Barcelona crowned UWCL champions after dramatic comeback against Wolfsburg.

Barcelona Femeni are 2023 UWCL Champions

Barcelona Femeni won their second European title on Saturday, June 3, when they played against VFL Wolfsburg in the final game of the 2022/2023 edition of the UWCL in Eindhoven. The Catalan queens, who made their third consecutive appearance in a European final, showed their supremacy with a dramatic comeback after trailing by two goals at halftime.

Since defeating Chelsea in the semifinals, the Spanish side has been deemed favorites to win the ultimate prize in women’s club football. However, it didn’t go as planned for the Blaugrana, as they had to fight their way back from two goals behind to clinch the title in Eindhoven. Barcelona, who last won the title in 2021 when they defeated Chelsea 4-0, lost their crown to Olympique Lyonnais in 2022, when they were defeated 3-1 by the French giants in Turin.

The game against Wolfsburg brought back memories of what happened against Lyon in Turin when Barcelona found themselves behind very early in the game. Wolfsburg striker and top scorer of the tournament, Ewa Pajor, robbed Lucy Bronze of the ball in front of her own penalty area, and unleashed a powerful strike that Barcelona goalkeeper Sandra Panos couldn’t stop even though she got a hand on the ball.

And just like that, Wolfsburg found themselves ahead in the third minute of the game. The Spanish champions took the concession of an early goal in stride, and in response, they grabbed the game by the horn. Launching waves upon waves of attack on the Wolfsburg defense in a bid to find an equalizer. They spurned about two to three clear chances, and Barcelona looked to be in the groove.

However, against the run of play, it was Wolfsburg who went ahead to get a second goal, stunning the Barcelona players and supporters. In the 37th minute of the game, a beautiful cross from the flank found Alexandra Popp, who was never going to miss such an opportunity. The forward headed the ball home, and Wolfsburg gave Barcelona a reason to fear. The cameras picked up the look of dismay on the face of two time Ballon d’Or and FIFA The Best winner Alexia Putellas. The Barcelona captain, who at this point was undoubtedly having flashbacks of what happened in Turin a year ago, looked disappointed and almost in tears as she watched her team go two goals behind in an European final once again. Even the Barcelona fans in the stadium were silenced as the favorites were pushed aside by the clinical Wolfsburg attack.

Shortly afterwards, the referee blew the whistle for halftime, and both teams went into the tunnel with opposing emotions; Wolfsburg looking happy and with bright smiles on their faces, and Barcelona with their heads down, reeling from the disappointment of being two goals behind on a big occasion like this.

Whatever happened in Barcelona’s locker room during the break needs to be discovered and studied, because the Catalan queens came out looking ready and refreshed to kick off the second 45 minutes of the game. Looking bright and sharp on the restart, the Spanish champions fought their way back into the game, and produced nothing short of a magical moment as they scored two goals in two minutes to draw level in the game.

In similar timing to Wolfsburg’s first goal in the first half, 3 minutes into the start of the second half, Patri Guijarro, running late into the box, arrived just in time to guide home Caroline Graham Hansen’s low cutback pass into the roof of the net. 

A moment, a goal, a glimmer of hope, and suddenly Barcelona jerked back to life, players and supporters alike. The Spanish side could now see the light at the end of the tunnel, and nothing was going to stop them from getting there. In the 50th minute, they got the equalizing goal that sent a ripple throughout the world of football. Once again, arriving late into the penalty area, Patri Guijarro latched on to a perfectly placed cross from Aitana Bonmati and headed home from close range. The Philips Stadion erupted, Barcelona fans suddenly found their voice, and the Barcelona bench, including head coach Jonatan Giraldez, could not hold back their joy. 

The scoreboard displayed 2-2; game on! Barcelona had found their rhythm, and they’ve got themselves back in the game. With two goals apiece for both teams and 40 minutes left to play, the stage was set for a dramatic finish. It now depended on who wanted the victory more, and with the flow and rhythm that Barcelona were playing with at the moment, they seemed unstoppable. All of Wolfsburg’s hard work for over 48 minutes was undone in the blink of an eye. It took only two minutes for Barcelona to carve them apart and make a statement of their own.

The wind in Wolfsburg’s sails was taken away as Barcelona kept dominating the game by keeping possession of the ball, as they are used to doing. They wanted it more; the Barcelona everyone knew was now playing the game; they looked unplayable, winning every loose ball, intercepting Wolfsburg’s attack, and keeping the ball to themselves. However, with the introduction of Geyse, Barcelona had one more troublemaker up front, running and winning loose balls in every area of attack. In the 70th minute, she won the ball on the right flank and played it across the face of goal for Mariona Caldentey, who was denied a chance to shoot by her marker. But under pressure from the Barcelona forward, the Wolfsburg defender, in an attempt to kick the ball clear of her own goal, struck the ball against her teammate. The loose ball found Mariona, who was struggling to get the ball out from under her feet; however, Barcelona’s hero of the night, Patri Guijarro, who won the ‘Player of the Match’ award was again in the right place at the right time. Patri toe poked the ball in the direction of the incoming Fridolina Rolfo, who placed a one time shot across the goal and into the back of the net. 

Barcelona were now ahead, from two goals down to one goal up, and that completed the comeback. Celebration all around; what seemed lost had now been recovered, and their grip on the title that seemed loose at halftime was now tighter than ever. They snatched the title out of Wolfsburg’s hands with three goals in the second half.

The Catalans held on, keeping possession of the ball, and the few times they lost the ball to Wolfsburg in dangerous areas, they quickly nullified the threat. They dominated every aspect of the game from that moment on. 

The German side was not just going to give up, and they tried to get a goal to get back into the game. The long throw-ins into the box from Sveindis Jane Jonsdottir proved dangerous every time, but the team in green was unable to get a goal. Soon, 90 minutes were over, but the referee added 7 minutes to the game due to injuries and time wasting. And in the last minute of added time, Wolfsburg got a lifeline, a corner kick, which could be the last kick of the game. However, the contact made on the cross wasn’t good enough, and the ball floated into the grateful arms of Sandra Panos.

And before the goalkeeper could kick the ball, the referee blew the final whistle. Barcelona had won the UEFA Women’s Champions League title again, for the second time in their history. In dramatic fashion, from two goals behind at halftime to 3-2 winners at full time. With rapturous celebrations around the stadium, the Spanish champions had done the impossible, they momentarily stared down the eyes of defeat once again, and this time they prevailed.

Barcelona ended the season in the most beautiful way, and the Catalan queens head back home from Eindhoven as European champions.

You can catch the highlights of Barcelona’s dramatic UWCL win over Wolfsburg here:

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