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Loss against Lyon in 2019 was game-changer for us, says Barcelona’s Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas

Barcelona Femeni’s domination in Spain and Europe in the 2020-21 season was, to put it in rather simpler words, stuff of legends. In the Primera Division (women’s top-tier league in Spain), Barcelona finished champions with an incredible 33 wins in 34 matches, while lifting the Copa de la Reina de Football (the Spanish Cup) title as well, beating Levante 4-2 in the final.

In the UEFA Women’s Champions League, Barcelona enjoyed a stellar run to the final where the side defeated Chelsea 4-0, thus coming full circle after the Catalan side had conceded as many goals in a final defeat to Lyon in 2019. 

Barca star Alexia Putellas, who had won the Ballon d’Or after an incredible 2020/21 season through which she scored 26 goals in 42 appearances, says that the 1-4 loss to Lyon was the gamechanger and fuelled the team to become the best in Europe a season later.

“Yes. That was the moment when we realised what level we were really at to aspire to win the Champions League,” Putellas replied to a question from the Hindustan Times in a media interaction organised by FC Barcelona. 

“And from there it was a question of time, commitment and work. And that’s why we’re here now defending the Champions League because we earned it. It doesn’t happen overnight, you need time. And it finally came two years later.”

Pressure is privilege

Putellas carries the weight of significant expectations from Barcelona fans and the Ballon d’Or win has further increased the weight of responsibility on the captain. In an interview earlier this year, the side’s former manager Lluis Cortes had said, “I always said to the players, if you don’t know what to do with the ball, pass to Alexia and she will know.” 

Does that pressure ever get to her?

“No, I’ve always said that I ultimately like pressure. I view it as a privilege to have played for so many years at Barça. And that impression is normal. It becomes normalized and you accept it,” Putellas, who defeated fellow teammate Jennifer Hermoso and Chelsea’s Sam Kerr to win the 2021 Ballon d’Or title, told Hindustan Times.

“I don’t know what I’d do without that pressure. I’m sure I wouldn’t be the same. I’m used to it and I like it.”

Putellas also talked in detail about the side’s upcoming documentary, ‘Matchday-Queens Of The Pitch,” which focuses on Barcelona Femeni’s treble-winning 2020/21 season. She said that Barcelona’s incredible season was “immortalized” through the documentary.

“Ultimately, when they started recording that documentary nobody knew how the season would end. Things were on a roll, and we ended up winning the treble. It was the best season in the history of the Barça women’s team. And luckily, it’s all immortalized in the form of that documentary. The documentary goes from January to June. In January we started by losing the semi-final of the Super Cup. I can’t give away any spoilers, but it says a lot how it began and how it ended. What’s important is everything in the middle to turn things around after missing out on another trophy and the way the season ended,” said Putellas.

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