Beyond the Pitch: Barcelona Femeni’s Battle with Injuries and How It’s Reshaping Their Season

Barcelona Femeni squad missing its key players
PHOTO | X: @BarcaFem // Barcelona Femeni squad missing key players due to injury

Barcelona Femeni ended the 2022–2023 season on a very high note, securing trophies domestically and across Europe. The team’s success was so great that they were named the Women’s Club of the Year at the Ballon d’Or ceremony in October.

The Catalan giants successfully defended their Liga F title and then went on to win their second European crown in history defeating Wolfsburg in a dramatic comeback. These series of success put them in pole position this new season, leaving them no other choice than to defend their titles if they want to remain champions both at home and abroad. Well, if there is any team in the world than can successfully retain their titles, it’s Barcelona.

Heading into the 2023/2024 season with a target on their back, the Blaugrana’s objectives of winning every possible competition has become even tougher than ever. The team has to compete in the Liga F, the Copa de La Reina, and the UEFA Women’s Champions League, and as always, the goal is to win.

With a squad has lethal and daring as the Blaugrana’s, that is not an impossible feat to achieve. However, as the season progressed, the champions have been hit with an injury crisis that has claimed some of their key players. Among them are Fridolina Rolfo, Alexia Putellas, Mapi Leon, Irene Paredes, and Jana Fernandez. These are important players who have carried the responsibility of leading the team to success over the past few seasons. Their absence is a huge loss that leaves a dark cloud hanging on the Blaugrana’s quest for more titles this season.

The aforementioned players are all pillars of Barcelona Femeni’s defense, with the exception of Alexia Putellas, who plays in a more advanced position. Mapi Leon and Irene Paredes have long been the undisputed starters in the backline; however, both have been rendered unavailable for selection due to injury, with the former out on a long-term basis after undergoing surgery for a meniscus tear in her knee.

Mapi Leon in training
PHOTO | X: @FCBFemeni // Mapi Leon is currently injured and unavailable for Barcelona Femeni

Barcelona Femeni however boast of an incredible squad filled with veterans who have acquired vast experience over the years as well as young talents with impeccable abilities who are just coming up the ranks. Hence, the team has been able to deliver positive results while also coping with injuries to important players.

The Blaugrana has been able to handle the loss of players to injuries in every part of the field, thanks to their exceptionally talented and versatile squad depth. We will breakdown each area of the pitch and analyze how Barcelona Femeni has been able to keep their playing style and winning run.


With Sandra Paños and Cata Coll, we have seen Barcelona Femeni field two different goalkeepers so far this season. Barcelona’s choice between the sticks has varied both as a result of squad rotation and repetitive injuries to the latter.

While both keepers are exceptional at ball playing and shot stopping, there is a hidden gem in Gemma Font, who happens to be third choice goalie. As a reminder, Gemma was the one who started in goal for Barcelona Femeni at the beginning of last season while both Coll and Paños were out injured.

With such security in goal, the impact of the injuries on the goalkeeping position is almost insignificant.


This part of the field is where Barcelona is facing the biggest problem right now. As stated earlier, the undisputed starters Mapi Leon and Irene Paredes are both suffering from injuries, leaving the centre-back position at the mercy of other defenders in the squad.

So far this season, the absence of both veterans has seen Barcelona feature Martina Fernandez, Ingrid Engen, and Marta Torrejon in centre-back positions. While all three players are good replacements, none of them started their careers as a centre-back, with the former two being midfielders and the latter a right-back.

While Martina Fernandez is not a natural centre-back, the young defender has made a smooth transition into the defense and, thus, is a perfect replacement in that position. Only 19 years old and playing her first full season in the top flight, the defender has played with brilliance, showing amazing qualities and incredible talent. However, her young age indicates a lack of playing experience that one might find in veteran players.

Martina Fernandez playing for Barcelona Femeni
PHOTO | X: @BarcaFem // Martina Fernandez in action for Barcelona Femeni

While she has been holding up her end so far in Liga F, playing against top teams like Olympique Lyonnais and Chelsea in the Champions League might be too demanding for the youngster. Also, it is important to state that the player needs to be rested and rotated in a bid to manage her playing time and ensure that she is protected from fatigue and injuries.

Ingrid Engen is an entirely different player, possessing an incredible array of abilities that have kept her in the exceptionally skilled and technical Barcelona midfield for years. With the likes of Aitana Bonmati, Keira Walsh, Patri Guijarro, and young Vicky Lopez in the midfield, Engen’s deployment to centre-back will have minimal to no impact on the team’s performance in the middle of the park.

