UEFA Womens Champions League Last 16 (2nd Leg)
Petershill Park, Glasgow
Thursday 1st November 2018
Glasgow City v Barcelona Femení
Petershill Park would never claim to be Celtic Park or even Ibrox Stadium but it is the only place in Glasgow that you can watch UEFA Champions League football this season.
Glasgow City have enjoyed a fantastic run in this seasons UEFA Champions League juggling efforts at retaining its SWPL 1 title with midweek efforts in European competition. The clash against the Spanish glamour side brought one of Europe’s top female sides to the north Glasgow suburb of Springburn with live BBC television coverage and a large crowd in tow.
Scottish dreams of a place in the last 8 were though some way off. In truth it was always going to be a tall order for the newly crowned 12-in-a-row Scottish champions who were 5-0 down after the away leg of the last-16 tie. City had found themselves way off the tactical pace in Spain and in truth it could have been more on the night thanks to Barcelona’s passing and movement.
This years final will be played on the 18th May 2019 at the Groupama Arena in Budapest. With full time playing status and numerous international stars Barcelona may well be a participant in the final.
In 2001 the earlier version of the club ‘CF Barcelona’ was incorporated into the FCB sporting model as an official section as the Womens Spanish League was refounded into the Superliga Femenina. Its early years as a club were tough with the league being dominated by Athletic Bilbao and Rayo Vallecano. However between 2009 and 2011 they consolidated as a club in the top positions being completely revitalised by the attachment to its parent club.
In 2011 the club won its second Spanish Cup, beating local rival RCD Espanyol 1-0 in a thrilling final. In 2012 the club won its first national championship with a record 94 points haul but last season finished just behind Atletico Madrid in the title race.
As the club has grown as an arm of FC Barcelona so they have managed to attract top international players from other Spanish teams and international clubs. The club qualified for the quarter finals of the Champions League in the 2013-14 season and in 2017 they managed to reach the semi-final stage.
The current squad is star laden and includes English international Toni Duggan and a host of Dutch, French, Spanish and Brazilian international players.
Effectively the differences in playing squad composition made this clash a David v Goliath match-up. Such are the player differences the defence for City currently includes a 16-year-old school pupil. She is part of a team that are part time players whom on the whole are school pupils, students and workers. They all jugglea p rofessional level football match and training schedule and all its demands with a normal full time job.
The Glasgow City side meanwhile has been forced to rebuilt consistantly over the last few years with a host of international players leaving Glasgow to try football down south in England. Of the experienced heads still left captain Leanne Ross, Leanne Crichton and Joanne Love have more than 300 international caps between them.
On a cold and typically Scottish evening in Glasgow it was the English player Toni Duggan who scored two goals as Barcelona eased past Glasgow City with an 8-0 aggregate win. Spanish play maker Alexia Putellas added another goal (between the two goals of Duggan) to bring an end to Glasgow City’s successful season.
If the first leg in Spain had been energy sapping for the Scottish side so the second leg followed a similar pattern. Barcelona watched by English team coach Phil Neville passed the ball about at will adapting its possession game to the tighter junior football pitch surroundings.
Reaching this stage of the tournament is a tremendous achievement for Glasgow City. The squad perhaps attained the luck of the draw getting this far with the group stage ‘just’ being negotiated. None the less the heavy defeats suffered by the likes of Ajax and Atleti show the strength the elite sides have in UEFA competition.
As an independent entity with newish structures what City have achieved is admirable even if they were totally found wanting via the Spanish super club. Over the two legs they failed to make any inroads into the Barcelona penalty area but with this run in the UEFA elite competition the team showed again it has the capability to punch above its weight in Europe.
While its domestic matches in the SWPL1 often see them dominating rival teams what possession they had in this game often broke down when they got into the final third of the pitch. Winger Abbi Grant meanwhile was unable to test the visiting goalkeeper and experienced heads Crichton, Love and Ross were unable to control possession.
With the win Barcelona join the likes of Olympique Lyonnais (13-0 winners over Ajax) and Wolfburg (10-0 winners over Atletico Madrid) in the last 8 of the competition.
Glasgow City: Alexander, Ross, Girasoli, Love, Docherty, Crichton, Lauder, Kerr, Ivanusa, Grant, Howat (Subs Used) Cunningham, McLintock, Foley
Barcelona: S. Paños, Gemma Gili, A.Pereira, M. Pilar León, V.Losada, M.Serrano, M.Andonova, P. Guijarro, A.Alves, A.Putellas, T.Duggan (Subs Used) C. Andújar, É. Bussaglia, L. Ouahabi