Having already trounced everyone in their path this season in La Liga Iberdrola, FC Barcelona Femení are set to lock horns with Real Madrid Femenino in the second Clasico of the season in the Estadi Johan Cruyff.
Date and Kickoff Time: 31st January 2021; 21:00 CET
Stadium: Estadi Johan Cruyff
Competition: La Liga Iberdrola
The last time Fútbol Club Barcelona and Real Madrid Femenino faced off, it was on the opening day of the season. Lluis Cortes’ side made a mockery out of his Madrid counterparts, trouncing them by four goals to nil in a rather one-sided encounter. It would set the tone for the Catalans’ season, as since then, they’ve tasted defeat just once in 16 games, and this too via penalty shootout in a game they largely dominated.
Heading into tomorrow afternoon’s game, both sides find themselves in somewhat similar circumstances. Despite having played three games less than Real Madrid in second, Barcelona top the league and having the least appearances in the whole division. In this time they’ve scored a whopping 69 goals, with Sandra Paños picking the ball from her net just twice.
Their hopes for silverware come season’s end are very much alive, as even despite their defeat to Atletico in the Supercup semifinals, the Garnet and Blue remain in contention for the Copa Del Rey and the treble as a whole.
Real Madrid meanwhile will be heading into this game feeling equally enthusiastic. Ever since their defeat to Barcelona in the reverse league fixture, they haven’t been anywhere near the same team. They’ve suffered just two defeats since their thumping defeat against their Catalan counterparts, and these too with narrow scorelines. They tore Espanyol to shreds at their peak, winning by eight goals to one in what remains the second biggest winning margin this season.
What to expect from Barcelona
If ever there were a flawless football club, then the Femení are as close to that definition as anyone can come. This season, such is their offensive prowess and potent finishing that they average 5.75 goals a game. Their goals are perfectly distributed among their forward line, rather than depending on just one player for a majority of their offensive exploits, they have Jenni Hermoso, Asisat Oshoala, Caroline Graham Hansen, Lieke Martens among others to thank.
Lluis Cortes’ side generally line up in three formations, each with its specific context, however, they don’t affect their style of play, rather enhance it depending on the opposition. These are the 4-3-3, the 4-2-3-1 and the 4-1-4-1.
In goal, it is an absolute certainty that Sandra Paños will maintain her spot in between the sticks, with Catalina Coll second in the pecking order.
In central defence, as has been the case in every big game this season, Maria, or ‘Mapi’ Léon will hold down the fort on the left side of the back two. Partnering her should be Andrea Pereira to complete the centre-back pairing. Marta Torrejón has cemented her spot as the team’s starting right-back and is having a rather fruitful campaign thus far, with four goals and three assists to her name. The left-back role is up for contention. Leila Ouahabi and Ana Crnogorćević have shared the spoils almost equitably this season, with the Spanish international edging her Swiss counterpart by just four minutes. Given Lluis Cortes’ track record in matches of this magnitude, we at Barca Universal believe that Leila Ouahabi has the highest chances at taking the starting role.
The midfield will largely depend on the manager’s intentions for the forward line. If he wishes to play both Jenni and Oshoala, which will most likely be the case, he will opt for a 4-1-4-1, with Patri Guijarro taking up the pivot role. Accompanying her in the centre of the park will be Alexia Putellas. Assuming he goes for a 4-3-3, then the same duo will be present, with the addition of one of Vicky Losada or Aitana Bonmati to complete the midfield three.
The attack, again, will depend on Cortes’ aspirations. Should his desire be to play Jenni Hermoso, then it is imperative that he also start Oshoala. The Spaniard plays rather deep, and while she does this, neither Mariona Caldentey (deputising for the injured Lieke Martens) nor Graham Hansen will have a target man in the final third. This was the case against Atletico in the Supercup, and simply can’t be repeated. If a 4-3-3 is to be implemented, then a front line composed of Graham, Oshoala and Mariona will suffice.
What to expect from Real Madrid
Sitting just behind Barça, with 34 points from a potential forty-five, with three defeats, just a single draw and eleven victories, Real Madrid has seen an unprecedented rise into prominence and is fighting for a Champions League spot.
Over the course of the past month, they have played just two league games, emerging victorious against Madrid Club de Fútbol Femenino, and just barely beating newly promoted Santa Teresa in the other. They should have played four by now, however, due to match postponements brought about by covid outbreaks in their rivals, they have been forced to miss two matches.
As the league’s second-most offensive outfit and also the second most stable defensively, Real Madrid will surely give Barça a run for their money. Kosovare Assilani was signed in the 2019 summer transfer window and currently tops their goal-scoring charts, with 9 goals from 14 appearances. Her partner in the wing, Sofia Jacobsson, is a menacing figure in attack. She is rather versatile, as she can occupy any role in the final third in a 4-3-3. Conceding just a goal a game on average, Real Madrid have shown a true competitive spirit and defensive fortitude, and Barça have to take care, lest they lose their lead at the top of the pile.
