The Primera Iberdrola rolled on this weekend and as the league (and national team) continue to grow, so does the media attention each game receives. So far, we have seen three rounds in the league and despite it being so early in the season, FC Barcelona Femení are making winning look easy. This past weekend, they welcomed Atlético Madrid Femenino and despite the current battle between BarcaTV and Mediapro, fans both in Spain and abroad were able to witness an absolute demolishing, again, at the hands of FC Barcelona.
Atletico Madrid have been champions in Spain for the last four seasons in a row, and last season, pipped Barcelona to the title with a few matches left in the season. This season however, Barcelona have started off with an intention to make sure that they will be crowned champions this season and emphasised that goal with a 6-1 win over Atletico this past weekend. Both teams came into this one unbeaten, having won both of their first two matches in the season and although we are only in September, this result could be a huge indicator of how the title race could shape up this time around.
Despite an early goal by Atletico which saw Amanda Sampedro finish neatly off of Kenti Robles’ cross into the penalty area, it was all one way traffic as Barcelona dominated proceedings almost from the first whistle. The hosts were relentless and pressured Atletico into making more errors than usual which allowed Barcelona to then transition quickly into attack and finish ruthlessly in front of goal. Nothing exemplified that more than Barcelona’s new signing, Asisat Oshoala. Oshoala’s pace, tenacity and skill on the ball allowed Barcelona a focal point for their attack who could also in turn, play her teammates in on goal. Oshoala troubled the Atletico backline all game long and Aïssatou Tounkara, in particular, had a terrible time copying with the Nigerian forward. Their first entanglement led to Barcelona’s equaliser in the eighth minute as Tounkara inadvertently handled the ball while trying to stop Oshoala from going past her. Jennifer Hermoso then slotted the penalty coolly, sending Lola Gallardo the wrong way. Oshoala was at the centre of everything that went right for Barcelona and there was plenty of that. She also found the back of the net twice as they rolled over Atletico in a manner that hadn’t been seen in the Primera Iberdrola for a long, long time.
Oshoala needed a few months to adjust to her new team after arriving in January from Chinese club Dalian Quanjian F.C., featuring only seven times for Barcelona last season. Now with a full pre season with her teammates behind her, we could see the Nigerian find a new level in her game. Oshoala has always been a gifted player, shining with Liverpool F.C. Women and Arsenal W.F.C. before moving to China, but her final product has prevented her from being a truly great player in the women’s game. After just three matches with Barcelona, that statement may need revision as it seems that Oshoala has found a club that will aid her in stepping up a gear and growing into the player many touted her to be during her time in England.
Oshoala was not the only Barcelona player in form on Saturday as their front line is almost unfairly stacked. Caroline Graham Hansen, who is in scintillating form right now, was key in Barcelona’s second goal and Hermoso’s set piece ability led to the third. Barcelona have an enviable front line and those behind them provide the perfect platform for those forwards to be at their very best. If they continue in this form, not only will a league title be within reach but that Champions League trophy that eluded them last season could be well within their capabilities now as well.
Tounkara’s performance certainly did not help Atletico’s cause as her part that led to a penalty earned her a yellow card and she got her marching orders in the 60th minute for fouling Hermoso as Barcelona broke forward once again. She wasn’t the only Atletico player well below par however, Gallardo was guilty for not having great positioning on multiple goals and the Atletico midfield was outplayed by Barcelona. The entire Atletico back line from goalkeeper up were abysmal and being accountable for two own goals showed just how poorly they faired against Barcelona this past weekend. Pre season matches are never a great indicator of how a team will do over the course of a season but this performance was coming as far as Atletico was concerned. Against better teams, especially at the Women’s International Champions Cup, their defense was exposed often and Gallardo was found wanting on more than one occasion. The Atletico goalkeeper has been at the club since she was a child but if her performances continue to be this concerning against the very best sides, a new arrival in Sari van Veenendaal may force manager José Luis Sánchez into having to make an uncomfortable decision.
With both teams off to play second-leg matches in the UEFA Women’s Champions League, there’s a chance to turn the page after this performance. Lluís Cortés’ Barcelona will be up against Juventus F.C. Women while Atletico will be up against ŽFK Spartak Subotica. Barcelona should take care of business, especially in the form their in but Atletico were not that impressive in the first leg against Spartak and after this weekend, will know that they need to be much, much better as October comes in to view.
Elsewhere in Spain…
- After seemingly finding their feet last time out, CD Tacón then turned around and put in a shocking performance against EdF Logroño. Going forward, Tacón have the players to do some damage as evidenced by their goals over the first three matches of the season but they are shambolic in defense. Logroño found their way to goal too easily and Barbra Banda in particular found a lot of joy against a hapless Tacón back line as the hosts picked up a 5-1 win over the visitors. Bringing in Babbett Peter from VfL Wolfsburg Frauen will certainly help the Tacón defense but once again, the key word for Tacón fans this season will be patience. A new team will not gel immediately and it will take some time for any deficiencies to be addressed.
- RCD Espanyol Femenino have not started this season well. With three matches now in the books, they sit bottom of the Primera Iberdrola having only scored two goals so far this season. Their 2-1 loss against Madrid CFF this weekend showed that not only are they struggling for goals but they also cannot stop other teams from scoring. Without some kind of changes over the next month or so, Espanyol will find themselves slipping into the second division with barely a whimper.
- Valencia CF Femenino continue to impress as they won a hard fought battle against Athletic Club Femenino. Carol Férez has started her season well, scoring in the 2-0 win over Athletic and providing an assist for the second goal of the game to Zenatha Coleman late in the game. Valencia finished in eighth last season and will look to maintain their position in the first division once again this season. Two wins in three to start the season will certainly aid their cause.