Here is tonight’s match report from Paul Doyle. That’s all from me. Thanks very much for following.
“I think this is our first game in a very long time. A lot of things could be better for sure, but coming from a couple of months without playing football for a long time, trying to get a rhythm… we don’t expect everything to be perfect. For sure things could be better”
Barcelona’s unbeaten run now stands at 30 after today’s win. We will see how much better they can be on Tuesday.
For Barcelona, that was clearly not good enough, particularly for the team that seemed best poised to produce a surprise or two in this competition. Still, it has been nearly six months since they last competed and that is to be expected from some teams.
Barcelona will face Wolfsburg in Tuesday’s semi-final, which just destroyed Glasgow City 9-1. Needless to say, Barcelona will have to be much better.
Truly, that was quite a heroic effort from Atletico against a team that started the season by destroying them 6-1. Five key players are isolating at home, they had four practice sessions leading into this game after training was suspended for a week and the six new players had just one training session with their new teammates due to travel restrictions. And yet it took 80 minutes to pierce their defence.
Particularly excellent performances for Hedvig Lindhal in goal, Alia Guagni and Aissatou Tounkara in defence. Let’s see if they can take these positives into what is a new era for the Atleti team.
Full time: Atletico Madrid 0-1 Barcelona
It was hard, hard work, but Barcelona nab a late goal to advance to the semi-final. A resolute performance from Atletico.
90 min: Barcelona are still going for a second goal and they looked to have a pretty good penalty shout as Putellas was taken down by two defenders, but it was not given.
90 min: Two minutes of added time.
87 min: Barcelona just had a big opportunity to finish the game. Once again, after ample panicking in the box, the ball rolled out to Hamraoui who timed her late run perfectly and struck the ball well. However, it flew straight towards Lindhal, who gratefully picked it up.
85 min: Atletico now have no choice but to chase after a goal. Laurent picks up the ball on the left and runs at the Barcelona defence, but she is easily dispossessed as Barcelona keeper Panos picks up the ball. Barcelona just have to keep their composure here.
82 min: Almost immediately after the restart, Oshoala is replaced by Aitana Bonmati.
Not the best performance from the Nigerian, who ended her day by flopping on her attempt at an overhead kick, which helpfully rolled straight into Hamraoui’s path for the goal.
GOAL! Atletico Madrid 0-1 Barcelona (Hamraoi 80)
After waves of pressure, Barcelona finally score. After a whipped ball into the box from Hansen, the ball rebounded out for Hamraoui in the perfect position. She made no mistake with a fizzing low drive.
77 min: This battle between Oshoala and Tounkara has been good. This time, Oshoala came up with some lovely skill, dinking the ball around the defender before preparing to leave her behind with her pace. Instead, as both players pushed the other, the referee called a foul against Oshoala. It wasn’t a foul. A fortunate escape for Tounkara.
74 min: The game is starting to open up a little more. Atletico finally got out of the half, only for Hermoso to pick up the ball and take advantage of the extra space. She found Hansen on the right with a beautiful through ball that cut open the Atletico defence. But Hansen’s near post strike was too easy for Lindhal.
72 min: Change for Atleti. Emelyne Laurent replaces Carmen Menayo.
70 min: Now that was a big chance from Barcelona. This time, Hansen picked up the ball in space from the right and whipped in a great cross. Both Oshoala and Alexia threw themselves at the ball but Oshoala missed it completely and, behind her, Alexia sent it into the side netting. Atleti survive.
67 min: Another spell of possession for Barcelona within the final third ends with not much happening. For all the possession they have held today, they really haven’t created too many clear cut chances here.
Atletico then had a rare chance to break, but Jade Moore’s attempted pass to Knaak was not quite good enough.
64 min: First substitution for Barcelona. Mariona Caldentey replaces Lieke Martens, who was really one of the most productive players for Barcelona tonight.
62 min: The Barcelona wave comes again, this time in the form of Martens flitting down the left flank. It looked like Martens was through and would shortly roll in a cross, but Guagni came up with an excellent challenge inside the box. Good work.
59 min: Out of nowhere, a big chance for Atleti too. It was very simple: a long ball from defence found Knaak on the right side of the goal and past her defender. She could have squared the ball to Duggan, who was approaching the box, but instead she blew her strike well over the bar. Not quite good enough.
57 min: Chance! Finally, after nearly an hour, Oshoala manages to get in behind the defence as Hermoso slips in a lovely ball through the middle and sends her one on one against Lindhal. But she shows little composure and sends her low finish well wide of the far post from left of the goal.
52 min: Barcleona are attempting more high crosses from the flanks early in the second half rather than trying to pass the ball into the net. Once again, Martens searches out Oshoala, meets the ball with her head this time, but she fires it wide.
