Barcelona Femení kicked off their European title defense in dominant fashion, beating Arsenal 4-1 at the Johan Cruyff Stadium in the Women’s Champions League group stage opener. Barça were on top from the start and created plenty of chances, scored some really good goals and proved they are still the dominant force in Europe and the favorites to win it all.
Barça were dominant from the very beginning, dominating possession of the ball and forcing an aggressive Arsenal team to defend deep inside their half. The Blaugrana concentrated most of their attacks on the right side, with Aitana Bonmatí and Caroline Graham Hansen constantly combining to create danger and fire shots at goal.
There were 19 attempts from Barça, eight of them on target, and Arsenal had zero shots and weren’t allowed to play at all in the Blaugrana’s half. Barça had two wait half an hour to find the back of the net, but they finally broke through when Asisat Oshoala’s shot from outside the box was saved by Zinsberger and Mariona Caldentey was first to the rebound to score a tap-in and give the home team the lead.
And wth two minutes to go in the half, came the second goal: Marta played an amazing through ball to release Oshoala down the right wing and the striker waited for the right moment to set up captain Alexia Putellas for the second goal.
At halftime, a truly brilliant Barça performance had them two goals ahead with the promise of more to come in the second half.
Barça started the second half by removing any doubt about the result, thanks to a sensational through ball by Mariona to release Oshoala, and the Nigerian showed great composure in front of goal to make it 3-0 just two minutes into the period.
Arsenal showed good fight and did not go down without putting up a great effort for the rest of the half, with three attackers coming off the bench and showing big-time intensity and bringing danger to the Barça defense. The Gunners created plenty of chances and deserved a goal, and they got it when Frida Maanum scored a tap-in after a cross from Tobin Heath.
Barça needed another goal to keep Arsenal from coming back in the game, and Lieke Martens came off the bench to score a beauty as she received a great pass from Patri and chipped the keeper to make it 4-1. There was still a chance for a fifth when Alexia was fouled inside the box and stepped up to take a penalty, but Zinsberger saved the captain’s spot kick.
The final whistle to end a great performance from the champs, who could have easily scored another three or four on the night. This team is fantastic and will once again be favorites for the European crown.
Barcelona: Paños; Marta, Paredes, Mapi, Crnogorcevic (Rolfö 76’); Aitana, Patri, Alexia; Graham, Oshoala (Martens 71’), Mariona (Bruna 83’)
Goals: Mariona (31’), Alexia (42’), Oshoala (47’), Martens (84’)
Arsenal: Zinsberger; Maritz, Williamson, Beattie, Catley; Little, Wälti (Nobbs 71’), Maanum; Mead (Parris 56’), Miedema (Foord 56’), McCabe (Heath 56’)
Goals: Maanum (74’)