David Aznar looked to start off the new season with his newly named Real Madrid Femenino side on a strong foot against rivals FC Barcelona Femení and hopefully show the improvement his side had made since their 9-1 loss against the same side last season. There was improvement but the dominance that Barcelona had over Real Madrid carried over into this season as well. The Catalans came away with a 4-0 win in the first ever #ElClasico in the Primera Iberdrola and ensured that they lived up to pre-season expectations.
With no fans in the stadium, there were less cheers or boos for either side but that did not stop the Barcelona bench from not only encouraging those on the pitch vociferously but also celebrating each goal as loudly as they could. At the heart of everything good that Barcelona did was superstar Alexia Putellas who, once again, showed her brilliance and capped off her performance with a goal.
For Real Madrid though, despite the scoreline, the biggest highlight of their performance was María Isabel Rodríguez aka ‘Misa’. She wasn’t helped by the tactics that Aznar employed in this match but she proved to be the difference between a 4-0 scoreline and a double digit one. Aznar also leaving Sofia Jakobsson on the bench and having Kenti Robles at left back instead of right back showed that he was trying to out-think Lluís Cortés and he failed in doing so. FC Barcelona are the cream of the Primera Iberdrola and there’s not much any of the other teams in the league will be able to do to stop them from presumably winning yet another Primera Iberdrola title. Aznar may have had the right ideas but he doesn’t have the quality (yet) to match Barcelona player for player in a 4-3-3. With more time and better players, we could see a swing in dominance but as of right now, Real Madrid are still lagging behind their rivals.
When the first whistle blew, Barcelona dominated possession but did not create as many chances as they would have liked, which all things considered, makes sense but they did find the breakthrough early on in this match. Some quick passes at the top of Real Madrid’s penalty area allowed Patricia Guijarro to take a shot on goal that deflected off of Babett Peter and away from Misa’s dive. One may have feared for Madrid after that opener but Misa was determined to make the scoreline respectable. She came out quickly to deny Marta Torrejón in the 22nd minute and in the 42nd minute, produced a strong-handed save to keep Aitana Bonmatí’s header out of goal. Real Madrid were penned back throughout most of that first half but Misa made sure that Guijarro’s goal was the only one that escaped her in the first half.
The second half however, was a different story. Barcelona’s high press began to reap dividends and Misa could not stop the rising tide coming towards her. She was unfortunate to see the second Barcelona bounce off of her in the 55th minute after managing to stop the initial effort from Caroline Graham Hansen and could not stop Like Martens volley in the 66th minute. The final nail in the coffin for Misa and her teammates was Putellas goal in the 75th minute which saw the Barcelona midfielder drift in late unmarked and finish off the far post. Despite the deluge of goals, Misa tried her best to keep as much as she could out but unfortunately, could not stop everything that came her way.
Barcelona were on top from the very first minute and more than deserved the 4-0 win. Every member of the team felt their way into the game while not giving Real Madrid a sniff and executed Cortés’ style of play to as perfect as it could be on opening day in their season. They will be very tough to beat this season and quite possibly could go the whole season unbeaten based on their performance today. After a performance like that, with the likes of Asisat Oshoala and Kheira Hamoraoui on the bench, who’s to say they won’t do exactly that?
- The closest challengers to Barcelona’s title chase this season, Atlético Madrid Femenino, started their season with a 2-0 win over RCD Espanyol Femenino. Venezuelan wonderkid Deyna Castellanos opened her account with a sweet finish into the corner in the 34th minute and Ludmila made sure of the result with her first of the season at the end of the first half. Espanyol really didn’t get into the game and Atleti saw out the second half with ease.
- The 2016 league champions Athletic Club Femenino also got off to a winning start as they needed a late goal by Leyre Monente to secure all three points. María Díaz got Athletic off to a good start with the first goal of the match in the 18th minute but Lady Andrade pulled Deportivo de La Coruña Femenino level again in the 50th minute. Athletic pushed for a winner and found it in the 81st minute when Monente found a way past a resolute Deportivo side and scored the winner.
- Last season’s surprise package, Levante UD Femenino, also got off to a winning start away against EdF Logroño. The hosts took the lead in the 42nd minute thanks to Olga García but Irene Guerrerro tied the game up in the 55th minute. Four minutes later, Esther González scored what proved to be the game-winner and helped Levante see out a difficult first game of the season.
- Valencia CF Femenino left it very, very late to find a winner against Sporting de Huelva but find it they did. The home side took the lead in extra time at the end of the first half through Danyelle Lima and managed to stay ahead until the 65th minute of the match. Beatriz Beltrán brought Valencia back into the match and when it looked like the game would end in a draw, Carla Bautista held her nerve to convert a 90th minute penalty for Valencia.
- Juliana Aparecida scored the only goal of the game between SD Eibar Femenino and Real Betis Féminas. Aparecida picked up her first of the season at the end of the first half and ensured that Eibar won their first home match of the season.
- The match between Madrid CFF and UDG Tenerife was also settled with a solitary goal but this time, it was the away team that managed to win all three points. Valeria Cantuario scored what proved to be the winner in the 42nd minute in a game that will not be remembered by many as entertaining. Madrid CFF won’t care though as they look to pick up points against teams around them to keep themselves in the first division for another season.
- The only draw of the first round of matches came at the El Vivero stadium. Santa Teresa CD hosted Sevilla FC Femenino and both sides could not find a winner despite pushing for one throughout the match. Clàudia Pina converted from the spot in the 59th minute to give Sevilla the lead but it was short-lived as Ariadna Rovirola found a way past the Sevilla defense to tie the game.