Player to Watch
In a team on the rise, Sofia Jacobsson stands out above the rest. She currently has 5 goals, the joint second-most goals in her side, and of the 34 goals her team has scored, she has had a hand in creating twelve of them, with 7 assists to her name. Her menacing character makes her unpredictable, as she can occupy any one of the three spots in a 4-3-3.
Barça made quick work of Los Blancos several months back, however, this is an entirely different side, and the same goes for the Swede. Should Barça shut her down, they will take enormous strides to secure all three points and extend their 100% record.
Previous games: WLWWW
Rayo Vallecano 0-7 Barcelona | La Liga
Atlético de Madrid (3)1-1(1) Barcelona | Supercopa España
Barcelona 5-0 Espanyol| La Liga
Deportivo Abanca 1-6 Barcelona | La Liga
Barcelona 6-0 Sevilla | La Liga
Position in La Liga
36 points in 12 games
12 wins, 0 draws and 0 losses
69 Goals Scored, 2 Goals Conceded
+67 Goal Difference
Previous games: WWWLW
Real Madrid 1-0 Santa Teresa | La Liga
Real Madrid 2-0 Madrid CFF | La Liga
Sporting Huelva 0-1 Real Madrid | La Liga
Real Madrid 0-1 Atlético de Madrid | La Liga
Espanyol 1-8 Real Madrid | La Liga
Position in La Liga
34 points in 15 games
11 win, 1 draw, 3 losses
34 goals scored, 14 goals conceded
+20 goal difference
Head to head record
Real Madrid 0-4 Barcelona | La Liga 2020/21
CD Tacón 0-6 Barcelona | La Liga 2019/20
Barcelona 9-1 CD Tacón | La Liga 2019/20
- Barcelona are on a 12 winning streak in La Liga
- Barcelona hasn’t lost a League game since the final matchday of the 2018/19 season
- Real Madrid has never beaten Barcelona in a game, official or otherwise
- Real Madrid is playing in the Estadi Johan Cruyff for the first time under their current name.
Torrejón · Pereira · María León · Leila
Graham · Jenni · Alexia · Mariona
Coach: Lluis Cortes
Nobles · Babett · Andrés · Corredera
Kaci · Teresa · Oroz
Marta · Assilani · Sofia
Coach: David Aznar Chicharro
Ties between the two have had the nets bulged an obscene amount of times. At Barca Universal, we acknowledge their growth of late and know they will for sure be a tricky opponent, however, there’s more than enough firepower on Barça’s side to ensure that there will be no upset.
Barça Universal Prediction: Barcelona 5-1 Real Madrid
FCB Femeni’s January Player of the Month: Alexia Putellas
Another month down, another couple of wins for FCB Femeni. The team is in smooth sailing towards their second consecutive league title with an otherworldly wins-only season, including 73 goals scored and only 3 conceded. January was a rough month for the Catalan team, however, as they faced multiple match cancellations due to both a freak snowstorm and COVID-19 positives alongside an early Supercopa Femenina exit. Aside from the many downs, there were plenty of positives. FCB Femeni played a history-making match at the Camp Nou, the team’s first competitive match in the iconic stadium, and they dominated in a resounding 5-0 win against local rivals Espanyol Femeni. Later in the month, they smashed Rayo Vallecano Femenino 7-0, and at the end of January, they won the second-ever El Clasico Femenino against Real Madrid, scoring 4 at the Estadi Johan Cruyff.
Given the many iconic moments in this month alone, it was never going to be an easy choice. Plenty of players showed up big this month. Asisat Oshoala seems to have returned to form after a rough few months, scoring four goals and having many quality performances aside from her goalscoring. Melanie Serrano has had one of her best seasons in recent memory, and her performances this month were no exception. But if there was one player who came in clutch and made history, it was Alexia Putellas. She started the year strongly by being the first-ever woman to score a competitive goal at the Camp Nou. Her free kick in the dying minutes of the Supercopa Femenina saved Barcelona from going out in regular time against Atletico Madrid. At the end of the month, she drew first blood in the second-ever Clasico, imposing herself against Los Blancos with relative ease. Aside from her goalscoring, she once again had multiple dominant performances in terms of her assisting, passing, and attacking play. Once again, Alexia Putellas is deservedly our player of the month for January.
Primera Iberdrola – RCD Espanyol Femeni (Camp Nou) (6/1/2021): 5-0
• Minutes: 90
• 1 Goal
January 6th marked a historic day for Barcelona as they entered the Camp Nou pitch for the first time after 50 years. The Blaugranas started the game on a bright note with Alexia dictating the play. At the 4th minute of the game, Alexia had a tame shot at the goal following a cut-back from Melanie Serrano. As the shots racked up in the beginning minutes, it looked like Barca would follow this season’s pattern of scoring an early goal. However, Barca were devoid of any clear cut chances after that, and Espanyol started to grow defensively as time went on.
