Vicky Losada has had a long career until becoming a pillar and the captain of Barça Femení. While she has missed many games through injury, her return could be vital for the blaugranas this season.
Vicky Losada is a personified version of the tempo, the control, and the calm. She was part of the first group of Barcelona league winners and UEFA Women’s Champions League debutantes. She is the first Spanish woman to score a goal in a World Cup. She was the first woman to captain a Barcelona team at a UEFA Women’s Champions League final. She is the Barcelona player with the third most all-time appearances in the first team. She is, among other things, a staple of Spanish football, the captain and emblem of Barça Femení, and she is a master of the game.
Giving a leg up in each battle, she became a star in her own light. Breaking barriers at a hectic pace, Barcelona Femení’s first great achievements bore her mark. The achievement of four consecutive leagues titles, including the first in the history of Barcelona, and the conquest of the second Copa de la Reina in 2011 had the mark of Vicky Losada right in the centre.
Determined to change the future of things, the Catalan took to kicking the gardens and streets in the 90’s, quickly forging an idyllic romance with the ball. The gate of La Masía opened to receive the midfielder at only 14 years old. With confidence in herself and her abilities, she needed just more than a year to make the leap to the first team in 2006.
Barcelona were relegated at the end of her debut season, and as a result, she opted for a move to Catalan rival RCD Espanyol for the next season. FC Barcelona were promoted back to the Superliga at the end of the 2007/08 season, prompting her return back to her childhood club.
Losada with the growth of Barça Femení
2011 marked a new beginning for the club, as Losada started in the final of the 2011 Copa de la Reina, helping Barcelona win their first major trophy in almost two decades. The following 2011/12 season, Barcelona would go on to win their first-ever Primera Division title, solidifying themselves as a force in Spanish football. Losada scored 15 goals in that campaign.
In the early 2010’s Barcelona completely dominated the Primera División, winning two domestic doubles with Losada as a pivotal figure. Losada assumed captaincy at the start of the 2013/14 season where Barcelona recorded their second consecutive domestic double. She left Barcelona and joined the Western New York Flash on loan for the 2014 NWSL season. Losada returned to Barcelona for the last few months of 2014.
The stint with Arsenal
Losada left Barcelona for Arsenal in March 2015. She said that one of her reasons for leaving was to challenge herself against English physicality – most likely to prepare herself going into Spain’s first-ever Women’s World Cup campaign. She won the WSL Cup in her first season there and the FA Women’s Cup at Wembley in the following season.
Vicky Losada, during her time at Arsenal | Photo by Harry Hubbard via Getty Images
She won some individual trophies while playing in England including Arsenal Ladies Supporters’ Player of the Season for 2016, was named in the PFA FA WSL Team of the Year in 2015 and won the Catalan Women Player of the Year in 2016.
The return of the prodigal daughter
Losada returned to Barcelona in November 2016 as a more complete and well-rounded player, having learned from the experience of playing alongside legends in London.
Losada when asked about returning to Barcelona: “I’d love to be part of what’s going on there andI want to win the Champions League with Barcelona”.
She assumed full captaincy upon her full-season return in 2017/18, winning the Copa de la Reina and finishing second in the league just one point behind the winners Atlético de Madrid. She captained Barca to their first UEFA Women’s Champions League final in 2019 and shared the below words before the matchday:
“The pressure is on Lyon. That’s the reality. We are growing, our responsibility is to win. If we did it, it would be historical, it would mark a before and after in Spanish football. It is the match of our lives for all of us”
Barcelona were defeated by Lyon 4–1, ending in tears for captain Losada.
Vicky Losada is a quick-witted player with meticulous precision in her passing. She is the guardian of the ball, the one who moves the ball with tactical sense. She is a technically gifted midfielder with an eye for goal and a great engine. To all that you can add her ability as a leader and her experience at various clubs.
Well-groomed with prodigious speed, always giving the best move, Vicky thrives to the beat of Barça Femení. She rose from the hard descent to the Segunda División in her first year to become the central axis of a squad that gradually sought her presence. Taking care of every detail, in a short time, she managed to become unquestionable in the core of the team. Losada deploys a true arsenal of resources in the most creative area of the field, a manual of touch, control.