Ingrid Engen in action for Barcelona Femeni
PHOTO | X: @BarcaFem // Ingrid Engen in action for Barcelona Femeni

However, since taking over the reins at the heart of Barcelona’s defense, the Norwegian has been caught out of position a few times. Although none of her lapses in defense have led to an opponent’s goal, the result would be different if the team were up against prolific teams like Olympique Lyonnais and Chelsea in the Champions League or teams with fast, lethal strikers like Madrid CFF’s Rachael Kundananji or Levante’s Alba Redondo.

On the positive side, Engen’s position in defense gives Barcelona the advantage of fielding one more midfielder without having to sacrifice a forward. Her presence at the back as given Keira Walsh the opportunity to leave her role as a defensive midfielder and advance into more dangerous positions for the Blaugrana. As a result of this, the English midfielder has scored two goals in two successive games, contributing to the teams attacking endeavors.

Featuring Marta Torrejon at centre-back is a feat possible only when Lucy Bronze and Esmee Brugts are fit and available for selection. The captain is a right-back with excellent defensive abilities; however, she has been known to get on the scoresheet every now and then, which is expected of a full-back with an eye for goal. Although the 33-year-old has been brilliant whenever she has been asked to play at centre-back this season, she will be facing a difficult challenge when defending against sharp forwards like Ada Hegerberg or Sam Kerr.

Jana Fernandez, who, being a natural centre-back could have easily fit into the Blaugrana’s backline, is also injured, making bolstering the defense a huge priority for Barcelona.


This is the only aspect of the field unaffected by the team’s injury crisis due to the depth of skilled, technical, and exceptionally talented players playing in this position. The depth in midfield is so spectacular that Barcelona can afford to deploy Ingrid Engen at centre-back.

With Aitana Bonmati, Keira Walsh, Patri Guijarro, Claudia Pina, and young Vicky Lopez, the abundance of technically gifted players in the heart of Barcelona’s midfield renders the injury crisis almost irrelevant in that part of the pitch.

Aitana Bonmati
PHOTO | X: @BarcaFem // Aitana Bonmati

Although the loss of Alexia Putellas to injury is huge and massively felt, with the current crop of players available for selection, the performance of the team in midfield still leaves spectators bedazzled every time.

While also mentioning that should the need arise, the likes of Mariona Caldentey, Esmee Brugts, and Bruna Vilamala can easily slot into the midfield with ease and deliver beyond expectations.


Barcelona is a high-scoring team, and this achievement is because of the performance of their ruthless, lethal forwards, firing on all cylinders to score as many goals as possible. Without doubt, Mariona Caldentey, Salma Paralluelo, and Caroline Graham Hansen have been Barcelona’s best attacking trio this season.

Caroline Graham Hansen and Salma Paralluelo
PHOTO | X: @BarcaFem // Caroline Graham Hansen and Salma Paralluelo

The trio has scored 27 goals while contributing 18 assists in only 16 games played in all competitions this season. Note that this incredible statistic include games which Caroline Graham Hansen and Salma Paralluelo missed either due to injury or technical decision.

A point to note is that the trio’s versatility is key to their performance, especially with Mariona Caldentey and Salma Paralluelo playing perfectly off each other’s movements and exhibiting a fluid switch in attacking positions.

While Esmee Brugts and Claudia Pina have also been played as forwards, with both players scoring three goals apiece so far, Barcelona’s frontline is well covered.

While the team is plagued with injuries, the club has stated that recruiting players from other clubs through transfers will be very challenging considering the club’s financial status and the requirements of meeting Financial Fair Play regulations. Hence, the club might have to look inward at its youth academy, La Masia, for reinforcements.

Vicky Lopez scores in El Clasico
PHOTO | X: @FCBFemeni // Vicky Lopez celebrating after scoring a goal in El Clasico

Over the years, Barcelona have seen incredible talents spurn out of the famous academy and the likes of Vicky Lopez, Martina Fernandez, Guilia Dragoni, Lucia Corrales, Julia Bartel, and Ari Arias have already featured for the first team this season.

Many fans and lovers of Barcelona Femeni around the world would hope that a few players return from injury when the team returns to action after the holidays in January. However, if such a miracle fails to occur at the Estadi Johan Cryuff, the baton will be passed onto the young talents, who will undoubtedly relish the chance to represent the Blaugrana colors.


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