Gareth Taylor has reminded his Manchester City players that fortune favours the brave as they endeavour to overturn a 3-0 first-leg deficit in their Women’s Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona on Wednesday.
“We’ve given ourselves an uphill task,” acknowledged City’s manager, who will be without two immensely influential England defenders in the injured Steph Houghton and Demi Stokes at the Academy Stadium. “But we’re confident we can achieve it. We’ll be going for it. When we looked at the stats from the first leg, they suggested it was close in terms of chances and expected goals – and we’ve proven we can score goals this season.”
Taylor’s problem is that the recently all-conquering Spanish champions have registered more than 100 goals of their own this term. “We know we need everything to go our way; we understand that,” he said. “We know we need to take our chances and not give chances away. We need to be tighter than in the first leg but we also need to be on the front foot from minute one and take the game to Barça. I don’t want the players to come off feeling we were cautious. We have to be brave.”
His optimism is shared by the USA midfielder Sam Mewis. “The first thing you need is to believe you can come back,” the World Cup winner said. “This group has that. It’s going to be hard and we’re really going to need everyone to be at their absolute best but I’m really optimistic. We are pumped and fired up – and we have what it takes to grind it out.”
Although containing an often seemingly irrepressible Barcelona side featuring the formidable talents of Nigeria’s former Liverpool and Arsenal forward Asisat Oshoala will hardly be straightforward, Taylor remains undaunted. “Barcelona are very good defensively but we caused them problems at the back, we wasted a number of good opportunities in the first leg,” said City’s manager, who saw Chloe Kelly have a penalty saved. “It’s within our capabilities to turn it round. I think we can reach the semi-finals. It’s achievable.”