For the last several years, FC Barcelona has been steadily building its girls’ and women’s football program. The efforts of the players and staff began to bear noticeable fruit in the form of silverware for the women’s first team, with victories last season in the Copa de la Reina and the Copa Catalunya. This year, the results have been even more impressive, with League championships for the Women’s senior team, the Juvenil A Cadet squad, and the Infantil Aleví team. Learn more about the senior team and their season, as well as the other three blaugrana Femení teams after the jump.
Earlier in the season, FC Barcelona’s official site profiled the players, with the help of coach Xavi Llorens, who characterized the outstanding features of each member of his squad. Theirs is a team made up of Spanish, Argentine, and Mexican internationals, with players of many different ages and levels of experience. All the players combine their love of football, fighting tirelessly every week, with work or studies, “because there is a salary limit and they can’t live [just] from football.” Meet the 2011-12 Spanish League Champions:
Elixabete Sarasola Nieto: At 20 years old, she is one of the keepers of the team. Xavi describes her as a “secure and agile” goalkeeper. From San Sebastián in the Basque Country, she arrived at the blaugrana club ahead of the 2009-10 season, when she was only 18.
Laura Ràfols Parellada: The other keeper for the femení is a player “committed to the Club, who is well positioned between the posts and who is responsible.” She started playing football at only 5 years of age with Atlètic Vilafranca, and at 14 joined Barça.
Ana María López Escribano, ‘Ani’: Ani is the captain of the team, a position she won through her hard work: “She is the captain, in every sense,” explained her coach when asked about Ani. The blaugrana defender was born in 1981.
Laura Gómez Gutiérrez: The defender is “all character and enthusiasm”. Laura started her football career with CD Zarautz, until she was signed by Real Sociedad and, later, by the blaugrana.
Leila Ouahabi El Ouahabi: Leila Ouahabi has played with Spain’s U-19 team and participated in several months of qualifying for the European Championships. For Xavi Llorens, this young player, who is only 18, “has an amazing future ahead”.
Melisa Nicolau Martín: This Mallorcan defender has a good track record: two League titles and a Copa de la Reina. She signed for Barça in 2010, and Xavi describes her as a player with “commitment and character”.
María Victoria Losada Gómez, ‘Vicky’: Vicky plays as a midfielder with the blaugrana’s Femení A squad, and has been called for Spanish national team duty on several occasions. This player stands out for her “quality and intelligence“.
Marta Unzué Urdániz: Marta Unzué is a player from Pamplona who left the youth ranks of Osasuna to come and play with FC Barcelona. She is a “responsible and serious” person, as described by her coach.
Montserrat Tomé Vázquez: Montserrat Tomé arrived at Barca in the summer of 2010, from Levante, and also played in various teams at Oviedo Moderno. Xavi Llorens defines this midfielder as a “veteran” and “knowledgeable”.
Carol Férez Méndez: This player from Sabadell was the top scorer for two seasons with the reserve team. At 20, the forward is “flashy, but with quality“, according to her coach.
Olga García Pérez: “The goal and the strength” of the team is only 19 years old, but she already has an important role in the squad. It was she who scored the winning goal in the final of the Copa de la Reina in 2011.
Melanie Serrano Pérez: Melanie is 22, and her coach points to her “pure quality with the left leg”. This player also has been called up several times to the Spain national team.
Marta Corredera Rueda: The blaugrana forward has featured on occasion for the Spanish national team. For Xavi Llorens she brings “speed and professionalism” to the team.
Alba Aznar Martí: The trainer of the women’s first team knows that this player will go far: “She is all electricity and has an important future ahead”. She’s played with the U-18 and U-19 teams of Spain.
Sònia Bermúdez Tribano: Xavi Llorens has only words of praise: “Goals, quality, leadership, at the front she is the best Spanish player“. Sònia has been called up numerous times to the Spanish national team.
Miriam Diéguez: Miriam is “responsible“, a “leader“, and is “competitive, a crack“, says her coach. This player has also featured with the women’s national team on occasion.