51 min. Goodness. A rare misstep from the Atleti defence as a sliced clearance flies straight into the path of Martens, perhaps the best Barca player on the pitch. Martens dinked a cross towards Oshoala, who was just hustled off the ball by the Atletico centre halves. they survive again.
47 min: Barcelona start the second stanza as they spent much of the the first – deep inside the Atleti half.
Torrejon, who is playing well, found Hansen with a lovely pass on the right flank. After some nice interplay, the ball fell to Hamraoui whose attempt from distance flew well over the bar.
“Anything can happen, including the referee stopping the game before the half is up.” – Claire Balding on BT Sport. Atletico kick off to begin the second half.
It should be noted that the first half ended with the most bizarre piece of decision making so far tonight – the referee, Stephanie Frappart, blew her whistle with the clock at 44:35, still 25 second to go. Everyone looked confused.
Half time: Atletico Madrid 0-0 Barcelona
All even after an extremely resourceful 45 minutes from Atletico.
42 mins: Once again, Barcelona are on the attack. Torrejon picked up the ball on the right flank and whipped in a decent ball, which Oshoala attempted to meet with her head and completely missed. Instead, it touched Tounkara’s arm on the way down and Barcelona players called for a penalty. The referee rightfully shrugged it away.
This has been a decent duel between Tounkara and Oshoala, which Tounkara is winning.
38 min: As well as Atleti have done defensively, they are not holding onto the ball well enough anymore and it keeps on coming back. Barcelona are pushed up into their half, moving forward in waves. Martens in particular are having a lot of fun on the left. How long can Atletico keep them at bay?
34 min: Chance! After the corner, Oshoala chased down the ball on the right flank and whipped it back in. She found Martens perfectly in the box, who brought the ball down and tried to bury her finish with the outside of her right boot. Just as the ball looked to be flying into the net, Tounkara stepped into brilliantly hoof it off the line. Her teammates did the rest, clearing the danger.
Barcelona is getting closer, buts so far Atleti is showing some resolve.
32 min: Barcelona keep on moving forward in waves, but they’re still lacking their fluidity. For example, Oshoala picked up the ball between the lines in an extremely dangerous position, but her touch was extremely heavy and she immediately lost it. The ball eventually rolls out for a corner.
28 min: At the other end, the brilliant Alexia Putellas took her first a strike from distance but it flew straight at Hedvig Lindhal, who easily scooped the ball up.
This has been a really solid first half hour in Atletico kid for Lindhal in goal and it can only build confidence in her team.
26 min: In terms of intensity, this has been a good first 25 minutes from both teams and one of the most energetic players on the pitch has been Atleti’s Turid Knaak. This time, Knaak stole the ball in the midfield, drove at the Barcelona defence then threaded a really nice, simple ball towards Angela Sosa on the right, who should have passed but instead hoofed her strike into the skies.
24 min: First yellow card of the night goes for Atleti’s Alia Guagni, who was about to be left for dead by Martens so she stuck her foot out and gave away a free kick in a threatening position on the left. After some posturing, the free kick came to nothing.
21 min: This has been a quiet start from Asisat Oshoala, who hasn’t seen much of the ball. But after a long spell of possession for Barcelona, Oshoala finally received the ball in space, turned on her heel and flitted up the pitch. This time, she couldn’t get past Aissatou Tounkara and the ball rolled out for a goal kick.
18 min. Atletico are beginning to look more comfortable in possession. A nice move up the middle through Sampedro ends with Knaak picking up the ball in an advanced position and strolling towards goal. The ball got stuck under her feet and rolled out for a goal kick, but another encouraging few minutes for the underdogs.
14 min: After a tepid opening few minutes, this has been a good start. Barcelona are dominating possession as expected, but so far Atletico have looked organised under pressure and have snuck into Barcelona’s half a few times . Given all that it has taken to reach this point, Atleti should be pleased with this start.
12 min: Excellent work from Martens, who sauntered into the box, beat a couple of players and the flicked in a cross towards Oshoala. Atletico keeper Lindhal just got one hand on the cross and bunted it out of Oshoala’s path, otherwise that really could have been the first goal.
8 min A chance! Jennifer Hermoso whipped in a free kick from the right, but not before choreographing an argument with teammates and unsettling the Atletico back line. She found Alexia in the box, who headed the ball straight at Lindhal. However, Oshoala was offside.
7 min: After taking a few minutes to settle down, this has been all Barcelona in possession with much of the action from the right flank. Some lovely interplay between Marta Torrejon and Andrea Pereira eventually yields a free kick from the right.
3 min. Barcelona find themselves deep in the Atletico half, but it comes to nothing with Hansen on the right flank.
It seems that Atletico have actually set up as 4-5-1 tonight despite what the UEFA team sheet says. Barcelona start with a strong 4-4-2.
1 min: After a minute of silence for victims of COVID-19, we are underway. Barcelona kick off in yellow.
