Tactical Insights

Our job to end Hayes’ legacy without UWCL title – Barcelona boss

Barcelona coach Jonatan Giráldez has set his sights on ending Chelsea counterpart Emma Hayes’ bid for a first Champions League title when the pair meet in the tournament’s semifinals next month..

Barça made the final four for a sixth straight season after beating Brann 3-1 on Thursday to secure a 5-2 aggregate win and set up a repeat of last year’s semifinal against English champions Chelsea.

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Hayes will leave Chelsea at the end of the season to take over the United States women’s national team and is aiming to go out by winning the Champions League, the one trophy which has eluded her since she was appointed in 2012.

“Emma’s legacy is in what she has done at Chelsea and the growth [at the club] over more than 10 years,” Giráldez told a news conference.

“She has done a magnificent job at the club. The next [manager] will have bar set very high because she has done amazing things.

“She will hope to go out with a Champions League [trophy], but we are here to try and make sure that doesn’t happen and to bring it home, which is our objective.”

Hayes has won six Women’s Super Leagues and five FA Cups as Chelsea coach, but the closest she came to winning the competition was a 2021 final defeat against Barça.

The Catalan side also ended Chelsea’s hopes in the competition last year, winning 2-1 on aggregate in the semifinal before going on to win the trophy for the second time in four years.

In contrast to last season, Chelsea will have home advantage at Stamford Bridge in the return game this time, with the first leg due to be played at Barça’s Olympic Stadium.

“It will be a very even tie,” Giráldez added. “Chelsea are a great side and the club have invested in the women’s game in recent years — and it shows.

“They’ve done well in the Champions League and are in great form, but so are we. I would have preferred to have the second leg at home, but it’s not something we can control.”

Barça and Chelsea both remain on track for a quadruple this season, although a summer of change could be coming at both clubs, with Giráldez, like Hayes, also U.S.-bound.

He will take over Washington Spirit at the end of the season, while several key Barça players are also out of contract when the term ends, including two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas.

There has been a lot of speculation about her future in recent weeks, but she insisted her dream is to extend her stay at Barça after the Brann win.

“All I can say is that everyone knows what Barça means to me,” she told reporters. “This is my dream club. I don’t think there is much more to say.

“I am committed to the team, the project and I don’t think it’s necessary to add to that.”

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