The biggest fixture of the women’s club calendar was set to take place in the Netherlands on Saturday, as Liga F champions Barcelona prepared to face VfL Wolfsburg at the PSV’s Philips Stadion. Fans had been flocking onto the picturesque streets of Eindhoven since the early morning, allowing an incredible atmosphere to build ahead of kickoff – driven primarily by the Blaugrana’s sensational travelling support.
BAR: Paños; Rolfö, Mapi León, Paredes, Bronze; Guijarro, Walsh, Bonmatí; Caldentey, Paralluelo, Hansen
WOB: Frohms; Rauch, Janssen, Hendrich, Wilms; Roord, Oberdorf; Jónsdóttir, Popp, Huth; Pajor
Early pressure from Barcelona didn’t pay off for the Blaugrana, and the Catalan side were made to pay for their uncharacteristic lack of ruthlessness in the box – as a rare mistake from Lucy Bronze allowed Ewa Pajor to dash through on goal, smashing the ball past Sandra Paños to open the scoring with three minutes on the clock.
Missed chances were costly for Jonatan Giráldez’s side throughout the first half, as Caroline Graham Hansen wasn’t able to convert Salma Paralluelo’s cross and Irene Paredes thumped a header wide of the post under very little pressure.
Ahead of kickoff, it was the traveling Culers that provided much of Eindhoven’s incredible atmosphere – but as they trailed their German opponents, that had seemed to die down. Barcelona had been the masters of their own downfall, and bad turned to worse before the break for the Catalans. Ewa Pajor, in acres of space on the left flank, was able to fling in a pinpoint cross to Alex Popp – and the forward made no mistake with a beautiful headed effort.
Yet a two-goal deficit at half-time seemed harsh for Barcelona, who had enjoyed the better first-half performance – barring those two individual mistakes that were ruthlessly pounced upon by Wolfsburg. Rejuvenated after Jonatan Giráldez’s team talk, Barça were able to halve the Germans’ lead just minutes after the break through Patri Guijarro, who was perfectly positioned to poke home Caroline Graham Hansen’s ball from the right.
Barcelona’s travelling contingent had barely stopped celebrating, when Guijarro arrived inside the box once more – this time propelling Aitana Bonmatí’s cross past Merle Frohms to bring the Blaugrana level in spectacular fashion. When many would have seen them as dead and buried, Barça rose to the challenge – and were well on their way to Eindhoven euphoria.
A historic comeback was completed in the 70th minute, as Fridolina Rolfö pounced on a close-range rebound after moments of utter chaos inside the penalty box. Barça’s unrelenting attack was ruthless, still searching to extend their lead despite Wolfsburg looking utterly defeated – Aitana Bonmatí was denied from the edge of the area by Merle Frohms.
Just a few minutes from the end of regular time, Barcelona fans erupted as Alexia Putellas was introduced – and the game was in with a chance of a poetic ending as the two-time Ballon d’Or winner, affectionately known as la Reina, had an opportunity to make her mark on the game.
While Putellas didn’t have the desired effect on the match, Barça fans won’t mind all too much – as after almost nine painstakingly long minutes of injury time, they were crowned as European Champions for the second time in three years. Alexia Putellas will always be la Reina, but Patri Guijarro will certainly be a contender for that title after her tremendous performance in Eindhoven.