Sports 17/05/2021

A historic display to reign in Europe (0-4)

Barça lifts its first Champions League after a perfect first half against Chelsea (0-4)

4 min
Barcelona FC Women's Champions Cup
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There were 10 minutes to go in the final and the Barça players, on the bench, were already changing into their blue and red jerseys. Like Cruyff's players in 1992 at Wembley, Lluís Cortés's players wanted to lif the club's first women's Champions League dressed in their colours. On a historic night, which will be remembered for years to come as it will inspire generations, Barça overwhelmed their opponents. They had a chance to make history, and it did not go to waste. With exquisite football, Barça steamrolled Chelsea (0-4), winning their first Champions League title in a match which was very similar to the last final they played. In this case, however, Barça went from victims to executioners.

The atmosphere at Gamla Ullevi stadium in Göteborg was tense. For the past two years, Barça has ben working to get to another final and a day of reckoning. The painful defeat against Olympique Lyon is still in players' and staff's memories. Göteborg was the stage to show that everything had changed and the hard work and sacrifices had to pay off. Ninety minutes of history were about to begin. A team, a family, had come together after two years to change their destiny. With the opening whistle, desire drove Barça straight to Ann-Katrin Berger's goal and within 37 seconds, they had scored. Lieke Martens sent a powerful shot against the crossbar that was deflected into the Chelsea box. Kirby tried to clear the ball, but it ricocheted off Leupolz and went into the net. The team were already ahead and Cortes's side were hugging each other on the pitch and by the bench. The staff looked at each other aware that this had only just begun.

The superiority of the Catalan team was overwhelming. Without giving up any spaces and fighting over every possession, Barça showed from the first moments why they are the best team in Europe. Jenni Hermoso and Aitana had chances to score a second, until Leupolz stepped on Hermoso inside the box and referee Riem Hussein, after checking VAR, signalled a penalty. Alexia made no mistake. From the spot, the Barça captain took the shot with precision and rage. After almost missing the final due to discomfort in her left thigh, the player from Mollet knew she could not miss. She celebrated the goal with the same passion which drew her into the game as a child, from the stands of the Camp Nou.

It was not easy to make it to the final and Cortés's team was not going to take its foot of the accelerator. Under suffocating pressure, Emma Hayes's team did not know how to react. Without ever having the ball, they tried to wake up from the nightmare to which they were being subjected, but to no avail: in a new collective play, Aitana increased the lead. Jenni Hermoso won the ball back inside the box moments before sending it to Alexia, who set up Aitana. With a subtle, masterful touch, the Barça player got past the defender and shot the ball beyond the goalie's reach. It was 3-0

Champion's ambition

The roles have changed completely. In the final in Budapest two years ago, Olympique Lyon were 3-0 up on Barça after 20 minutes. Now, it was Barça who had the upper hand in the match, and they held the same lead. On that occasion, the fourth goal came a minute before the half-time whistle. In Göteborg, ten minutes before. Lieke Martens, lethal on the left flank, crossed a ball to Caroline Graham Hansen, who delicately slotted the ball into the net. The euphoria was overwhelming. The screams of the staff and the celebration of Cortes filled 18000-seat stadium. There were still 45 minutes left.

In the second half, Emma Hayes changed tactics. More aggressive and penetrating, the English players took the ball and Barça had to suffer. Mapi Leon, however, frustrated their plans. Cornered in their area and without control of the ball, Cortés's side kept their composure. With very few chances between the posts, Sandra Paños had to come on as the Catalans were winning the game inch by inch. After fifteen minutes, the rain, both expected and feared, made an appearance at Gamla Ullevi.

Barça took back control of the game while Cortes continued giving orders from the tiny technical area enabled in the Swedish stadium. Talking to his staff from a distance, it was time to make moves. With Oshoala and Losada on the pitch, Hermoso and Alexia made their way to the bench. The Catalan, after climbing the steps to the stands where the technical team was, hugged the team trainer, with whom she had been working to control her discomfort.

In the final fifteen minutes, the Barça was back in Chelsea's box, either through free kicks, long plays or counterattacks. It didn't matter how, but Cortés' team was not slowing down. At the last moment Oshoala could have rounded off the score, but the referee blew for offside.

The Barça bench was all standing for the last minutes, chanting and shouting encouragement at their team. With the final whistle, euphoria was unleashed. Hugs, shouts and cries between the staff and the players. They can say it out loud and clear: they are European champions. Against everything and everyone. Thanks to their effort and their good game they have overcome every rival on their way to the top. Barça has become the first club in which both the men and women's team have lifted the European trophy. They have made history, and this is only the beginning.

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