She is the link to the team. Everything goes through her boots. Create, distribute and generate football. She admires Xavi Hernández, but has nothing to envy him. Vicky knew how to adapt what she had learned outside Barcelona with the theories of La Masía, establishing herself once again as the perfect compass in the core of Barcelona. Instructor of the short game, the ball looks for her to always trace the best move before executing it with precision. Taking care of the ball, pamper it and make it her best ally, she is the face of Barcelona’s midfield.
Her season so far
She missed most part of this season to injury. However, she came back hard dressed with the first captain’s armband, the Barça number 6 reappeared after a roadblock with the injuries. Recovered, and with a smile in tow, the climactic moment raised to the sky of Salamanca, the first Women’s Super Cup in Spain in history, rewarded the hard setback on the road. Vicky was back, and football was smiling at her feet.
Losada is a leader on and off the pitch that makes the most complex easy. The baton of the Femení game goes through her boots. Relentless before her rivals, just a fine swing with the leather glued to her boots is enough to elude the enemy. Without the need for sudden movements, the elegance of the captain on the football pitch annihilates any opposition. She is the teacher, she is the brain and she is the captain.
With Barcelona Women keen to keep kicking on, there is every reason to believe that their academy graduate and captain can continue to flourish and contribute towards rekindling the glory days at the club that she loves and help them win their first-ever UEFA Women’s Champions League title.
Caroline Graham Hansen growing into the leadership role among Barça’s attackers
As shown in the Champions League semi-final loss against VfL Wolfsburg, Barça Femení may be short of leadership qualities upfront, but 25-year-old Caroline Graham Hansen is starting to provide just that.
After the loss against VFL Wolfsburg, FC Barcelona Femení learned that they needed to improve upon a lot of things if they wanted to be the best team in Europe. Many of Barcelona’s unresolved issues were exposed that night, such as poor match management, questionable team selection, and lack of clinical attacking.
However, the most standout thing that went wrong for Barcelona was their season-long issues with finishing, which came to a head at the worst possible time. Upon reflection, it was clear that Barcelona lacked both a positive mentality and a commanding leadership personality up top. That role is still desperately needed if Barcelona wants to be champions of Europe, and of all their current forwards, Caroline Graham Hansen may be the player best suited to pick up that role.
Ahead of the Barcelona v Wolfsburg, it was difficult to predict who the winner was going to be. Both teams were very similar in that they were renowned for the same matter: their outstanding attacking strength. For Wolfsburg, it was Pernille Harder, Fridolina Rolfo, Ewa Pajor, Alexandra Popp and Svenja Huth. For Barcelona, it was Lieke Martens, Mariona Caldentey, Jenni Hermoso, Asisat Oshoala and Caroline Graham Hansen.
Understandably, one of the most popular predictions about the game was that it was going to be a goal-fest. It didn’t quite work out that way though, as both teams’ forwards struggled to find the back of the net.
Barcelona in particular had a shocking night in terms of finishing. 14 shots with only one on target gave them a 9% shot accuracy. Something was clearly off about them, especially considering that everyone knows what these players are capable of. At that point, their front four was arguably Europe’s strongest overall attacking threat. It is for this reason that this loss and their lack of clinical finishing was 100% mental.
Barcelona’s captains and other leadership personalities are all midfielders, defenders or keepers. Consider Vicky Losada, Alexia Putellas, Marta Torrejón, Sandra Paños, Patri Guijarro and some of the younger players like Laia Codina and Aitana Bonmatí. These footballers in particular have captaincy qualities in multiple aspects. They command the play on the pitch, they aren’t afraid to give orders to anyone regardless of talent or superiority, they perform at a high level for 90+ minutes, they aren’t afraid to step up publicly and take responsibility with the media, and they are deeply dedicated to the club. What else do they all have in common? None of them are forwards.
This isn’t to say Barcelona’s attackers aren’t mentally strong. You have to be to play at this level. But at this moment, there is no outstanding player in attack who shows the traits of a captain. Which of the starting forwards can be the answer to this problem?
