Barcelona Femení qualified for the semifinals of the Women’s Champions League after defeating Atlético Madrid Femenino 1-0 in the quarterfinals at San Mamés stadium thanks to the goal from Kheila Hamraoui in the 80th minute of the game.
In this editorial review, our top editors will review the team’s performance against Atlético Madrid.
A Classic dual between two Spanish Giants
Barcelona Femení faced a familiar rival; however, they were taken back by their new game style. A usual match between these two Spanish sides is far different from what we saw at UWCL quarterfinals. Atletico’s attack was nearly non-existent, with a 5-4-1 formation, they suffocated Barca by defending with every-body on the pitch. However, Barca didn’t do themselves any favour. The deadly four attackers fell short on their debut, an uncharacteristically below-average performance from Caroline Graham Hansen and Asisat Oshaoala’s poor finishing was an unexpected gift for Atleti. The team lacked fluidity and cohesion, though, it should be taken into consideration that they haven’t played a professional match in six months, facing their domestic rivals in a historic European quarterfinals tie didn’t help calm their nerves either.
Cortes’ lineup showed his intention, he wanted a fast-paced game, but the absence of Patri Guijarro didn’t go unnoticed because it was clear that the game needed some control. The winner came from Kheira Hamraoui who wasn’t having the best game by any means, but in her typical fashion she showed up when the team needed her the most. Overall, Barcelona Femení had an average game, but the team showed a winner’s mentality, which is something to be noted.
Tooba’s player of the Match: There wasn’t any individual standout performance. However, Mariona Caldentey’s substitution changed the tempo of the game. The everso enthusiastic attacker was everywhere on the pitch and she evidently for the better, changed Barca’s game style. Besides her, the backline wasn’t challenged; they comfortably did well. Lieke Martens had a decent first half, Alexia Putellas did just about enough, and Jenni Hermoso adapted to her role quite well.
Another step towards European Glory
FC Barcelona Femeni started as clear favourites of the tie, fresh from winning their fifth league title after they finished at the top of the table ahead of Atletico Madrid. The quarterfinal was the first professional match for both the sides since March. The first half was rather lacklustre with a few chances coming both the ways, Barcelona had a few clear chances, but the defence of Madrid was solid, and they stood firm in the first half.
The second half was a bit better, with more chances for the Catalan team. Oshoala had two good chances about 10 minutes in but couldn’t capitalise it. The pressure really started building up by the 70th minute. After a few minutes of superb play by the team, especially some fantastic footwork by Mariona Caldentey, the ball was played to Graham Hansen on the right, she sent it to Asisat Oshoala who tried to score with a bicycle kick, but the moment of magic then came from Hamraoui who scored with 10 minutes to go on the rebound. Hamraoui and Hermoso had a few more chances in the last minutes to kill off the game but Madrid’s goalkeeper Lindahl did a good job at the end. The interplay between Lieke Martens and Alexia Putellas was commendable.
Afreen’s player of the Match: Kheira Hamraoui. Even though there were several players who did a good job for the team, Hamraoui’s calm finish on the rebound was the key moment that took Barça to their third consecutive semifinals.
A win worth every sweat
Barça Femení breaks the Atletico web to book a spot in the semifinals of the Champions League. Barça was dominant throughout the match with 69% possession and 16 shots but disappointingly missed a couple of chances on the final third.
In the first half, Barcelona managed to put pressure on the Rojiblancos without rest, which meant that the whole match was played practically on the Atlético side. The Madrid coach has come up with five player-defence and with four in the midfield which gave very tight space for Barça to create havoc inside their box. Barcelona had possession and has also created opportunities, but it wasn’t enough in the battle to beat Daniel Gonzalez’s team, with evident ingenuity from both wings positioned by team’s star players, Lieke Martens and Caroline Graham.
In the second half, we saw Oshoala missing on a 1v1 and Alexia failing to score from Marta Torrejon’s brilliant cross. Later, another shot from Caroline Graham was brilliantly saved by Lindahl, as the match started to tense the atmosphere. However, Mariona’s entry into the field has rejuvenated the Barça attack. Finally, with 10 minutes to go by, Kheira Hamraoui broke the resistance of Atletico Madrid by taking advantage of a loose ball inside the area after a fine cross from the right-wing by Caroline Graham.
Arun’s player of the Match: Not the kind of performance I expected from the team, overall. Mariona’s introduction in the second half changed the match in favour of Barcelona Femení. But for the player of the match, I prefer to go with Jenni Hermoso who had a fair outing and did her role pretty well. Her filtering passes between lines was a delight to watch.
A match tougher than expected
With a depleted Atletico de Madrid, many expected a comfortable game for Barcelona Femení. Far from that, Barça had a hard time to connect, and they showed a game far from the level we are accustomed to. However, the entrance of Mariona for Lieke Martens in the 63rd minute improved Barça’s play and, as with Deportivo in Copa de la Reina, Kheira’s goal came to the rescue when some of us were already thinking about the extra 30 minutes. That goal opened the doors for a semifinal clash against a tough rival, Wolfsburg on Tuesday.
Laia’s player of the Match: Mariona Caldentey. She changed the entire dynamics of the match after her entry in the second half, and also had a hand in the crucial goal of the game.