EMMA HAYES shared the joy of seeing AC Milan as a child ahead of the Chelsea Women’s Champions League clash against Juventus.
And the blues boss, half of whom is Italian, is looking forward to her team’s test against a team coached by ex-Gunners boss Joe Montemurro.
Commenting on her admiration for the Italian game, 44-year-old Hayes said, “I think Italian teams are notorious for having an incredible understanding of what it takes to win games.
“I have an Italian father and I have great respect for Italian football.
“I grew up with AC Milan in my house and watched the group in the late 80s and 90s [Franco] Bari, [Mauro] Tassotti, [Paolo] Maldini and [Marco] Van Basten. Italy is home to a brilliant defense. “
The WSL champions meet a form-strong Juventus team, which is currently second behind Sassuolo in Italy’s top division.
They won their first six games in the Serie A Women’s Division.
Chelsea, who picked up a point after a thrilling 3-3 draw with Wolfsburg, are looking to take their first win in the new group stage of the competition at the Juventus Stadium
The Montemurro players are currently at the top of the group after beating Swiss club Servette 3-0, the Blues are in third place.
Hayes added: “Juventus is a team that I have watched over the past few years.
“I was very interested as Eni [Aluko] played there and followed the team when Eni joined Eni and watched their importance in Italian football grow.
“With Joe’s experience, I know they have a coach who works with top players.
“It will be just as difficult a task as the one against Wolfsburg.”
Montemurro’s Juve aces have set a new Serie A women’s record with 30 wins in a row in the division.
The Turin team comes into this game after a 2-0 win over Napoli in the Italian top division.
But in Europe, Montemuro, who left Arsenal at the end of last season, see Chelsea and Barcelona as benchmarks for clubs to measure against.
The 52-year-old told BBC Sport: “Chelsea is one of the best organizations in world football, both men’s and women’s, and their spending is way beyond what we can imagine.
“The players they have are world class and they play in a tough league.
“We want to stand on this stage and compete against the best. The more we can have these moments and experiences, the better we will be.”
Chelsea’s trip to Juventus Stadium comes days after five members of the club’s squad were shortlisted for this year’s Women’s Ballon d’Or Awards.
Fran Kirby, Jessie Fleming, Magda Eriksson, Pernille Harder and Sam Kerr are among the seven WSL stars fighting for the award.
Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema and Manchester City’s Ellen White are the other names of England’s top clubs on the shortlist.
Hayes said: “I am so proud that our team has produced more Ballon d’Or candidates than any other team.
“They are brilliant women who are exemplary in their work, and I am delighted that they are recognized and nominated for it.”