Barça arrived in Sweden with something more than illusion: they came to give a voice to a whole generation of silenced women. He left with more than a drink: he left with the glory of those who write history. Surely in Barcelona there will be those who remember Inmaculada Cabecerán, who in 1970 fought to create a Barça women’s team. There will also be those who remember Nuria Llansà, who in 2002 insisted on turning it into a section. In 2021, there is no doubt that no one will forget Alexia Putellas, much more than the captain of the dressing room, something more than a representative of La Masia. It is the emblem of a team designed to win the Champions League. And for that reason, although the thigh of his left leg hurt, he could not miss in the final in Sweden. Because only with her in the eleven, Barça could overwhelm Chelsea (0-4) and conquer Europe.
As if the cold and submissive start of the Budapest final (0-4 in 45 minutes) was a lump in the throat about to explode, Barça made catharsis from the start in Gothenburg. He did not even let the clock strike the minute to show his repertoire: quality, yes; but also a lot of fierceness. Alexia, with her bulky bandage on her left leg, stole a ball to point Martens the way. The Dutchman’s dribble was accurate and the shot was accurate; but the ball hit the crossbar. Barça squeezed and, on the rebound, Leupolz’s predicament ended at 0-1. It was no accident. The Barça players already had the route marked on the GPS: advance pressure and look for Martens and Graham on the bands, all to the rhythm that sounds best in Sant Joan Despí: that of Putellas.
The Catalan is not the fastest or the most skilled, nor is she the most powerful, her football is in her head. Lluís Cortés knew it, his teammates too, and Putellas also knew that he had to take to the field in Gothenburg. It was the common thread. In 2012, at Barça’s Champions League debut, they fell 7-0 on aggregate to Arsenal. Putellas was already on that team. Seven years later, in the final against Lyon, Alexia was joined by Paños, Torrejón, Leila, Mapi León, Aitana and Martens. All present in the Ullevi, plus the balance of Pebble, the quality of Hermoso, the strength of Hamraoui and the skill of Graham Hansen.
It was the Norwegian who put one more march to look for Hermoso, who fell in the area after Leupolz’s butt. The penalty? For Putellas. It did not fail. The Catalan was cloned: she appeared to score, to defend, to join the lines and, of course, to filter balls to her teammates. If, on the play that ended in the first goal, he looked at Martens’ band, then he took from his repertoire a pass to the heart of the area for Aitana to sing the 0-3. All in 20 minutes. Premier and FA Cup champions Chelsea, the home of Pernille Harder, Kerr and Ji So-yun, looked like a sparring afraid. Fearful of the queens of Spain. It didn’t take long for fourth to fall: Cortes’ idea of ruling the wings was executed to perfection by Martens (again) and this time he handed the goal to Graham Hansen. As in the final in Budapest, the first for a Spanish team, the second half was left over. What happens is that this time Barcelona had left over, which had already fastened its first Champions League.
It is a triumph of the present, obviously. The triumph of the squad led by Putellas, as well directed by Cortés as well thought out by Markel Zubizarreta. But it is also the triumph of the past, of those soccer players who trained at night after working all day, with no other reward than the pride of breaking taboos and prejudices. But, above all, it is a triumph for the future, an indestructible legacy of a generation that grew up without references and became a reference. Between the past and the future, Barcelona is the present: European champion, Spanish pioneer.