Claire Emslie says there is ‘no better feeling’ than stepping out under the floodlights on a European night with City.
The Blues are back in Champions League action, after a four-month break, hosting Swedish outfit Linkoping in the first of a two-legged quarter-final tie on Wednesday night.
The speedy winger, who joined the Blues in summer, helped the Blues to the last eight stage with appearances in all four games in the previous rounds, and netted her first goal in the competition in the 5-0 triumph at LSK Kvinner.
Overwhelmed with emotion, having achieved a lifelong ambition, the Scotland international shed a tear in celebration and hopes to create more unforgettable memories with Nick Cushing’s side.
“For me, my dream was always to play in the Champions League,” Emslie declared. “There’s no better feeling.
“We know it’s a big game on Wednesday night – an important game – but these are the types of games you want to play in.
“Playing in the Champions League is great and we’re really looking forward to it.”
Scandinavian outfit Linkoping have dominated the Swedish top division for several years but are yet to advance from the Champions League quarter-final stage. On Saturday, they reached the final of their domestic cup, thanks to goals from former Blue Kosovare Asllani and new signing – ex-Liverpool star Natasha Dowie.
Emslie hailed the quality of the opposition but asserted Cushing’s side have conducted thorough research in a bid to determine our best chance of progression.
“We’ve done our homework on them,” she added. “They’re a really good team and they’ve dominated Swedish football for a while.
“They’re tough opponents but we’ve prepared as much as we can – as we would for any other game.
“We’re concentrating on doing the basics right and performing on the night.”
The attacker also spoke of the importance of first leg home advantage, which City discovered last season, as the Blues reached the semi-finals at the first attempt.
“We want to go one better than we did last year,” she stated. “It’s over two legs so we’re hoping to get the best start.
“It’s nice to have a home game – it feels like we’ve played away for ten games in a row!
“Travel is hard when you’re on the bus for so many hours, spending every weekend away, but it’s part of football and it’s our job. We have to deal with it, get on the pitch and play well regardless.
“We’re excited to play at home. We have great fans and we love having them.”
After a challenging period of fixtures, which heralded an uncharacteristic dip in form, Monday brought promise of new hope with the FA Cup semi-final draw, which will see Cushing’s side travel to Chelsea, should we progress with quarter-final victory at Sunderland.
Emslie believes her side have found renewed optimism with three trophies still attainable.
“We’ve had to deal with a few bad results recently,” she admitted, “but we’ve got so much left to play for.
“We were disappointed with the Continental Tyres Cup Final defeat but we can only put it to bed and focus on the next game.
“I was gutted that the Sunderland game was postponed as we just wanted to get back out in the pitch. If we win the rearranged fixture, we’ll have another away game at Chelsea but we won there in the Conti Cup semi. We need to beat Sunderland first though – we’re not through by any means.
“The excitement for the Champions League has built up now – that’s what we’re looking forward to, first of all.”
Tickets for City's home leg quarter-final tie with Linkoping (Wednesday 21 March, 7pm) are on sale and are available to buy online via tickets.mancity.com or at the Etihad Stadium Ticket Office.