After ten games in the Primera Iberdrola, there seems to be only one team destined for the title. FC Barcelona Femení have three games in hand over those in around them in the table and should they win those three matches (as they are expected to), they will be seven points clear at the top. However, a more interesting battle is happening just below them in the league. Six teams are in what seems to be an intriguing battle for second, and the final European place. More recently in the Primera Iberdrola, that position was occupied by either Barcelona themselves or Atlético de Madrid Femenino but as the Rojiblancas have failed to be as dominant as they have been in the past, others have risen to the task.
One of the teams looking to topple Atlético from a place in the top two is their El Derbi rivals, Real Madrid Femenino. Real are not the only ones pushing Atleti, UD Granadilla Tenerife, Madrid CFF, Levante UD Femenino and Real Sociedad Femenino are all picking up enough points each week to really put the pressure on Atlético. Their draw against Athletic Club Femenino last weekend has opened up a gap for the other five teams to exploit and exploit it they have.
On Saturday evening, Atleti came into Bilbao riding high after two straight wins and facing an Athletic side that had not won a game in four previous tries. They even started off right with Venezuelan superstar Deyna Castellanos curling in a lovely effort with her left foot in the 33rd minute. However, Athletic’s equaliser in the 41st minute was a sign of things to come. Goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin dallied on the ball and was robbed off it by some fine pressing from Lucía García. The ball rolled across goal and despite Merel van Dongen sliding in to clear the ball, Ainhoa Vincente got enough on the deflection from that clearance to find the back of the net.
That goal seemed to have breathed some life into Athletic who in the second half, attacked Atlético Madrid with everything they had. They were caught in the 51st minute after Ludmila got her ninth goal of the season and Amanda Sampedro made it three in the 76th minute but this was an Athletic side that was determined to get something from this game and felt that they could. As the game began to wind down, Atleti left themselves comically open in the 85th minute which allowed Yulema Correra to break quickly on the counter and find García. Any time Lucía García had been in and around the 18 yard area, she had been dangerous and this opportunity did not pass her by as she scored from a tight angle to put Athletic within one of tying the game. That second Athletic goal really should have been a red flag for Atlético Madrid but they continued to leave gaps for Athletic club to exploit. It was only a matter of time before they conceded again and one began to wonder if Atleti would snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. They did not but not before letting García drift into space during a corner and find her eighth goal of the season in stoppage time.
Dani González encapsulated his team’s performance well in the post-match interview, claiming that Atleti lacked control of the game in the last 15 minutes which led to Athletic’s opportunities in transition. Club captain Sampedro was even more blunt, saying, “We can’t lose two points in 10 minutes after winning 1-3. We are Atlético de Madrid and what happened to us today cannot happen again.”
It honestly can’t as they have five other teams now essentially breathing down their necks for that final Champions League spot. In fact, that draw now leaves Atleti in fourth, one below Real Madrid and two below Granada. They cannot afford to be less in control of matches anymore as those around them are sensing their vulnerability in defense and will look to pounce as soon as they get their chance. They now have a home game against Madrid CFF this weekend and if they drop points in that one, well, that will really put the pressure on Dani González in a way that it has not been before.
- The good times continue for Real Madrid as they followed up their 5-2 dismantling of Sevilla FC Femenino with a tough 2-1 win away at Levante. Marta Cardona has been in sparkling form and has helped give defenders a new threat to focus on, allowing the likes of Kosovare Asllani to shine. After a rocky first season as the women’s side of one of the biggest sides in football, David Aznar has started off this season well and has found a formula that works for his team. Real Madrid will now travel to RCD Espanyol Femenino this weekend who have one win in five. Another victory for Los Blancas could put them right in the driving seat in that battle for second.
- Granada top the table, for now, after their 3-1 win over Real Betis Féminas. Ange N’Guessan, Patricia Gavira Collado and Allegra Poljak all found the back of the net and ensured all three points for their side. Santa Teresa CD are up next for Granada, and after witnessing Barcelona put nine past their opponents this weekend, they should be looking to get all three points and keep their fairytale start to the season going.
- Two wins on the bounce leave Real Sociedad in fifth heading into this weekend. A strong showing against Rayo Vallecano Femenino has left La Real right in the thick of things as they too look to keep pushing themselves up the table. They go up against Sevilla on Sunday and will hope to make it three wins out of three.
- Madrid CFF remain in the hunt for second as well despite losing 1-0 to Sporting de Huelva on Wednesday. That was an unexpected performance from Madrid especially after they put Valencia CF Femenino to the sword a few days earlier. They currently sit in seventh but have two games in hand and a big match against Atlético on Sunday. A win for Madrid here would catapult them up the table while a loss would put them further adrift in their push for a continental place. This will undoubtedly be the tie of the round as both teams will be looking to bounce back with a win, no matter what.
- Levante were unlucky to lose to Real Madrid during the week especially after doing so well against Rayo this past weekend. It was a debilitating loss for the Granotes as they are in sixth with two games in hand. They do however have to go up against a resilient Real Betis side and try to somehow come away from there with three points to make those games in hand count. There is still all to play for considering where we are in the season but the more they drop away from the likes of Real Madrid, the harder it will be Levante to close that gap when the business end of the season arrives.