Benfica 4 – 4 Barcelona Femeni | Talking Points

Barcelona Femeni draw 4-4 against Benfica
PHOTO | X: @FCBfemeni // Barcelona Femeni draw 4-4 against Benfica

Barcelona Femeni were caught in an unexpected storm last night in Lisbon as they were forced  to a 4-4 draw by Benfica in the last group game of the Champions League. Contrary to the usual narrative of Barca dismantling their opponents, the champions were on the brink of defeat and were only saved by a late header from Lucy Bronze.

Caroline Graham Hansen, Patri Guijarro and Lucy Bronze were the scorers for Barcelona on the night where an inspired and invigorated Benfica had the Catalans with their backs against the wall.

Here are a few talking points from the game:

The winning streak ends

Prior to the awful showing at Benfica, the Blaugrana were on a 23-game winning streak across all competitions. However, their 4-4 draw last night has seen that run brought to an abrupt end, with the Blaugrana almost falling at the hands of the Portuguese club who played with a bit more passion and were the better side for the larger parts of the night.

The players are fatigued

The lacklustre performance that the Blaugrana put up last night is a completely unfamiliar sight and thus, begging the question “what happened to Barca?”. The team were 2-0 up and seemed headed for another comfortable win before Benfica turned the game around and almost handed the Spanish giants their first loss this season.

From the moment Benfica scored their first goal, Barcelona looked unconvinving and constantly lost possession of the ball, opening the makeshift backline up to an array of counterattacks which eventually saw them concede four goals in the game.

However, less blame could be placed on the Barca  players who have played one or two games more than usual this month. With one game in the Copa de la Reina, two games in the Supercopa de Espana, two games in the Liga F, and two games in the Champions League, Barcelona were bound to suffer from fatigue. The game against Benfica was Barcelona’s seventh game this month and thanks to injury, the same crop of players have been constantly fielded across all seven games. 

A bad day at the office

Complacency kicked in after the second goal and Barcelona started to look like a shadow of their very selves as players repeatedly lost possession of the ball, failed to complete their passes, and were completely on the back foot when they had to mark the opposition.

The team entirely looked confused both in and out of possession as players like Ingrid Engen and Patri Guijarro seemed to have run out of gas whenever they had to chase the ball. Aitana Bonmati was not her usual self either, while Keira Walsh also uncharacteristically lost possession of the ball a few times.

Salma Paralluelo looked isolated on the left flank and barely made any impact on the game. Ona Batlle was constantly caught out of position as the entire team looked like they could use a breather. It was a rough night for Barcelona as a motivated Benfica side pressing high up the pitch, maintaining a high tempo and intensity, and playing in front of their continually cheering home crowd all through the game, continually asked questions of a tired and burnt-out Barcelona side.

With the team already confirming the top spot in their group as well as their spot in the quarterfinals, the outcome of the game had little to no impact on the team’s chances of qualification.

Bitter-sweet night for Bronze

It was atough night for Lucy Bronze, who was one of the few players,who put up an exceptional performance on a night where the team was unconvincing as a whole. Lucy headed the ball into her own goal in a failed attempt to clear the ball on the goal line. Her own goal put Benfica ahead 4-3 leaving Barcelona to scratch and dig deep to get an equalizer.

But ironically and in the most dramatic fashion possible, it was the English full-back, who scored the equalizer for Barcelona albeit with a header. Bronze found the mark in the last minute of added time and forced the game level saving Barcelona from an unprecedented defeat.


Barcelona remain unbeaten

Indeed nothing lasts forever and all good things must come to an end; such was the case last night when Barca drew away at Benfica, thus, bringing an end to their w23-game winning run. However, while the Blaugrana’s winning streak has been brought to an end, their aspirations of ending the season unbeaten still remain alive.

A late header from Lucy Bronze narrowly saved Barcelona’s unbeaten record despite being brought to the cusp of suffering their first defeat this season.

Champions’ mentality

Any other team would have fallen to the pressure and challenge of facing their first loss of the season in a champions league game with little importance. However, the Catalan giants fought to the death under unfavorable conditions and salvaged a point on a night which they will no doubt be willing to put behind them.

Despite losing their two goal lead in the first half, the European queens clawed their way back in front early in the second half. They went down 4-3 in the latter parts of the game, but scratched and clawed their way back to a 4-4 draw showing an incredible fighting spirit.

Barcelona may have been physically bested on the night but their mentality was superior and it helped them hold their heads up high at the full-time whistle.

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