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Erin Cuthbert still dreaming of first Champions League trophy with Chelsea

The Blues face Ajax at Amsterdam’s Johan Cruyff Arena on Tuesday night in the first of their two-leg last-eight encounter.


Chelsea forward Erin Cuthbert still finds herself dreaming of a first Champions League trophy despite boss Emma Hayes’ firm reality-rooted approach to the competition.

The Blues, who face Ajax at Amsterdam’s Johan Cruyff Arena on Tuesday night in the first of their two-leg last-eight encounter, remain on course to become just the second English side to complete a quadruple – with Arsenal Women having done so in 2007 – when Hayes was a member of the Gunners’ coaching staff.

The European club title is the one accolade that has so far eluded Hayes, who after winning 15 trophies in charge of Chelsea will depart at the end of the season to take up her new role as head coach of the United States women’s national team.

Cuthbert said: “It would mean everything to get to the final and to go on and win it. But you know, I’ve been at this club so long, it’s all about a process.

“I think we’re in the quarter-finals now and it’s two ties that lie ahead. Two tough games against a really tough team who have more than proved themselves at this level.

“So I think we’re under no illusions, it’s going to be a tough game tomorrow, but of course it’s hard not to dream a little bit.

“You are a football player, but at the same time I’ve been so well-drilled under Emma that it is very process-oriented.”

Chelsea drew a women's club record crowd to Stamford Bridge on Friday
Chelsea drew a women’s club record crowd to Stamford Bridge on Friday (Nigel French/PA)

Chelsea have reached a Champions League semi-final four times in their history, coming closest to the title in 2021, when Cuthbert came on as a second-half substitute in the Blues’ 4-0 loss to Barcelona in the final.

They currently lead the Women’s Super League, level on 40 points but with a goal difference advantage over Manchester City and will play Arsenal in the Conti Cup final later this month before taking on Manchester United in April for a chance to defend their FA Cup title at Wembley the following month.

Ajax are just the second Dutch side to have reached a last eight after Saestum in 2006/07 and by Monday, had sold 34,200 tickets for Chelsea’s visit, putting the contest on course to be the best-attended women’s game Dutch history.

Hayes’ side know a thing or two about big crowds, having seen a Chelsea Women record 32,970 visitors at Stamford Bridge on Friday for their 3-1 WSL victory over Arsenal.

Cuthbert added: “It’s their first time at this point in the competition. We can certainly use our experience as an advantage, (but) I certainly know that if I was in the competition for the first time, I’d be playing without fear.

“We need to be wary of that as well. They’ve got nothing to lose and we’ve got everything to lose, so we’ll be giving it everything.”

The Champions League trophy has so far eluded Hayes
The Champions League trophy has so far eluded Hayes (Nigel French/PA)

Despite the lack of a Champions League trophy in her cabinet, Hayes brushed off the suggestion this competition might matter more, saying: “Every game means a lot to me. You can see that just in the league and having a record crowd at Stamford Bridge.

“I really don’t portion any more emotional response to one competition over the other.

“I would like to be part of a team that wins as much as possible, so I’m excited to be in this arena, I saw the quality out there, I’m looking forward to the atmosphere.”

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