leg at home on Kingsmeadow with 2:0. This even after being reduced to 10 players after 12 minutes when Sophie Ingle was sent off with a red card. The rest is already in the history books. Atletico missed their chance to capitalize on the following penalty when Chelsea goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger A.K.A the penalty brick wall, saved it. 

What happened next? Chelsea scored two goals and Atletico missed out on the opportunity to score on a second penalty they were given. 

Wolfsburg ended up in the quarter-final after beating ZFK Spartak in the round of 32 with the aggregated scoreline 7:0 and then after an aggregated score of 4:0 against Norwegian league winners LSK Kvinner. 

We’ve Met Before

Last time Chelsea were up against Wolfsburg was in the semi-final of the tournament back in spring 2018. The Blues fought well, but the differences in quality was too big to ignore and Chelsea were knocked out with the aggregated score 5:1 and had to see Wolfsburg progressing into the final that season. Pernille Harder starred that day for Wolfsburg!

Chelsea vs VFL Wolfsburg: Ones to Watch

Wolfsburg have a lot of experience of the tournament and have reached far into it in recent years. Last year they played the final against mighty Lyon after beating Barcelona in the semifinal. The French dominance was not yet ready to cave in and Lyon grabbed the fashionable title yet again after winning 3:1. 

If you need a reminder, the Wolves suffered a major loss back in September when Pernille Harder joined Chelsea after four successful seasons with the Germans. 

Harder was, without a doubt Wolfsburg’s most important player and an essential part of the style of play head coach Stephan Lerch had chosen to build his tactics and formation. 

Pernille Harder will be looking to knock out her former side.
Pernille Harder will be looking to knock her old team out in Hungary. Image Credit: Harriet Lander – Chelsea FC/Chelsea FC via Getty Images.

Since the Dane’s move to England’s capital, Chelsea Lerch has tried a couple of players in the classic No.10 role. First it was German international Svenja Huth. More recently we have seen Huth’s fellow, young super talent Lena Oberdorf playing that part. Huth might be the most similar player to compare with Pernille Harder, if you look at their individual qualities such as dribbles, touches in the final third, crosses and carries. Huth plays out wide on the right-hand side in Wolfsburg’s attack where Lerch’s usually plays a 4-3-3 formation.  Here, Huth is accompanied by Sweden internationals Rebecka Blomqvist and Fridolina Rolfö.  

Wolfsburg: The Key Names

The Wolves is a team full of world-class players. However, they, for the first time in years, sit second in the German league table. They have been without team captain Alexandra Popp and goalscorer Ewa Pajor for a major part of the current season. Both players are now back; Popp has been playing regularly since the return of the league after the Christmas break. Pajor returned as a sub in the round of 16 of the Champions League. The Polish international has yet not started but has been subbed into all games after her return from a knee injury. 

Ewa Pajor is returning from injury and will be a big bonus for the Wolves.
Pajor will be a massive threat for Chelsea and the Blues will have to keep them quiet. Image Credit: Daniela Porcelli / Getty Images.

Together with Fran Kirby and Sam Kerr, Pernille Harder plays an equally important part for her new team. This time not as an individual but as a unit. Having dropped down the field compared to where she steered the wheel at Wolfsburg the Dane can use one of many of her best skills to set up super-duo Kerrby in great opportunities to score. Chelsea’s ‘new’ tactic and playing style set them apart from most women’s football teams right now.

It’s the ‘tap tap and BOOM’ play that is significant for the Blues right now, where most goals come from winning the ball on their own half, just to turn the play around quick and play the ball forward before it ends up in the back of the net of the opponents with only three-four touches.  

Young Niamh Charles will probably face the most entertaining and toughest challenge in her time since joining Chelsea. If Hayes sticks with the 4-4-2 formation with a diamond in the middle, Charles will have to deal with forward Fridolina Rolfö, who is known for her pace, strength and good physics and her skilled left foot known for its quality crosses and shots from outside the box. The Swede will probably be the tallest player on the field on Wednesday which also will demand a lot from Chelsea’s backline when defending set-pieces. 

Predicted XIs:

Chelsea:


Berger

Charles, Bright, Eriksson, Andersson

Ingle, Ji, Leupolz

Harder

Kerr, Kirby

Wolfsburg


Kiedrzynek

Hendrich, Janssen, Doorsun, Rauch

Engen, Oberdorf, Popp

Huth, Blomqvist, Rolfö

Where to watch Chelsea vs Wolfsburg?

For the first leg Chelsea will ‘host’ the German Wolves with the reversed leg played a week later. The first leg kicks off at 16:00 UK time and will be broadcasted on several platforms around the world where BT Sport is your place to go in the UK. 

The game will also be streamed live on Chelsea website and the 5th Stand app. Geo-restrictions apply and it can not be viewed on the platforms mentioned above in the UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Mexico, Portugal, Sweden, Norway and Australia.

Wolfsburg will stream the game at their YouTube Channel Wölfe TV, while the German channel Sport1 also streams the action on their website. 

In Norway your place to go to is VG Live and in Sweden it’ll be on Sportbladet Play.

COYB!

Written by Mia Eriksson (@mia_eriksson)

Edited by Rob Pratley

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