In a dazzling response to their debut Champions League final drubbing by Lyon in 2019, Barcelona romped to victory against a stunned Chelsea, writes Martin Whiteley.
For the first time ever the Women’s Champions League trophy will be heading to Spain after Barcelona smashed Chelsea 4-0.
After just 30 seconds, Barca went ahead when a Fran Kirby clearance struck Melanie Leupolz and looped over goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger.
A penalty converted by Alexia Putellas doubled the Spanish side’s lead after 14 minutes. Aitana Bonmati gave the Catalans a third just seven minutes later.
Barca were now in full flow, the ball pinged around like a pinball game played on fast-forward.
The final goal perfectly illustrated their dominance. The ball was played out to the left where Lieke Martens shrugged off the attention of Niamh Charles, who had been pressed into service at right-back. The Netherlands international cut the ball back for right-sided player Caroline Graham Hansen to beat Jess Carter to a spot in the six-yard box to tap home.Embed from Getty Images
That performance resulted in the ‘game over’ sign flashing brightly – and cruelly, for Chelsea – with just 36 minutes on the clock.
After the disappointment felt two years ago when Barcelona lost 4-1 to Lyon, this time around there was nothing but elation for them.
Worryingly for all the other sides hoping to taste European glory in the near future, this Barca squad will harbour hopes of not stopping at just one Champions League success.
Back in January, Graham Hansen and Patri Guijarro extended their stays at the club until 2023 and 2024, respectively. Goalkeeper Sandra Paños also recently signed a contract extension until 2024.
Add to this a list that includes Martens, Putellas, and María León that are all contracted to the Catalan side for next season.
Off the field, coach Lluís Cortés has put pen to paper on a new one-year deal, with an option for a second. He first worked as an analyst when he joined the club ahead of the 2017-18 season, before taking the top job two years later. Since then he has turned Barca into one of the true powerhouses in the women’s game.
But as the saying goes, if you stand still, you go backward. Even the top sides need the odd addition to bolster their squads.
The style that Barca plays requires a certain type of player. Pace, good passing, and being very comfortable on the ball are what the players that come through the club’s ranks consistently have instilled in them. That certainly helps makes for a seamless transition into securing a first-team spot.
With a Champions League title now in the trophy cabinet, Barca will not struggle to attract players across the global women’s game to come and join what is tonight a very happy party.
Domination like Lyon have recently enjoyed only proves worthwhile if others move on and better what they have achieved. With the resources available to the leading Spanish side, they have a perfect opportunity to not only lift the domestic league to a new level but also take the baton from the French and German sides on the European front.
Follow Martin on Twitter at @673martin