FC Barcelona showed utter dominance throughout the UEFA Women’s Champions League and trounced Chelsea 4-0 to win their maiden European title on Sunday. Melanie Leupolz scored a very early own goal and from there, Barcelona tormented Chelsea to grab a massive victory. Alexia Putellas scored a penalty in the 14th minute, six minutes after which Aitana Bonmati scored Barca’s third. Caroline Graham Hansen then sealed the deal for the Catalan club in the 36th minute with the team’s fourth goal.
All the goals in the game were scored in the first half but the team showed great maturity, solidity and clarity in thought to keep Chelsea at bay in the second half and win the trophy in a business-like fashion.
Barca became the first club to have won the UEFA Men’s and Women’s Champions League titles both with the victory on Sunday with the women writing a new chapter in the glory book of Barcelona.
Here are a few takeaways from the match:
LEUPOLZ’S DISASTROUS DAY
Leupolz had a very bad day in the office and her misery started in just the 33rd second of the game. Chelsea were pushed to the backburner right in that first minute when Leupolz inadvertently looped the ball into her own net with Barca’s putting the team under pressure with an early effort that hit the crossbar. After giving her team that dreadful start, Leupolz made a further mistake, an even bigger one, when she gave away the penalty. Leupolz could not deal with the speed of Jennifer Hermoso and with a late challenge on her, she gave away the penalty that made for Barca a solid base in the victory.
Leupolz could not hold the fort in the midfield at all, couldn’t provide any sort of creative outlink to her team and had a day to forget. Such was her performance that she was the first one Chelsea boss Emma Hayes substituted.
Barcelona brought to the game that Lyon-like dominance. All these years, Lyon had dominated their opponents in the Champions League finals when they won the title. Barca themselves were crushed 4-1 in their 2019 Champions League final at the hands of Lyon. But on Sunday, Barca’s rode on that 2019 final experience and produced an envious performance.
Ahead of the match, all the talk was about how Barca like to keep the ball and Chelsea could hurt them on the counter given their attacking prowess. While Barca did keep the ball, they also adapted to the game very early on and gave the Blues a lesson in counter-attacking football. Every time Barca went forward, they looked like scoring. Chelsea just could not keep up with them and match the speed that Barca were bringing to the game.
Barca’s passing was impeccable - a 79 per cent accuracy where they made 540 passes. Their passing was intricate and quick with their players making excellent movements in and around the box to give ample options to their teammates. The third goal they scored was a beautiful team goal. Lieke Martens first pushed back the ball in between two Chelsea defenders. Hermoso got to it and passed to Kheira Hamraoui who spotted the beautiful run of Bonmati in behind the Chelsea defence and passed it to her to find the back of the net.
MARTENS, BONMATI STAR
Both Bonmati and Martens absolutely tormented the Chelsea defence and midfield. Bonmati, on the right flank, was a constant menace and even played a bit of a free role with her movement on the right and through the centre. Not only did she score the third goal, she also had another effort of hers saved and recovered the ball or found precise passes innumerous times. Bonmati’s speed, guile and intelligence on and off the ball was extremely crucial to the way Barca passed the ball around and switched flanks to suit themselves.
Martens, on the other hand, was an absolute livewire on the left flank. She was involved in all of the four goals and for the fourth goal, she completely took apart Niamh Charles and laid it on the plate for Hansen. The way Martens took on the Chelsea players, found those gaps and create chances after chances, she was a delightful watch on the night.