Laura Gutiérrez Navarro: Laura has played several times with Spain’s U-18 squad, and also won the U-17 European Championship with Spain in 2010 and 2011. This player, only 17, has “a lot of quality, with a bright future,” explains the coach of the Femení blaugrana.
Ludmila Manicler: The player from Argentina is an international with the Argentina women’s national team. Xavi Llorens considers the forward to be “aggressive, with ambition, fight, she is all personality“.
María Florencia Quiñones: Flor won her first title with Barcelona in 2011, lifting the Copa Catalunya. She also plays for the Argentina national team. For the Barça coach, she is “a character, competitive, generous, a tireless worker“.
Vaitiare Kenti Robles: The Mexican defender arrived at FC Barcelona in 2011, after having played with Espanyol from the age of 14. She is “speed, excitement, and youth“. She also plays for the Mexican national team.
One of the key factors impacting the quality of the team has been the number of prominent players joining the blaugrana the past two summers. “In terms of the budget for signing players, things haven’t changed greatly. The difference now is that players want to come to Barça,” says coach Llorens.
The program and the coach
Vastly experienced, coach Xavi Llorens was a futsal player for Barça in the 1980s and has coached a number of the youth teams of the Club. In fact, Llorens was the first youth team coach of Leo Messi and also worked with players like Iniesta, Xavi, Valdés, Bojan, Capel, and Jordi Alba.
Llorens has been in charge of the women’s first team for six years. As for his appointment, the coach told UEFA.com that “for 17 years I was training children in the youth categories. José Ramón Alexanco – who was then in charge of the youth set-up – spoke with me and mentioned that I should take charge of the women’s side. He said there had to be changes and that if at the beginning the team went down it didn’t matter.
“I started completely from scratch. We dropped down a division but then came back up and based on that we could see where we were going wrong. Little by little we began to resolve [the problems] until we arrived at where we are today. The best part of the whole process was that we always had the support of the board of directors.”
The program has been notably growing in recent years, first under Joan Laporta and for the last two years under president Sandro Rosell. “The hard work started in the era of [former president] Joan Laporta and since the new board have come in we’ve received another helpful push despite the fact we were already doing well.”
Speaking about his current post, Llorens noted: “It’s 23 years that I’ve been a coach at Barça, I’ve trained both boys and girls. For me, working with the Femení [team] is a joy, a reward, I’m enjoying [working] with the girls. The margin for improvement is much larger with the women than with men’s teams, because the boys are accustomed to playing at the highest level and there are few things to improve, but with women’s football, there are more chances to advance and improve.”
Regarding the similarities between the women’s and men’s team, the coach emphasizes that the Club’s ultimate goal is to keep the playing style the same: “The priority given to me upon my arrival is to try to create a game with the seal of Barça; I come from a philosophy with the kids, which is the same as we want to establish in women’s football. To capture the public we have to play good football, with a few of the hallmarks that have marked the Club’s style for many years. Both the boys and girls try to play with a 4-3-3 with a lot of mobility, many touches [of the ball], a defense that can play the ball out of the back, a midfield that combines well and some vertical movement.”
For the women’s senior team, the season started with a trophy, specifically the Copa Catalunya, with a 1-0 win in the final against Espanyol, thanks to a goal by summer signing and Spanish international Sonia Bermúdez (27). This was Barça’s third consecutive Copa Catalunya title. The victory was just a sign of things to come in the League, called the Women’s Super Liga, where the women put in a strong showing all season.
