Coming into the match with 45 consecutive competitive wins under their belt, and matches still to be played in Spain before the final in Torino, just getting through unscathed seemed to be the order of the day for Barcelona. For Wolfsburg, who’ve been far more confident and assured at home, the match was a chance to redeem themselves and atone for their errors in Barcelona the previous week.
Indeed, Wolfsburg stepped out at the Volkswagen Arena – in front of a record crowd of 22,057 – far more focused than they had been in Catalunya and where they had been defensively flimsy, there was resolution and restriction. Despite a few nervy moments at the very start of the game, Wolfsburg did indeed do a better job of cutting out the passing lines for the visitors, jamming the space in front of the box.
Maybe Barcelona were focused on just playing through the 90-minutes and getting back to Spain – the team with their last three league matches scheduled over an 11-day period next month. Or maybe they weren’t anticipating the need to work harder on breaking Wolfsburg down, but the first half was rather a dour affair compared to the first half from the first leg. The hosts focused on keeping the Catalans’ at an arm’s length and Barcelona continually coming up short on ideas of how to break them down.
Putting on a show
For the Wolves, if step one was keeping Barcelona out, then step two would surely have been giving the home support something to cheer about and maybe (just maybe) force a route back into the tie. A banger from Tabea Waßmuth - taking her tally to ten goals in the competition this season - two minutes into the second half, had the Volkswagen Arena rocking.
Not quite smelling blood in the water, but seeing their opportunity to claim a rare win over Barcelona and remind everyone of their footballing prowess, the hosts doubled their tally on the hour when Jill Roord struck low from the top of the box. Still two goals behind on aggregate, the hosts continued to push for another with their opposition still looking very much off colour.
Even adding fresh legs to the equation did little to help Barcelona out, as Wolfsburg continued to hold a firm shape and refuse to give much up in their own half as the promise of a third goal continued to hang in the Wolves’ favour. Pushing for another right up until the last, Wolfsburg just couldn’t narrow the aggregated gap even at a rash of corners at the death.
The full-time stats somewhat of a surprise, Barcelona finishing the match with more attempts (17 to Wolfsburg’s 15) and more on target (6:5), but there was no incision from the visitors, no promise of the spectacular. The tears from Wolfsburg players at the full-time whistle hammered home the hollow nature of the result, despite redeeming themselves and doing what no other team has done in over a year - in keeping Barcelona out - the Wolves, a staple of Champions League finals over the last decade were again missing out. Barcelona left to celebrate their place in Torino, no concerns over the end of their winning streak or sub-par performance, just eyes focused forward.