This year there was no surprise either. What appeared in all the pools happened. Women’s Barcelona has been proclaimed champion of the Women’s League for the eighth time and when there were still four games to play. She achieved this after beating Sporting de Huelva 3-0 at the Johan Cruyff on the day Alexia Putellas felt like a footballer again, more than nine months after breaking and undergoing surgery on her left knee. She played 20 minutes and left details for the delirium of the stands. Shortly after, the two-time Ballon d’Or winner, emotional and blanketed, would lift the League Champions trophy in the rain.
Cata Coll, Laia Codina, Jana Fernández, Emma Ramírez, Nuria Rábano, Ingrid Engen, Bruna Vilamala, Clàudia Pina, Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic, Geyse Ferreira and Salma Paralluelo
Zala Mersnik, Patri Ojeda, Raiderlin Carrasco, Laia Ballesté, Ana Carol, Paula Romero, Athena Kühn, Sofia Hagman, Patrícia Hmírová, Sandra Castelló and Berglind Ágústsdóttir
goals 1-0 min. 38: Laia Codina. 2-0 min. 62: Jana Fernandez. 3-0 min. 89: Asisat Oshoala.
Referee Alicia Espinosa Rios
Yellow cards Jana Fernández (min. 33)
The Catalans win the domestic title for the fourth consecutive year, thus equaling their own record from a few years ago (from 2012 to 2015). Although that Barça has little to do with the current one. Today’s team has a European champion squad in 2021 and qualified for the final of the current edition; They are also runners-up in Europe in 2022 and 2019. In addition to having the best player in the world for the second consecutive year, Alexia Putellas, to which is added a line of internationally recognized players such as Mapi León, Aitana Bonmatí, Lucy Bronze or Keira Walsh.
However, it has not been as easy as it seems because the Catalan team has not been able to have Putellas, its most relevant and influential player on and off the field, throughout the season. In July of last year, one day before the start of the Eurocup, the Catalan ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee and said goodbye to the European national team championship and practically to the rest of the following season. A blow for Jonatan Giráldez, who would have to prepare his second season on the blaugrana bench with the aim of recovering the European throne and the obligation to win the League without the best player in the world, who had just scored 40 goals and 18 assists during the course former. “Alexia’s injury was a setback because the squad in July was already closed and we had to go to the market. With all the influence she had, the team’s ecosystem changed and other players had to take on more prominence”, they confirm from the club.
Added to this loss was the departure of two attackers with a lot of weight in the squad, Jennifer Hermoso and Lieke Martens. The Spanish scored 23 goals and 6 assists in her last year while the Dutch scored 23 goals and 17 assists. Both added 21.6% of all the goals of the squad. “Between Alexia’s injury and the departure of Hermoso and Martens, we suddenly lost 80 goals,” say the same Barça sources.
But not everything would be bad news at Can Barça. The historic season last where they became League champions, winning all their games (30 wins in 30 days) and their two attendance records at the Camp Nou (91,648 against Wolsburgo and 91,553 against Madrid) caught the attention of two great players. like Lucy Bronze and Keira Walsh, both from Manchester City. The latter came urgently due to the loss of Alexia Putellas and became the most expensive signing in the history of women’s football: 400,000 euros. Salma Paralluelo also arrived from Villarreal. The extreme left shared her passion for soccer with a love for athletics, but her arrival at Barcelona made her lean exclusively on soccer.
If the current Barça was different from that of a decade ago, the same has happened with the Women’s League. After multiple formats and names, on June 15, 2021, the Higher Sports Council (CSD) proclaimed the first division of women’s soccer as a professional, this 2022/2023 season being the first of the Professional Women’s Soccer League. During this year, work was done on the commercialization of television rights or on aid to clubs to improve their infrastructures, as well as on the preparation of statutes where the guarantee of a minimum annual salary of 16,000 euros for each player is included. This economic and sporting injection augured greater equality in the first professional season of the League, with a Real Madrid team that had been betting on women’s football for three years and wanted to take the definitive leap by fighting for the league title.
And at first he succeeded, he was able to keep up with the initial rhythm of a Barça that kept winning but no longer crushed its rivals as usual since the new pieces had to be fitted and the rest of the teams were gaining momentum. This meant that the Barça-Madrid rivalry was also transferred to women’s football, accentuated by the controversial decision of 15 o’clock to temporarily resign from the Spanish women’s team. The Catalans Mapi León, Aitana Bonmatí, Sandra Paños, Marta Torrejón, Mariona Caldentey, Patri Guijarro and Claudia Pina were on the list, but no Real Madrid player was found.
This scenario produced great tension in the first clásico of the season in November, where if Madrid won they would take the lead. “For the players it was a very special game because of everything that surrounded that match, to the sporting equality of the moment everything that happened in the previous weeks with the theme of the selection was added,” they say from the Catalan club. However, Barça showed that they had no rival in the national competition: they won 0-4 and trailed by five points.
From then on, Jonatan Giráldez’s team picked up cruising speed with Aitana Bonmatí as team leader, who together with Patri Guijarro and Keira Walsh would be the foundations of the midfield with a fast and effective offensive trident with Oshoala, Paralluelo and Hansen (the three have scored 38 of the 108 goals for the squad, 35% of the total) and a defense led by Irene Paredes, Mapi León and Lucy Bronze that has made it easier for goalkeeper Sandra Paños. Which has meant that Barça maintains the record for consecutive victories in the League in 61 games (their last defeat in this competition was in June 2021, 4-3 against Atlético de Madrid) and becomes the champion of the first League female professional with only five goals conceded and 108 in favor, with a difference of 13 points compared to second place, Real Madrid. “We attach great importance to what we are doing. The investment that all the teams are making in recent years is evident and there are more and more attractive matches in the League. We have won them all, yes, but they have cost us some”, coach Giráldez assured in the preview.
“We are a Barça that goes for everything, that gets up every day with the intention of improving its individual version, of all the players. On a collective level, the same. I am very proud to be able to train all of them. Now we have a pending appointment, we want to bring the Champions League home ”, he added.
Despite the fact that it was a difficult season to manage, due to the serious injury of Alexia Putellas, the comings and goings of the squad and the increase in the level of the competition, Barça has once again shown that it continues to be the greatest exponent of football Spanish female and who wants to be so again in Europe for the second time in its history. Alexia Putellas warns: “We have one last objective left”. The final of the Champions League, in the peephole.
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