Barcelona ‘learned a lot’ from 2019 Champions League final defeat

    Barcelona thrashed Chelsea in the Women’s Champions League final two years after they themselves had been on the receiving end of similar punishment from Lyon, having used that chastening experience in 2019 as an invaluable learning curve.

    The 4-0 winning margin in Gothenburg set a new record for a one-off Women’s Champions League final, with Barça relentless from the very start against Chelsea, who were shell-shocked by the opening goal in the first minute and never recovered as the Spaniards swarmed all over them.

    Barcelona controlled the 2021 final from the first minute
    Barcelona controlled the 2021 final from the first minute | David Lidstrom/Getty Images

    Seven of the team that started the final against Lyon in 2019, when Barça were crushed 4-1, also started this season’s final against Chelsea, marking an incredible journey of development.

    Shanice van de Sanden, a three-time Champions League winner with Lyon – including in 2019, had an inside track on that journey from Netherlands teammate Lieke Martens, whose looping effort against the crossbar in the first 30 seconds directly led to the opening goal.

    “I spoke a lot with Lieke Martens in the lead up to this game and she told me how the Barcelona team learned a lot from that final,” Van de Sanden said at UEFA Together #WePlayStrong.

    “[2019] was their first time reaching that stage of the competition, and you need to have that experience. Barcelona have always been good – but now they are almost perfect.”

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    Alexia Putellas and six other Barcelona players started both the 2019 and 2021 finals
    Alexia Putellas and six other Barcelona players started both the 2019 and 2021 finals | VI-Images/Getty Images

    Just reaching the final alone had been an achievement in itself for Barça in 2019, representing Spain and Southern Europe at the elite level when the power base of women’s European football has long been held in France, Germany and, before that, Scandinavia.

    England forward Toni Duggan was in the Barça team in 2019 and this season witnessed her ex-colleagues use that short-term setback to their longer-term advantage.

    “When I was in the final two years ago playing with Barcelona, the club knew that was just the start for them,” Duggan explained. “This year in the final we’ve seen such a different Barcelona side.”

    For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

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