Chelsea Women can recharge after opening up comfortable lead in Champions League group

The juggernaut that is Chelsea Women just keeps battering through all opposition, and now is the time to take a breather.

The Blues take a week off as the rest of the women’s game enters FA Cup second round and League Cup mode this weekend.

Chelsea, who are in the Champions League, are exempt from these rounds. Their 2-0 defeat of Real Madrid on Wednesday night has opened up a healthy five-point lead at the top of Group A.

They play the return fixture in Spain on December 8, where a win would almost certainly secure the top spot. They then face an away match at Albanian outfit Vllaznia before entertaining Paris Saint-Germain at Stamford Bridge on December 22 in the final group fixture.

Second-half strikes from Sophie Ingle and Erin Cuthbert, right, gave the Blues the win they needed against a dour but disciplined young Los Blancos side.

Chelsea’s head coach Emma Hayes, taking charge of her first match at Kingsmeadow after her emergency hysterectomy following a lengthy struggle with endometriosis, said: “This team is on another level.

“This is the best squad we’ve ever had. I think that learning from previous years and learning from losing in the final against Barcelona in 2021 helped. A couple of years ago we’d have got impatient, especially in the first half.

“It was a calm dressing room at half-time. When these two teams are so relatively matched, I’m starting to see the importance of our experience.

We certainly play better European football, we’re becoming more accustomed to it.”.

Hayes was full of praise for goalscorers Ingle and Cuthbert.

Wales midfielder Ingle has taken the chance left vacant by the departing Ji and the absence due to maternal leave of German international Melanie Leupolz.

She was out of the side for much of last year. Hayes was happy that Ingle had put in the work on the training ground and improved her fitness, allowing her to be competitive and deserving of a starting place in the side.

Cuthbert has scored in the Blues’ last three matches.

Hayes said: “She was outstanding.

I don’t think there was a blade of grass she didn’t cover. There was a tenacity to her performance that we’ve all come to expect.”

Chelsea return to league action on December 3 when they play at Leicester City, who are bottom of the WSL.

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