Chelsea boss Hayes details ‘major’ impact of COVID as Blues suffer shock UWCL group stage exit

Chelsea coach Emma Hayes believes that concern over the COVID-19 outbreak in England “played a big role” when the Blues crashed in the group stage of the Women’s Champions League on Thursday night.

Hayes’ team reached the final of the competition last season and topped their group heading into the final round of games, and Wolfsburg needed to beat them by two clear goals to qualify.

The German team were left with winners 4-0 at the end and, after the game, the Chelsea boss went into details about the impact that the recent increase in COVID cases has had on her team, with two players discarded for this match due to to positive tests. .

How was Chelsea affected by COVID?

In his post-match press conference, Hayes said: “First of all, congratulations to Wolfsburg. They deserved to pass. I think it’s important for me to say so.

“I am not making excuses for the players, but I can tell you that the last three days they have been all over the place with the concern that we have to play this game. While match congestion is one thing, COVID is real and when you’re in a team environment, you know it spreads like wildfire in a team.

“I am devastated. I am devastated by the players, because we all know that it was not by any means a team that represents my team. I have players who are sick there, they have diarrhea, they are exhausted,” and maybe some of that mental anxiety plays out. a role in it.

“But I feel like this was deja vu and we’re here again 12 months after a very, very bad COVID outbreak, at exactly the same time last year. I think that played a big part in our performance tonight.”

When asked if he thinks there should be a hiatus in the season, Hayes replied: “I’m definitely not on the fence. They don’t pay us millions of pounds. I want my players to go see their families.”

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t separate that anxiety from the performance. I didn’t recognize my players tonight. I thought we were all over the place. If we land tomorrow, do our PCR test and we’ll have a massive outbreak of COVID so what do you want me to do? say?

“We came out in the Champions League and I know we are absolutely devastated by that, but I can honestly tell you that I do not recognize my team tonight. I have never seen such a performance from them and the stress and anxiety.” it is real.

“While I wish they could have separated him to act, we weren’t even close to being in a position to win.”

What happened in the game?

Chelsea knew a draw would be enough to get through, but was tasked with traveling to face a Wolfsburg that needed to win. Svenja Huth put the hosts 2-0 up in 25 minutes, with the Blues defense, who had conceded just two goals in the last 11 games, all at sea.

Captain Magdalena Eriksson’s injury was yet another blow to the team and their defense, with Tabea Wassmuth able to score two goals in the second half to seal the victory.

“To be honest with you, the team didn’t carry out the game plan. We were 4-2-3-1, but we weren’t here,” Hayes said, waving his hand in front of his face.

“No matter how much information we tried to give, we were all over the place. We didn’t talk much about this from a performance perspective, but the internal battles that were going on individually … Have you ever seen so many people on this team perform so poorly? ? Actually, no, not often.

“It’s really, really tough times as a coach when you have so many players playing so badly, and they’re so disjointed and all over the place.”

Which teams are in the UWCL quarterfinals?

Along with Wolfsburg, Juventus sealed their Group A qualification by beating Servette after a goalless draw with Chelsea in London last week.

Reigning champions Barcelona remain the favorites to win the competition, with PSG, Lyon, Real Madrid, Arsenal and Bayern Munich also in the round of 16.

The quarterfinal draw will be held on Monday, December 20.