Arsenal women head coach Jonas Eidevall is targeting Champions League glory with the Gunners, insisting his side are good enough to ‘have a chance against any team in the world’.
Arsenal return to the Champions League this season after former boss Joe Montemurro, now at Juventus, oversaw an exceptional run of form in the latter stages of the campaign to claim the WSL’s third and final European place for 2021/22.
The Gunners begin only their second Champions League season since 2014 this week with a first qualifying round tie against Kazakhstan’s Okzhetpes and the new boss is aiming high.
“I think it’s what attracts people to the club in one way, to compete for the biggest trophy there is at the top level. It’s one of the reasons I came to Arsenal: that I want to see if we can win the Champions League with this club,” Eidevall is quoted as saying by The Guardian.
The Swede, who took Rosengard to the quarter-finals of last season’s competition, is well aware of the fierce level of competition. On paper, Arsenal may only be the third best team in England, but Eidevall has no doubts about the quality of the squad he has inherited.
“Nobody would say we are out of a chance against any opponent in the Champions League,” he said.
“It’s not going to be easy, but we will have a chance against any team in the world and we are going to do our best to grab that chance in any given game.”
Aside from being more lucrative for its competing clubs than ever before, the biggest thing about the Champions League this season is the revamp of the format. Where previously it was a straight knockout tournament from start to finish, a group stage has now been adopted, more closely mirroring the format long seen in the men’s edition.
Eidevall called it a ‘very exciting time’ for the Champions League and former Chelsea and Juventus striker Eniola Aluko explained to 90min during an exclusive interview in May just why it is important.
“The group stage is an incredible advancement,” Aluko explained. “I remember in my first year at Juventus, they were asking for it then because it’s so hard. Owners invest to build teams to be ready for the Champions League and you’re out before you’ve even got in it.
“You want at least a bit more experience in the Champions League to be able to be ready. I think the group stage is going to be great for the game and for teams to gain more experience of the Champions League.
“You’ll have at least six games to know what it takes before you’re knocked out rather than just straight knockout. [In the old format] it’s like being in a boxing match and being knocked out before you’ve even got your gloves on. I think it’s really important.”