The League season:
Round 1: FC Barcelona 3-1 Collerense
Starting XI: Eli, Kenti, Meli, Ani, Lau, Marta, Olga, Míriam, Sònia, Vicky, Alba
Goals: 1-0 Vicki, min 16; 1-1 Tania, min 26; 2-1 Olga, min 57; 3-1 Vicky, min 70
Round 2: San Gabriel 0-1 FC Barcelona
Starting XI: Ràfols, Lau, Meli, Ani, Melani, Marta, Corredera, Míriam, Vicky, Sònia, and Olga
Goal: 0-1 Olga, min 18
Round 3: FC Barcelona 3-2 Rayo Vallecano
Starting XI: Ràfols, Lau, Meli, Ani, Melani, Marta, Corredera (Alba, 50′), Miriam, Vicky (Montse, 75′), Sonia, Olga (Kenti, 70′)
Goals: 1-0 Soni, min 7; 2-0 Corredera, min 37; 3-0 Corredera, min 42; 3-1 Pili, min 75; 3-2 Natalia, min 87
Round 4: Levante 0-2 FC Barcelona
Starting XI: Zarazola, Lau, Meli, Ani, Melanie (Alba, 60’), Montse, Corredera (Leila, 76’), Míriam, Vicky (Onzué, 68’), Sònia, Olga (Kenti, 60’)
Goals: 0-1 Sònia, min 15; 0-2 Montse, min 56
Round 5: FC Barcelona 7-0 Lagunak
Starting XI: Sarasola, Unzue, Montse, Ani, Melani, Vicky, Corredera, Míriam, Luismila, Sònia, Olga
Goals: 1-0 Sònia, min 13; 2-0 Ani, min 16; 3-0 Corredera, min 26; 4-0 Sònia, min 58; 5-0 Olga, min 61; 6-0 Sònia, min 83; 7-0 Carolina, min 90
Round 6: El Olivo 1-4 FC Barcelona
Goals: 0-1 Míriam, min 12; 0-2 Sònia, min 15; 1-2 Ana, min 38; 1-3 Olga, min 70; 1-4 Sònia, min 73
Video of highlights from their first six games:
Round 7: Atletico Madrid 0-1 FC Barcelona
Starting XI: Rafols, Lau, Meli (Guti, 51’), Ani, Melani, Marta, Olga (Alba, 75’), Miriam, Vicky, Sonia, Corredera
Goal: 0-1 Sonia, min 43
Round 8: FC Barcelona 8-0 Malaga
Starting XI: Sarasola, Lau, Marta, Ani, Melani (Leila, 60’), Montse, Corredera (Carol, 50’), Miriam (Guti, 50’), Vicky, Sonia (Luli, 60’), Olga
Goals: 1-0 Corredera, min 15; 2-0 Sonia, min 20; 3-0 Miriam, min 27; 4-0 Olga, min 33; 5-0 Olga, min 39; 6-0 Sonia, min 54; 7-0 Carol, min 74; 8-0 Olga, min 87
Round 9: Transportes Alcaine 0-4 FC Barcelona
Starting XI: Ràfols, Lau, Mara, Ani, Melani (Carol, 70’), Montse (Leila, 75’), Corredera (Kenti, 60’), Míriam, Vicky, Sònia, Olga (Guti, 55’)
Goals: 0-1 Sònia, min 12; 0-2 Sònia, min 27; 0-3 Sònia, min 31; 0-4 Míriam, min 79
Round 10: FC Barcelona 2-0 Llanos
Starting XI: Laura Rafols, Lau, Marta Unzue, Ana (Alba 66′), Melani, Gut, Corredera, Miriam, Vicky Losada, Sonia (Luzmila 81′), Carol (Olga 53′).
