Our Guest Author: Kelsie Smith
As of last week, Sonia Bermúdez’s goalscoring records have been broken for both the Spanish women’s national team and for FCB Femení. Jennifer Hermoso’s hat trick against Moldova in November pushed her ahead of Bermúdez to become the second-highest Spain women’s national team scorer. The following week, a poker against Santa Teresa last week propelled Jenni up to 125 goals for Barcelona in official competitions, making her Barcelona’s all-time top scorer and passing Sonia’s record of that had been held for half a decade.
Out of Sonia’s two-decades-long senior career, she spent four of those years at FC Barcelona. In those four seasons, Bermúdez was at the forefront of one of the most dominant, trailblazing eras of FCB Femenís history so far, in what could be considered their first Golden Era. Her 38 league goals in the 2011-12 campaign set the stage for Barcelona to win their first league title in the club’s history, only a few years after they were relegated to the Second Division. This first league title win also prompted the club’s entry to the UEFA Women’s Champions League in which Sonia scored one of Barcelona’s first goals. Overall, she scored a staggering 123 goals in official competitions for the club, and ended up winning the Pichichi as the league’s top scorer in every season she was at Barcelona. That record of four Pichichis also ended up being tied by Jenni Hermoso only a few months ago upon the completion of the 2019-20 league season.
For Spain, the forward has a dissimilar story. She made her national team debut in 2008 when Spain’s women’s national football team was in a situation nothing close to ideal. La Roja were victims of poor planning and deprioritization, complete with an inadequate coach and neglect from their federation. It was her generation of footballers that turned around Spain’s luck in major international competitions and ushered in these new accomplishments despite innumerable roadblocks.
Bermúdez was a frequent starter in the Spain national team squad of 2013, who made history by qualifying for Spain’s first EURO in 16 years, and the 2015 squad where Spain qualified for their first ever Women’s World Cup. Although each of these campaigns were short-lived, they set a new precedent for women’s football in Spain that they were ready to prove themselves on an international stage.
Like most of Spain’s internationals of this era, most if not all of her international goals came in qualifying matches. This may not seem like much, but considering the players of her era had never qualified for any major international tournament before 2013, these goals were invaluable to the team’s progression. One of her most notable goals includes a 2-0 World Cup 2015 qualifying win against Italy that pushed Spain three points ahead to the top of the table. Bermúdez is also a free-kick specialist, with one of her most memorable national team goals being a 30-yard curler against Macedonia.
Off the pitch, Sonia continued her trailblazing career by being open about her working conditions as a female footballer. After Spain’s heartbreaking group-stage exit in the 2015 Women’s World Cup, she was only one of the few players to individually speak to the media about ousting former national team manager Ignacio Quereda.
After the Spanish women’s national team unified to oust Quereda, Sonia told AS:
“The time has come. We’ve been in fear for many years and holding a lot back. We have nothing against the RFEF or the President but we asked for a change because we needed it… we hope the Federation will listen to us and find a solution. It’s not in our minds that he might stay. At least, that’s the hope we have.”Sonia Bermúdez
Her national team career essentially ended in 2017, when she failed to make the cut for that year’s Euro squad. Bermúdez retired from the national team with 34 goals, the second-most of all time behind Veronica Boquete until Jenni passed her in qualifying against Moldova.
Her retirement from the national team coincided with the downswing of her career. After Sonia left Barcelona, she went to Atlético Madrid where she picked up another two league titles and a Copa de la Reina. The forward ended her career this past May at 35 years old after spending two seasons at Levante. The Spaniard retired with a trophy cabinet of nine league titles and four Copas de la Reina under her belt, alongside an array of records, milestones, and accomplishments. Bermúdez may not hold any more scoring records for club or country, but her achievements will make her go down as one of the most monumental women’s footballers in Spain’s history.
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.