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This Week in Barça Femení: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Another win brings Barça closer to the title, but bad injury news alter the mood

Levante UD v FC Barcelona - Primera Iberdrola Photo by Manuel Queimadelos/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Barcelona’s all-conquering women’s team took another huge step towards the Primera División title when they traveled to the Basque Country to face Athletic Bilbao. It was a much tougher game than expected, with the home side taking it to Barça from the beginning.

Femení didn’t play their usual brand of beautiful football and needed to work hard for their goals, with Marta Torrejón opening the scoring just before halftime. But in the second half they managed to get some separation, and Asisat Oshoala and Mariona Caldentey found the back of the net to give Barça a 3-0 win, their 22nd in 22 games in the league season.

Barça’s win combined with another Real Sociedad loss increased the Blaugrana’s lead to 22 points at the top of the table with only eight games to go, but with third-place Granadilla having a game in hand which could cut Barça’s lead down to 20, Femení still need four points to clinch the title. Their next league game is against Alavés away from home in two weeks, and they could win the league with three points in that one provided that Sociedad or Granadilla drop points as well.

If that was the only news we got from the week in Femení land, things would be running smoothly as always. But the injury bug decided to bit the squad hard over the last few days, with key injuries all over the place heading into the home stretch of the season.

The first bit of bad news came on Monday when it was announced that star defender Irene Paredes will miss the next four weeks with a hamstring injury. Because of the international break, Paredes will only really miss two weeks of action and should be back in time for the Champions League quarterfinal against Real Madrid, so it’s not really a big deal.

But the next three injuries are huge deals: Jana Fernández, Paredes’ immediate backup at center-back and a player who was enjoying her best run of form of the season, suffered a torn cruciate ligament in her right knee and will miss not only the rest of this season but the start of the next campaign. It’s the second ACL injury for a Barça player this season, with young strker Bruna Vilamala suffering one last November which also ended a promising start to her campaign.

And on Friday we got the news that Asisat Oshoala and Mariona Caldentey, the two second half scorers in last week’s win against Athletic and two crucial pieces of the attack, will miss the next 10 weeks with hamstring injuries suffered while away in international duty.

Mariona had just returned from a lengthy period on the sidelines because of injury and was going to use the next two weeks playing with Spain to regain her fitness, but instead has suffered a worse injury. Oshoala, one of the most consistently healthy members of the Barça squad who was scoring goals for fun in 2022, was injured in training with Nigeria and will also miss time.

If the two manage to return within the 10-week estimate, Mariona and Oshoala will be available for a potential Champions League Final if Barça manage to get there. But it won’t be easy for Jonatan Giráldez to deal with the absences of those two over the next two months. Without them, only Caroline Graham Hansen, Lieke Martens, Jenni Hermoso and Fridolina Rolfö are currently available in attack and must have their minutes managed very carefully to avoid a crisis up front.

Thankfully the league title is already won and keeping players healthy will be more important than a perfect record, so the Champions League can easily be the priority for the coach and the team. But injuries are never fun, and our best wishes go to Irene, Jana, Asisat and Mariona.

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