The players have arrived on the pitch. Kick off imminent.
Toni Duggan on BT Sport:
“It’s probably been the strangest, hardest preparation for a game I have ever experienced in my career. The girls that we have tested positive, five of them, are regular starters so that’s difficult to call it a team. And then you’ve got new players coming in last minute due to corona rules with other countries. They’ve had one session and now they’re in the Champions League squad.”
Duggan says they have to be positive and they draw inspiration from seeing Virginia Torrecilla, who is currently away from the team due to a brain tumor, training daily in the gym.
So, who should we be looking out for tonight? The scene stealers in the Barcelona squad are so obvious that they have already been mentioned numerous times. Jennifer Hermoso has been scoring for fun all season with 23 in the league, while Asisat Oshoala is also in some of the form of her career after 20 goals in 19 games. Barcelona might just have the best group of forwards in the game and they are so enjoyable to once they start to flow.
Amidst all the coronavirus chaos and the revolving door of transfers in the new season for Atletico, one of the storylines has been the status of Atelti talisman Angela Sosa. However, the 2018/19 player of the season is in San Mames and she will be looking to cause havoc on the left flank.
From an English perspective this is, of course, another significant night for Toni Duggan up front. Back in October, Atletico Madrid vanquished her former club Manchester City to reach the UWCL quarters for the first time in their history. Now Duggan will face Barcelona, another former club, with a semi-final on the line. Last year, she reached the final of this competition with Barcelona before a humbling 4-1 defeat to Lyon.
Interesting decisions to start this important quarterfinal. Atletico boss Dani Gonzalez has opted for an extremely defensive 5-4-1 in the absence of so many of their key players due to coronavirus. That defence will have a hell of a job on its hands today as, according to UEFA, Lluis Cortes has decided on an offensive 4-2-4 with his dynamite front 4 all starting: Lieke Martens, Caroline Graham Hansen, Jenni Hermoso and Asisat Oshoala.
Atletico Madrid XI: Lindhal, Guagni, Tounkara, Van Dongen, Menayo, Strom, Knaak, Sampedro, Moore, Sosa, Duggan
Subs: Jana Xin, Majarin, Chidiac, Leire Pena, Ana Marcos, Laurent
Barcelona XI: Panos, Torrejon, Pereira, Leon, Ouahabi, Martens, Hamraoui, Putellas, Hansen, Oshoala, Hermoso
Subs: Cata, Gemma, Melanie, Losada, Mariona, Patri, Aitana, Crnogorcevic, Gio, Laia C, Jana, Bruna
Barcelona head coach Lluis Cortes in yesterday’s press conference:
“Atlético has significant casualties, it is true, but this team always draws strength from where there is none and it is always hard to compete with them. I don’t expect an Atlético that is going to throw in the towel.“
While we wait for 17:00, there is plenty of required reading ahead of tonight.
Hello! Welcome to our coverage of tonight’s UEFA Women’s Champions League quarter-final between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona. Just ten months after the Round of 16 stage concluded, we are finally back and today’s duel between two bitter domestic rivals could not come under more bizarre circumstances.
Let’s start with the surreal nature of this tie. Eleven days ago, Atletico Madrid announced that five players tested positive for coronavirus, destroying their pre-season preparations in the process. The players who have Coronavirus and will not make the trip are Charlyn Corral, Laia Aleixandri, Silvia Meseguer, Deyna Castellanos, and Leicy Santos – numerous important starters that Atletico will sorely miss.
After many questions about whether Atletico even had enough players for this tie to go ahead, Atleti boss Dani González eventually called on a 17 players squad composed of all 14 available first team players plus 3 reserves eligible for the competition. By comparison, Barcelona have a full squad of 25.
That is only part of the Atletico story as there has also been a complete upheaval on the pitch. Atletico have moved through three different coaches in 2019-20, with Gonzalez arriving in January and still in the process of gelling with his team when the season was suspended before Barcelona was awarded the title. Atleti now return with a completely different team than the last after nine players departed at the end of the season. Atletico have found strong replacements, however, and they will rely on Jade Moore, Emelyne Laurent, Merel van Dongen, Hedvig Lindahl, Alia Guagni and Turid Knaak to hit the ground running in an unfamiliar team.
Atletico Madrid will return to face a Barcelona team that could not have enjoyed a more peaceful, contrasting summer. After an incredible 2019-20 season where Barcelona remained unbeaten and won their first league title in five years by 9 points along with the Supercopa, the team is largely unchanged.
Barcelona continue to have an embarrassment of riches in forward positions thanks to Jennifer Hermoso, Asisat Oshoala, Caroline Graham Hansen, and Lieke Martens, while Alexia Putellas will surely run the show in the middle of the pitch. We’ll see if Atletico has any miracles to produce tonight.