Chelsea boss Emma Hayes says it is disappointing her side’s Women’s Champions League semi-final clash with Bayern Munich is not a test event for spectators at grounds.
In recent weeks one of the semi-finals of the men’s FA Cup and the Carabao Cup final have been used as Government pilots testing crowds being at sporting events again as coronavirus restrictions ease.
Chelsea face Bayern at Kingsmeadow on Sunday in the second leg of the last-four tie, trailing 2-1 from last week’s first leg in Germany.
“It’s disappointing. It would have been great to have the fans there. But I understand it’s Covid and it’s not to be.
“But they are with us, that is the big thing. We know we’ve had to play an entire season without our fans and we know how amazing our fans are.
“I promise I’ll be every one of them on Sunday and hopefully this is the last time that we’ll be without them, and next season they’ll be back. It’s sad, but it’s just not to be.”
And she has emphasised the trust she has in her players as Chelsea, beaten semi-finalists in 2018 and 2019, look to reach the final of the competition for the first time.
She said: “We didn’t play poorly last week, we just didn’t do well in the finishing phase and gave away two sloppy goals. We just have to keep doing what has got us to this point.
“I think the realities are if we’re going to progress, we’re probably going to have to score more than one goal. So there’s focus on us doing what we’ve done so well this season in going forward, eliminate the errors, because ultimately both of their goals I thought came from poor defensive mistakes.
“You have to be conscious of how switched on you’ve got to be. That’s what my message will be to the team – don’t relent, stay switched on to the task.
“We’re going to take the game to Bayern Munich. We’re home and I think we’ve got to trust in the beliefs that we’re in the position because we deserve to be here, but if you want to go to the next level you have to produce something you didn’t produce before.
“It has to be better than it was and that’s what I have to look at from last weekend. I want an inspired performance from the team but I’m accustomed to getting that from them, so I trust them.”
Hayes also said skipper Magda Eriksson was “improving” in terms of the knock that kept her out last weekend.
Regarding preparations, Hayes said: “I’m going to make sure everyone in this environment behaves exactly the same way they behave every day, because anything else means you’re preparing for an occasion. Well, no-one’s getting married and it’s a game of football, it’s our job to do what we do.
“It doesn’t matter if this is Bristol this week or Bayern Munich – we will prepare in exactly the same way.”
Chelsea won the Continental League Cup in February and are top of the Women’s Super League.
Asked about a possible quadruple, she said: “I’m sure it would be an immense achievement for any team to do it, but I am far too wise to engage in the conversation in anything other than the cup of tea I’m about to drink.”