Caroline Graham Hansen has never been on the short-list for the Ballon D’Or nominees. Some of that may have been due to the number of injuries she’s picked up throughout her career but even then, when she’s fit she’s one of the best wingers the game has ever seen. Against Chelsea in the UEFA Women’s Champions League, Graham Hansen showed why it’s not hyperbole to say that about her.
The game hadn’t even gone past the five minute mark when she and Barcelona came alive to find the opening goal. A good bit of hold up play by Geyse saw Graham Hansen receive the ball out wide and run at the Chelsea backline. Most know that Graham Hansen is right-footed but she’s pretty handy with her left and with Chelsea looking to keep her off her strongest foot, they surely weren’t expecting what happened next.
With three or four defenders around her, trying to keep her outside of the box, Graham Hansen decided to show off just how two-footed she is by releasing a thunderous strike off of her left foot and into the far corner of the goal. Chelsea had done everything right except step up to Caroline Graham Hansen and deny her space and they were punished for it.
Graham Hansen wasn’t done though. Throughout the first half, any time she found space, she threatened to score again. She had a another left-footed shot that wasn’t as good as the first that fell into the goalkeeper’s hands and with the half running down, she took on Niamh Charles and almost found the back of the net again.
Watching Caroline Graham Hansen with full fitness and full confidence in herself is always fascinating for any viewer. She has a gracefulness to her dribbling that makes it look like everything is in slow motion yet no one can seemingly get the ball off of her. Her runs can easily be described as slaloming because that’s what they look like; a person gliding past obstacles with relative ease.
As a defender, matching up against Graham Hansen seems to be the ultimate nightmare which I’m sure Niamh Charles can attest to after today. You can’t mark her tightly because she has the strength, balance and pace to roll you. You can’t give her a little space to then try and close her down because she has the trickery and the ability in both feet to glide past you. You can only hope whatever decision you make is then further helped out by a poor touch or a poor decision by Graham Hansen which will then allow you to either nick the ball off of her or clear it away.
Graham Hansen’s sole goal was enough to see Barcelona get a first-leg win in London and she could’ve easily scored another or produced an assist for a teammate as well. In the second leg, with a vociferous Spotify Camp Nou behind her, she’ll be even more electric and worth every penny to anyone who paid to watch her live.
Many who watch the game will know just how good Caroline Graham Hansen is and how good she’s always been. For country, she hasn’t always had the right tactics or manager at the helm to display her quality but for club, whether with Barcelona or Wolfsburg, she has always been class. For whatever reason, the voters for the Ballon D’Or don’t seem to register her as a genuine talent but for those of us who watch her play regularly, there’s no denying just how brilliant she is.