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Never forget your first

FC Barcelona Femeni sends cohort of team players to represent their countries, Spain shine while ready to face France, Netherlands knotted up and out of competition

Athenea del Castillo of Spain (Left) fights for the ball while on the floor versus Dominique Jansen of the Netherlands (Right) / Google Images

Roses are red. Violets are blue. If you play for the opposition, Aitana Bonmatí will most likely score on you. Even with the help of Barcelona’s very own Esmee Brugts, the Netherlands women’s national team, affectionately known as “Oranjeleeuwinnen” (Orange Lionesses) could not hold back the striking force and fantastical fright of Spain’s sheer power. The inaugural UEFA Women’s Nations League final will be held on Wednesday, February 28th between France and Spain at 19:00 local time. After that, a 3rd place bronze medal match contesting Germany and the Netherlands is to be won one hour and forty-five minutes after the final kicks off, at 20:45 local time. Both finalists France and Spain endured trials and tribulations including takedowns, tackles, tight turns, tough situations, and trying their best to triumph. In the end, only two remain. And for an initiation year of the UEFA Women’s Nations League, the standards set and quality of play have been pronounced very highly.

Jenni Hermoso, Ona Batlle, and Aitana Bonmatí all have more than one thing in common. First, all three women scored a goal each in a vital semi-final between the hands of Dutch goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar. Second, all three women proudly represent or represented FC Barcelona in club competition for many years. The Blaugrana way is truly shining bright. Once kickoff commenced, straight away and off to the races Spain scored within 45 minutes not once but twice utilizing effective and quick ball movement, tiki-taka tactics, and a classic formation of 4-3-3, head coach Monste Tomé still has yet to make her mark with a major tournament and/or title won with Las Rosas. The Netherlands saw the return of record-breaker Vivianne Miedema and experience of veteran Sherida Spitse, but could not capitalize on opportunity and 90 minutes just wasn’t enough time to come back. Hence, after a 3-0 defeat away from home, the Orange Lionesses meet sixth world ranked Germany, who are still finding their form after major managerial changes due to lack of success at the 2023 World Cup. During that time Esmee Brugts will surely make FC Barcelona proud as always.

For all four teams, perhaps more important than a medal in the UEFA Women’s Nations League is an opportunity for a ticket punch into this summer’s Olympics. And right now the only guaranteed entry is for España through the UEFA Women’s Nations League. Speaking of firsts, Spain have never qualified for a women’s football Olympics tournament, much occasion to celebrate all at once. On the other hand, astoundingly, as play rolled out late last year, defending European champions England (including Barcelona’s Keira Walsh and Lucy Bronze) failed to qualify and will not be showing their faces anywhere around France come July. Unsimilarly, France automatically qualified for the Olympics as a perk of being the host nation for the world. Their talent is not to be something taken for granted, and Spain need to be all in for a victory that won’t come easy. Culers lead the way, and we all follow. Until next time, when an inaugural UEFA Women’s Nations League champion is crowned.

The Final / UEFA