The two players that can already be eliminated from the conversation are Asisat Oshoala and Lieke Martens. These are two of the most accomplished players for their respective countries and have been at the top of the world for a while, but they don’t display many leadership qualities. Neither of them is very vocal or commanding, they aren’t too keen on giving directions, and, most importantly, their mentality in a game typically depends on those around them. There is nothing wrong with either of them not being leaders, but these two just won’t be the ones to do it.
Caroline Graham Hansen, wearing the captain armband with Norway’s national team | Photo by Jorge Guerrero / AFP via Getty Images
Jennifer Hermoso is unlike Asisat and Martens in this regard. She’s a record-breaking veteran for both club and country and she even holds captaincy for Spain. Her presence and reputation as one of Spain’s greatest ever footballers command respect on its own.
However, she is a player who prefers to lead by example and move in silence. This is a perfectly valid leadership style in itself, but it doesn’t suit the needs of Barcelona. Jenni was one of Barcelona’s best performers against Wolfsburg, but her top-notch performance clearly wasn’t enough. The team needed more, and despite her leadership qualities and veteran status, she couldn’t provide it.
Additionally, culés understandably don’t want to think about it, but Jenni isn’t getting any younger. She isn’t the team’s future, and it wouldn’t make much sense for the forward line to structure themselves around her leadership.
This only leaves one other established player amongst the four starting forwards: enter Caroline Graham Hansen.
Graham Hansen is still just 25 years old but has gone through a lot in her career. She has had two heartbreaks in two Women’s Champions League finals and was injured during both of them. Her international career has been similar: she missed the 2015 Women’s World Cup due to injury and suffered three straight losses in the group stages of the 2017 Euros as Norway’s FA was dealing with deep dysfunction. Like Rory Smith put it, her career has long been a “question mark” in the eyes of many. The way she has overcome her own doubts since then is unlike most players in this sport.
Hansen has become a different animal as she has gotten older. No Wolfsburg fan can forget how she kneeled down and pumped her fists after scoring the decisive penalty kick against Bayern Munich in the 2018 DFB Pokal Final. No Norwegian – or Australian – can forget how in the 2019 Women’s World Cup, she kept a stone-cold face, looked Lydia Williams dead in the eyes, and slotted Norway’s first penalty of the shootout straight past her, raising her arms in celebration and commanding Norway to the quarter-finals.
When she is needed to step up, when she is needed to be a commanding force, when she is needed to be a leader, she has done it in some of the biggest matches of her recent career. Norway’s captain Maren Mjelde echoed this exact thought in an interview to FIFA.com from September 2019.
“In the last two years she has grown an awful lot, in two ways that complement each other: she is a great leader and a great team player at the same time. All her energies go into helping the team to play better and win. She was crucial for us at the World Cup and I still don’t think we have seen the best of her. She has got the quality to change games, and when it comes to one-on-one situations, she’s the best in the world…She has become a natural leader”Maren Mjelde, Norway’s captain
This display of mentality didn’t stop when she got to Spain either. In her first season with Barcelona, she was a pivotal part of the attack and had no fear approaching any defender. With 24 direct goal involvements in all competitions, it’s clear she is already comfortable with her role in the team.
Graham Hansen also has a clear love for Barcelona and has since she was a child. Despite only being present in Catalonia for a season, Caroline Graham Hansen is one of the most vocally committed players in this current group at FC Barcelona. Her words after the Wolfsburg semi-final loss reflect this in two different ways.
“I would say today we were better which proves that what Barça have been doing in recent years has been good, we are here to be reckoned with next year. We will go home and keep on training and improving because we want to avenge this defeat next year”Caroline Graham Hansen, via UEFA TV after losing against Wolfsburg
But on her Instagram, she chose a softer tone, expressing her love and dedication to the club, calling it “her home” and using the hashtag #soyculé (I am a culé): “I’m so proud to be a part of this team. This club. This family. Football isn’t always fair. That’s the sport. I accept that. We will come back. I know. We know. This is my home now. Thanks for having my back #soyculé”.
Caroline Graham Hansen admittedly has had some growing pains in this very new environment, but with this loss, she has only shown a drive to improve. She has everything at her disposal to be a leader in the attacking third. It’s her dedication, hunger, and ever-improving mentality that makes her the most likely player to become a leader for Barcelona’s forwards.