FC Barcelona and Chelsea are set to go against each other in the final of the UEFA Champions League on Sunday. When one hears the names of the two clubs, there is an automatic generation of excitement about the quality of the game. Barcelona Femeni’s Asisat Oshoala insists that the women’s final is not going to be any different than the quality men bring and called on more people to actually watch the game and see for themselves that there’s hardly any difference. This would be Barcelona’s second tryst to win the massive European title while it’s a first for Chelsea.
Lyon are the seven-time and current Champions League winners while Eintracht Frankfurt have won the European title four times. The statistics show how Lyon have dominated the competition for many, many years. However, the wind has been changing and more and more teams have upped the ante, become more competitive, which has led to the evolvement of the game overall.
“For me, the game has improved technically and tactically because three years ago, we didn’t have the same audience, we never had the same setup and everything. It’s changed a lot in the last two years, it’s more competitive now. You see a lot of teams coming up, spending money, bringing up good players, bringing in players to Europe. So, I think women’s football has really evolved in the last two years,” Oshoala responded to a question posed by News18.com during Barcelona Femeni international media conference.
Oshoala was very firm as she said that there was not much difference between how Barcelona Femeni and Barca men play and people should just watch more of women’s football to actually understand that.
“I don’t think there is any difference in the two teams (Barcelona Femeni and Barcelona men). The only thing here is people need to pay more attention and watch more women’s football. To be honest, it is the same tiki taka football and when you analyse the goals and the game, the way we keep the ball, pass it around, the first way here to defend is to keep the ball. This is the theory of the team and what we do here – both the women’s and men’s and even the youth teams,” she said.
Oshoala said the name of the club Barcelona automatically evokes a sense about the style of play and it’s going to be the same for them when they face Chelsea in the final. “You can just expect a proper, normal Barca game and style. We aren’t changing anything, we are working on our team and I’m sure Chelsea are working on themselves. We focus on our game plan. I think it’s just going to be very interesting since both teams have top stars from around the world and it’s going to be an interesting back and forth game. It’s not going to be a boring match, I promise.”
Both Barca and Chelsea have been in excellent form this season as they won their respective league titles. While Chelsea topped winning 18 of the 22 games, Barca remained unbeaten as they took the title, scoring a whopping 128 goals in just 26 matches, having conceded only five. Even as Barcelona’s league title seemed easy, Oshoala maintained that the team’s attitude always remained one of working hard and still trying hard to win each game.
“I am not going to disrespect any team here. Yes we won all our games but some games were really difficult but mentally, we always told ourselves that we want to win every game, every competition. Also going to European football, it’s quite different from La Liga, it’s the mental thing here for us. Just because we are winning in the local league, we don’t go there and have the same mentality. You’re meeting stronger sides who are champions in their own leagues. We win all the games here through hard work. Even when we win, we come to the training and be competitive to our ourselves. We don’t put it in our heads that we are winning the next game anyway. That’s not how you be on top, if you want to remain there, you have to keep up as well. We just want to keep winning more and more and that attitude brought us to the Champions League final,” she stated.
Oshoala also shared that the team’s spirit is on the high side with the way they’ve played this season but they know Chelsea will be tough opponents and when it’s the Champions League final and you want to win, “you have to beat everyone”.
Oshoala’s was the only goal that Barca scored in their 4-1 loss to Lyon in their previous Champions League final in the 2018-19 season. From then to two years later, Oshoala believes the team has the experience and the guile to go one step further this time around.
“Now we have the experience of how the European football is and also how a top game like this is played. I think we are going to be better with our tactics this year, how we go about and play and everything. For us, it was good to be playing the final in 2019 and though we lost, we picked up corrections from there and I think come the game against Chelsea, I don’t think we’ll make the same mistake again because we learnt from the past.
“We’ve played other top European games in these years, we played Wolfsburg, against Bayern Munich and a couple of more games like that. So it’s just about the experience. We are a better team now than we were two years ago. Don’t expect to see the same Barca,” Oshoala firmly said.
14 members of the current Barca squad were also in the squad during their 2019 Champions League final and Oshoala believes that the fact that this squad has been together for so long is only going to be of help. “We have the same team, we just keep getting better. I think that’s really going to help us in the final.”
Oshoala admitted that “it is boring” to not have fans in the stadium for such big-ticket games especially but also said that they all understand the need for the current restrictions. She said nothing changes for the team performance wise because the fans will be cheering from the TV sets and they want to do their best.
In terms of her own contribution, Oshoala stated that her personal style of play is “quite different” from that of the team’s but sometimes, big games against big opponents, a team needs to adapt and evolve with the game and change the style of play and that is where she comes in. “I think I am here because sure I am good finisher, my movements in the box I make sure I time them well. So for me, I can say may be my finishing or my speed may not be the team’s regular style but in some games it’s needed and I bring it to the team.”