Barcelona defeat Wolfsburg with all eyes on the UWCL final

Alexia Putellas of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring.
Alexia Putellas of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring a penalty during the UEFA Women's Champions League semifinal against VfL Wolfsburg on April 22, 2022. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

In front of 91,648 spectators, Barcelona thrashed Wolfsburg 5-1 for the first time in recent years — banishing the “evil” that kept the Germans undefeated.

For the Culés, this was a moment of redemption after losing 1-0 in a UWCL semifinals knockout game back in August 2020 against guess who, Wolfsburg.

The Wolfinnen’s fans’ treble dream was left in sorrow since they will need a miracle in the second leg in order to overturn the devastating first game’s result.

While Wolfsburg are the frontrunners in Bundesliga and the German Cup final, their dreadful game against the Catalan squad vanished almost every chance of completing a historic treble.

Another record-breaking attendance

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Over 91,500 spectators watched Barcelona extend their extraordinary winning run to 45 games in all competitions. This time, Camp Nou welcomed 95 more fans than when a crowd of 91,553 people attended the Barcelona win against Real Madrid in March.

“I think that within days, or even years we will be a little more aware of the magnitude, and how special it is to experience a day like this,” midfielder Patri Guijarro told Reuters, commenting on this remarkable milestone for women’s football.

You could barely hear the referee’s whistle due to the fans’ roars. The energy coming from the stands certainly gave extra fuel to the home team.

“Having been part of this record and having played at the Camp Nou, we take it with us. It has been an experience that will mark us,” said Wolfsburg’s coach Tommy Stroot.

Meanwhile, Stroot’s team was feeling great pressure, something that was quite visible. The score could easily be a lot worse for Wolfsburg, whose performance was below par for the current season.

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Schult’s heroics

The “She-Wolves” had goalkeeper Almuth Schult and a fairly big portion of luck to keep the scoresheet at just four conceded goals by halftime. The German goalkeeper had to pull off some great saves to keep the score to the ground.

In the 19th minute, Schult saved her team from an own-goal when Rolfo’s low pass found Hendrich’s leg before Schult made the save.

Again, in the 54th minute, Schult stood her ground and stopped Aitana Bonmati from doubling her goals in a one-on-one situation.

In the 74th minute, Pina’s shot from close range tested Schult’s reflexes as it bounced off her hands to the goalpost.

But Schult’s biggest saves came against Oshoala when the Nigerian forward made two attempts in the final ten minutes.

Wolfsburg’s tactics and slow build-up

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Barcelona can be tricky to defend against, something that everyone who watched the game witnessed.

“Today, we lacked courage,” the 33-year-old Wolfsburg coach said. “The problem is that if you give Barcelona two meters, you give them time to find gaps” he added, as it was clear what happened.”

All game, the Catalan side was able to get passes across the german team’s defence. All four goals that came through open play were subject to either personal mistakes or exploited open spaces.

Putellas, Bonmati, Rolfo and Hansen were able to cut through the centre back duo of Hendrich and Janssen, who were no match for their pace, skills and power.

Wolfsburg was also slow when it came to their build-up game. Most of their passes were sloppy and “easy prey” for the legs of their opponents. Moreover, their defensive midfield duo of Lattwein and Popp was impossible to halt passes or even match the robust health of their opponents.

Tabea Wassmuth, who was the UWCL leading scorer before the game, was hopelessly alone on the attack. And she barely got her feet on the ball.

The midfielder’s poor feeding was the primary reason for her bad performance. After all, she had to mostly run after hopeless long balls. Her assist to Roord’s goal was her sole highlight.

Jill Roord, who celebrated her 25th birthday with the only goal scored by the “She-Wolves” last night, was the only bright benchmark for Stroot’s side.

Barcelona is on the verge of greatness

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The Culés performance against Wolfsburg could be a subject of examination in coaching and football seminars.

With the second leg less than a week away, Stroot fairly called for Barcelona to “plan their trip to the final.” As he added, “before the match they were favourites, next week it is quite clear that Barca can already plan their trip to the final.”

It is understood why the 33-year-old coach is feeling pessimistic about the rematch. Barcelona is a well-oiled goalscoring machine, and inside a full capacity stadium they woke up memoirs from a great squad. They look like final boned, but there is more after that.

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Almost one month ago, Rolfo was asked if her team could repeat Lyon’s five consecutive Champion Leagues final wins. “That’s not something we talk about, but I have to say that’s possible,” she answered the Guardian.

They might have to play Lyon in the final — a rematch of the 2019 final — to get the trophy. With Putellas in tremendous form, Jonatan Giraldez can only dream of greatness for his team.

Tommy Stroot’s words about the second leg say it all: “I hope some more people decide to go into the stadium for the second leg because they will be able to see the world’s best female football team.”

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