Three things we learned from Real Madrid’s 3-1 loss to Barcelona in UWCL

Real Madrid Femenino (Photo by Alvaro Medranda/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid Femenino (Photo by Alvaro Medranda/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid Femenino took on Barcelona Femení for the second time in seven days. As many would have predicted before the game, the Blaugrana won the game 3-1 and took a valuable two-goal lead into the 2nd leg of the UEFA Women’s Champions League Quarter-Final. This was Las Blancas’ second loss to the Primera Iberdrola champions in the space of seven days.

Alberto Toril preferred to do something different with the team. Instead of the more usual 4-4-2 lineup that we’ve seen Real Madrid Femenino play under the new manager, Toril fielded Real Madrid in a new-look 4-2-3-1.

Misa Rodríguez started in goal. Babett Peter and Rocío Gálvez started at the heart of the defence, supported by surprise pick Lucía Rodríguez as the right-back and January signing Sofie Svava as the left-back. Spanish duo Claudia Zornoza and Teresa Abelleira formed a double-pivot, with Maite Oroz starting as the #10 behind Esther González. Olga Carmona and Athenea del Castillo completed the attack as the wingers on either side of Esther.

Even though Real Madrid lost the match, there were a lot of positives to take away from the game. For the first time ever, Barcelona trailed Real Madrid in a women’s football match. Due to the high pressing scheme, the team won the ball in the Barca half. Esther dribbled past a player or two and set up an on-rushing Olga Carmona, whose left-footed strike found the bottom-right corner perfectly to make it 1-0 after only 8 minutes on the clock.

Las Blancas had two more opportunities to find the back of the net, both of them falling to the in-form Real Madrid Femenino #10 Esther González, who met a long ball in the box but shot it timidly, straight at Sandra Paños. At the end of the first half, her close control on the ball was on show once again as she controlled the ball in the Barca box, creating space for herself to shoot. Unfortunately, her right-footed strike hit the woodwork. Real Madrid ended the half with more attempts on target, with the score at 1-0.

The 2nd half started in a similar fashion. Real Madrid were a threat whenever they got forward while Barcelona were patiently creating passing patterns through periods of sustained possession, trying to stretch the Madrid backline whenever possible. However, the Real defenders were more determined than ever to not let Barca a way back into the game.

In the 49th minute, Olga tried to clear the ball which was parried by Misa off a cross, but her clearance resulted in Caroline Graham Hansen falling inside the Real Madrid box. The referee didn’t give the penalty at first, checking on with the VAR team. The referee overturned the decision after checking the incident on the VAR screen herself. In my opinion, it wasn’t a penalty. Alexia Putellas stepped up and calmly equalized.

After that, it was one-way traffic. Putellas’ equalizer sucked the life out of Real Madrid as their confidence got dented. Yet, they held on. It seemed like the 1st leg would end in a stalemate. But some nervy defending in the box – failing to clear the ball – resulted in a goal from substitute Clàudia Pina in the 81st minute. Alexia Putellas scored her 2nd of the game in the final minute of stoppage time to put the game – and possibly the tie – to bed.

The defeat was painful, more so because Real Madrid were the better team for the first 48 minutes of the game. But there was a lot to take away from the match. Here are three things we learned from the 1st leg.