Barça wants to rule in Europe as it does in Spain. He doesn’t shy away from American-led teams like City (they eliminated him in the quarterfinals), or even against powerful, physically impeccable teams like PSG. The Catalans landed in Paris ready to seek their second Champions League final, after falling categorically in 2019 against Lyon (4-1). Aggressive in individual duels, fast in the circulation of the ball, the Barça team gave up where they didn’t have to give up: a mistake in a stopped ball. Thus, PSG equalized the first leg of the semifinals, in which Barça had dominated in the game and on the scoreboard after Jenni Hermoso’s goal. “We had already shown it. This team can take the title ”, concluded Marta Torrejón.
Eliminated the great bogeyman of women’s football, Olympique de Lyon, winner of the last five Champions League, in the fight for Orejona the four best teams in Europe remained. This is how the protagonists understand it – “everything is very even,” Putellas understands – this is also how the statistics define it. Barça, PSG, Chelsea and Bayern lead the rankings in their respective leagues, the four toughest competitions in Europe. “Anyone can win this Champions League,” insists PSG forward Nadia Nadim. None of the four teams, however, rule their league as Barcelona does in Spain: the Catalans have won their 24 league games. But none have a domestic rival as tough as PSG: Lyon.
“It was a more psychological than football situation,” explains Nadim. Without euphemisms, Lyon had PSG scared. The team from the south of France won the last 14 leagues and had eliminated the Parisians in the last semifinal of the Champions League, as it had also prevailed in the only final of the Orejona between the two French teams in 2017. But PSG rebelled this season: it steals (for now) the leadership in France and, as if that were not enough, he threw it in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, his fetish competition. Self-esteem through the roof of the Parisians to receive Barça at the Georges Lefévre stadium under the gaze of Mauricio Pochettino, who began his career as a collaborator of the Espanyol women’s team in 2008.
Not even that curriculum scared Barça. In fact, the Catalans came out ready to corner PSG in their field. There is no longer any trace of the physical difference that existed between the French and the Spanish, when the Parisians eliminated Barça in the quarterfinals of 2016 (1-0, on aggregate) and in the semifinals of 2017 (5-1). Putellas, one of the four survivors of those duels, explains why. “We spend many hours in the gym, we take care of our diet. What happens to us is not by chance, ”says the Barça captain. Barça even prevailed in the heights. Jenni Hermoso took advantage of the good center of Aitana to overcome the Chilean goalkeeper of PSG and sign the 0-1. However, he was overconfident. Two errors in the control of the ball in the center of the field ended with Katoto heads-up against Paños. First the stick saved Barça, then it was the poor definition of the French forward. There was no third happy ending for Lluís Cortés’s girls.
“We knew they could hurt us from set pieces,” lamented Marta Torrejón. After two headshots in the area, Cook, PSG’s American defense, sealed the tie. The Barça recovered his script, also the PSG. Graham Hansen, Hermoso and Martens could not with Endler, neither could Bachmann, Nadim and Baltimore with Cloths. No occasion, in any case, was as clear as the one that Oshoala wasted in the small area after the good center of Torrejón. “It is clear that scoring away from home is positive. But it is a pity not to take the victory, we had opportunities ”, analyzed Torrejón. Barça will host PSG next Sunday at the Johan Cruyff.