The second big chance fell to Alexia Putellas in the 43rd minute after a cutback this time from Patri following a beautiful couple of moves inside the box. Again, Alexia’s shot was too weak with her right foot and it found the hands of the goalkeeper. However, Alexia made up for her misses when the turning point of the game came in the 45th minute. During a stoppage-time corner, Alexia raced past the marker to head the ball into the far corner of the net, giving Barca some much-needed breathing room going into the half-time. Barca cruised to victory in the second half with a scoreline of 5-0 after goals from Melanie Serrano, Marta Torrejon, Lieke Martens, and Ana Maria Crnogocevic, which ended any hopes of a comeback for the local rivals.
Spanish Supercopa Femenino: Semi Finals – Atletico Madrid Femenino (A) (13/1/2021): 1-1 ( 3-1 PT)
• Minutes: 120
• Goals: 1
Barca played Atléti in the Spanish Supercup semifinal on January 13th. Both the teams were going into the game after Spain’s freak snowstorm, “Filomena,” canceled all the league’s Madrid-based weekend matches. Atlético Madrid announced the re-hiring of manager Dani Gonzalez on the eve of the matchday, sparking a lot of excitement going into the game. The game followed a similar pattern to that of the one played in August when Barça defeated Las Colchoneras to clinch a spot in the UWCL semifinals. As expected, Atleti defended with 9 women at the back and played long balls to Ludmila whenever they had a chance to counter.
Even though Barcelona dominated the game, they failed to score and paid for their lack of effectiveness when Atléti were awarded a penalty in the 66th minute. Merel van Dongen then converted it to give Madrid the advantage. It looked like everything was lost until the 90th minute when Alexia was brought down at the edge of the box. Although it looked like Barcelona was going to lose in regular time, the midfielder had other ideas and took matters into her own hands. Alexia scored a sublime free-kick past a diving Hedvig Lindahl who, until then, was keeping Barca at bay for 90 excellent minutes. In the end, it was not enough for Barca as they paid the price for not converting their chances, also being kept down by some harsh refereeing decisions not going their way. The Catalans ended up losing to Atléti on penalty kicks and were knocked out of the tournament, thereby missing their first possible title of the year.
Primera Iberdrola – Rayo Vallecano (H) (20/1/2021): 7-0
• Minutes: 72
• Goals: 2
FCB Femeni came into the game after their tough semifinal loss to Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Supercup, hoping to get back into their rhythm. Barça scored an early goal inside 5 minutes after Alexia’s header was parried into the feet of Jennifer Hermoso. After the first goal, it was one-way traffic for the home side as they punctured Rayo’s defense with another 3 goals- Alexia being the catalyst of each of them.
Alexia scored her first goal of the game following Melanie’s cross. She stayed in position and gracefully chipped over the keeper’s head to double Barca’s lead. She remained a key part of the midfield in tracking back and dictating the entirety of the half and scored her second goal following a well-worked team move. In the 40th minute of the game, Asisat Oshoala was sent through by Jennifer Hermoso, and Asisat teed up Caroline Graham-Hansen to score from close range. However, Hansen’s shot was blocked and the ball fell into the path of Alexia for an easy tap-in. Barça easily swept past mid-table Rayo to remain top of the table after the matchday.
Primera Iberdrola – Real Madrid (H) (31/1/2021): 4-1
• Minutes: 87
• Goals: 1
• Second Assists:1
Barça faced their new league rival Real Madrid Femenino in the last game of the month, 11 days after their match against Rayo due to multiple match cancellations. This was expected to be a totally different game compared to their first encounter, as Los Blancos have grown into the league and were occupying the second-place position at the time. All the match previews indicated that Real Madrid were in great form, recording only 3 losses in 15 games, with a much more balanced and cohesive team than their first game against the Blaugranas. Additionally, if the team from Spain’s capital won at the Estadi Johan Cruyff, they would’ve gone to the top of the league.
The match started with Real Madrid and Barcelona both going on the offense and trying to assert themselves. Despite Madrid entering the match bravely and attacking well, Barcelona scored first just 14 minutes into the match. Once again, it was the captain, Alexia Putellas, who kicked it off for the Catalan team. Alexia was intuitive in collecting the ball at the edge of the box and scoring a blistering strike to the top left of the net that Misa Rodriguez struggled to get a hand on. From then, it was a similar pattern as the first Clásico, and Barça advanced to a 3 goal lead by the end of the first half. The match proved that Madrid’s women have improved a lot, but they were never a match to the 2019-20 champions as Barca ran out winners 4-1 at the end of full-time.
When Alexia is fit and firing, there isn’t a way to stop her from creating chances and scoring goals. After her breakout out season last year, she’s continued her form and is having yet another world-class season. Alexia only continues to get better and better, and with a lot of important competitions in the next few months, her performances will be integral to the success of the club.