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Barcelona Secures Copa de la Reina Final Spot After 672 Days

Barca Femeni secure 2-1 victory / Getty Images
Barca Femeni secure 2-1 victory / Getty Images

Barcelona qualifies for the Copa de la Reina final.

Barcelona has qualified for the Copa de la Reina final 672 days after last competing for it. It’s unusual to see this team outside of a final, but last season they didn’t even have the chance due to an ineligible lineup. It was a thorn in the group’s side, and on May 18th, they will fight to reclaim the cup they reign over, with nine trophies in their trophy case, against Real Sociedad.

According to Angel Perez of Mundo Deportivo, the venue is currently unknown. As for the second leg semifinal match against Athletic, it was a smooth victory for a team that didn’t need their best performance to clearly defeat the Basque team. Barcelona’s schedule in the upcoming weeks is daunting, and with a 0-3 lead from the first leg in San Mamés, yesterday was more of a formality to distribute workload, rest regular players, and give playing time to those less frequently seen. Nonetheless, Jonatan Giráldez’s lineup saw only three changes in field players compared to the usual starting eleven. With the return of Rolfö and Alexia, this ideal eleven may soon see changes, but for now, it is what it is. Paredes, Walsh, and Graham started from the bench, while Torrejón, Pina, and Bruna began the match.

Athletic Club had little to lose, playing with the ease and calmness of having nothing at stake, aware that they needed more than a miracle to overturn the tie, as even calling a victory against Barça at the Johan 0-4 a miracle would be an understatement. They aimed to use the experience to grow, and indeed, they displayed an attractive style of football. But that’s what Barcelona does, at least in Spain. Even with Barça not at full throttle and the opponent playing as if it were a Champions League final, the outcome usually leans heavily towards the Blaugrana side.

Mariona Caldentey is another who doesn’t rest, determined to show the world that a girl from Felanitx can be not just one of the best, but the best on the planet. For her, there are no half measures, no ‘friendlies’, no games to catch a breath. The Barça number 9 took charge of the team and in the twentieth minute, broke the deadlock to crush any dreams, no matter how surreal, for the visiting team. She pressed high, regained possession, faced Quiñones, who cleared her first shot but couldn’t do anything with the second attempt. Barcelona controlled but didn’t extend their lead, and the minutes passed with few dangerous chances, such as Salma’s shot that narrowly missed.

As the minutes passed and with no rush for a second goal from the home side, Athletic scored first. Pinedo struck a beautiful shot into the top corner of Paños’ goal to level the game. Alexia was eager for Johan and Johan longed to see his captain back on the field. After returning against Real Sociedad away, the Barcelona captain was missing the reunion with her fans, and it couldn’t have been better. When she entered the field in the 65th minute, the crowd unanimously cheered her name, conveying the affection they’ve always had for her. The match was ripe for a ‘banger’, and Patri delivered. This time the missile came from inside the box, but it was so powerful that it pierced Quiñones’ body to find the back of the net.