Real Madrid Femenino lost their last match of the season 4-0 to FC Barcelona in the Copa de la Reina semi-finals. Below are my immediate thoughts. Player ratings and post-match podcast to follow.
- There were two ways of looking at this game pre-match: (1) Barcelona lost the Champions League final and have looked burned out, so they’re vulnerable; (2) Barcelona lost the Champions League final and will be mad as hell, so they’ll want to make a point in a Clásico. Unfortunately, the second way of analyzing it would’ve proved to be more accurate. Barcelona started off in dominant fashion and didn’t let up all game. Within the first minute, Zornoza had to clear a Rolfö shot at the near post from a corner and Misa was called into action not long after.
- Barcelona simply ascended to a rarified level with their possession play and counterpressing. Mariona started off on the right but roamed everywhere, with Aitana both reacting off of her movement and dropping to conduct build-up, as defensive midfielder Ingrid Engen sort of hung out and picked up loose balls every once in awhile. Meanwhile, Alexia dismarked with ease, pulling out to the touchline to break lines of pressure before somehow also making runs to the right-hand side of the pitch. It was her underlapping movement that produced Barcelona’s first goal of the game.
- But the big difference from this match and that UWCL QF 1st leg was the press. Barcelona didn’t give Madrid a chance to breath building out from the back and almost completely trapped their opponents in their own half. Esther was Las Blancas’ sole outlet and, while she often came too deep and wide, was about the only player who was able to hold up play and turn positively under pressure.
- Toril reacted by bringing off Esther for Nahikari at halftime. Perhaps he wanted someone who was more disciplined at pinning the last line, but it made little difference. Barcelona continued to hum along undisturbed and immediately doubled the score through Aitana.
- Barcelona then converted off of their billionth corner, with Mariona getting free in front of Misa for an easy header.
- Jonatan Giráldez started thinking ahead to the final at the half hour mark. Claudia Pina, Leila Ouahabi, and Ana-Maria Crnogorčević came on for Alexia, Mariona, and Lieke Martens, respectively.
- In the 68th minute, Toril swapped Tere for Aurélie Kaci and Olga for Møller.
- The intensity of the game dropped off significantly around this stretch, allowing Madrid to string some possessions together. However, that just meant Asisat Oshoala could get going in space.
- Probably the most interesting talking point from a Real perspective was Toril’s final two subs. Instead of introducing Kosovare Asllani and Marta Cardona for what would most likely be their farewell, he replaced Sofie Svava with Kenti Robles and Maite Oroz with youngster Paulo Partido. The fans knew that they were probably traveling all this way to see a loss. They were there to give a farewell to the likes of Kaci, Babs, Asllani, and Cardona. Madridistas would still get that chance after the final whistle, but this wasn’t the send off that they envisioned.