By James Randall
Chelsea built their double-winning side on a miserly defense, and Drew Spence admits they will have to be rock solid once again to see off two-time Champions League winners Wolfsburg.
The Blues lifted the FA Cup and Women’s Super League trophies this season, with an outstanding defensive record laying the foundations for such success.
Indeed, since returning from the World Cup break, Emma Hayes’ side have kept a remarkable ten clean sheets as their back four – marshalled by veteran goalkeeper and winter arrival Hedvig Lindahl – shut out plenty of potent sides.
Most recently they breezed through the Champions League round of 32 with a 4-0 aggregate win over Glasgow City – two more clean sheets under the belt.
That earned Chelsea a two-legged clash with Wolfsburg, who won the competition in 2013 and again in 2014, and midfielder Spence believes a shutout on home soil on Wednesday would be a huge step in the right direction.
“I think that’s what was key against Glasgow,” said the 23-year-old. “We kept a clean sheet and then went away and got most of the goals there. We need to keep a clean sheet in the first leg and we can take it from there.
“We leaked a lot of goals last year and that was probably why we lost the title. I think Emma has brought in the right people to make us win.
“Hedvig is a great addition to our side and she has brought that experience, not only from club level but also international level. It has been a massive welcome for her and she has been a great addition to our team.
“They are going to be a tough side. They have won it previously and they are obviously a German side, which is a massive step for us.
“We need to keep doing what we are doing. We are really excited to play a big team in Europe because you have got to beat the best to be the best. Hopefully we will go out there and put in a good performance.”
For Spence, who joined the club from Fulham as a teenager in 2008, this season could hardly have gone better.
She was part of the side that narrowly missed out on the WSL title last season and returned to go one better this time, as well as starting at Wembley as Chelsea beat Notts County to win the FA Cup.
And whether or not the Blues taste Champions League glory too, Spence has plenty to look forward to on the international stage after receiving her first England call-up last month – one of eight Chelsea players in the squad.
“It was a great occasion for me but also for my family,” she added. “It is something I have really been working towards. Now I have to keep going at club level to make sure I stick in the squad.
“It’s a great achievement for the club and I think it is more than deserved. With us winning the double, it needs to be recognised at international level and it was. It was great for everyone to be there and to welcome me with my team-mates there.”