Goals: 1-0 Carol, min 18; 2-0 Sonia, min 50
Round 11: L’Estartit 0-3 FC Barcelona
Starting XI: Ràfols, Lau (Alba, 70’), Meli, Marta, Melani (Leila, 70’), Guti, Corredera (Kenti, 65’), Míriam, Vicky, Sònia, Olga (Carol, 65’)
Goals: 0-1 Olga, min 14; 0-2 Olga, min 47; 0-3 Kenti, min 70
Round 12: FC Barcelona 8-0 Valencia
Starting XI: Ràfols, Laura (Kenti, 55’), Meli, Unzué, Melani, Montse (Guti, 55’), Corredera (Alba, 66’), Míriam, Vicky, Sònia, Olga (Carol, 66’)
Goals: 1-0 Sònia, min 35; 2-0 Sònia, min 44; 3-0 Marta, min 55; 4-0 Olga, min 58; 5-0 Sònia, min 62; 6-0 Sònia, min 66; 7-0 Vicky, min 71; 8-0 Alba, min 74
Round 13: Real Sociedad 0-4 FC Barcelona
Starting XI: Sarasola, Lau, Mely (Ani, 43′), Unzue, Melani, Guti (Montse, 77′), Corredera (Kenti, 71′), Miriam, Vicky (Alba, 71′), Sonia, Olga
Goals: 0-1 Vicky, min 39; 0-2 Olga, min 49; 0-3 Olga, min 69; 0-4 Alba, min 87
Round 14: FC Barcelona 1-0 Athletic Bilbao
Starting XI: Sarasola, Laura Gómez, Unzué, Ani (Montse, 60’), Melani, Laura Gutiérrez (Kenti, 60’), Corredera, Míriam, Vicky (Alba, 77’), Sònia, Olga (Carol, 89’)
Goal: 1-0 Olga, min 21
Round 15: Espanyol 3-3 FC Barcelona
Starting XI: Ràfols, Laura, Melani (Kenti, 46’), Ani, Unzué, Guti (Ludmila, 46’ [Carol, 85’]), Míriam, Corredera, Vicky, Sònia, Olga (Montse, 78’)
Goals: 0-1 Olga, min 19; 1-1 Willy, min 25; 2-1 Mary Paz, min 33; 2-2 Messeguer, min 63; 2-3 Ludmila, min 68; 3-3 Brenda, min 91
Round 16: FC Barcelona 6-0 Reocín
Starting XI: Eli, Lau, Montse, Ani (Flor, 45’), Melani (Leila, 45’), Guti, Corredera (Ludmila, 60’), Míriam, Vicky (Alba, 50’), Sònia, Olga
Goals: 1-0 Sònia, min 11; 2-0 Sònia, min 16; 3-0 Sònia, min 26; 4-0 Míriam, min 41; 5-0 Míriam, min 78; 6-0 Luli, min 83
Round 17: Cajasol Sporting Universidad 0-3 FC Barcelona
Starting XI: Rafols, Flor, Montse, Ani, Laura, Guti, Miriam, Corredera (Carol, 76’), Vicky (Ludmila, 70’), Olga (Alba, 76’), Sonia
Goals: 0-1 Olga, min 26; 0-2 Sonia, min 51; 0-3 Sonia, min 56.
Round 18: Collerense 1-4 FC Barcelona
Starting XI: Rafols, Florencia (Melani, 62’), Melisa (Robles, 46’), Ani, Laura, Tome (Marta, 62’), Marta Corredera, Miriam, Vicky, Sonia, Olga (Maniclez, 80’)
Goals: 0-1 Vicky, min 6; 0-2 Olga, min 11; 1-2 Rosita, min 24; 1-3 Marta, min 70; 1-4 Sonia, min 87
Round 19: FC Barcelona 3-0 Sant Gabriel
Starting XI: Ràfols, Lau, Meli, Marta (Montse, 80’), Melani (Alba, 50’), Flor (Carol, 50’), Kenti, Miriam, Vicky (Ani, 45’), Sònia, Olga
Goals: 1-0 Sònia, min 65; 2-0 Alba, min 75; 3-0 Carol, min 89
Round 20: Rayo Vallecano 3-2 FC Barcelona
Starting XI: Sarasola, Lau, Meli, Marta (Montse, 70’), Melani (Kenti, 50’), Miriam, Corredera, Vicky, Ludmila (Ani, 50’), Sònia, Olga (Carol, 70’)
Goals: 1-0 Vicky, min 2; 1-1 Jade, min 12; 2-1 Sònia, min 26; 2-2 Chini, min 30; 2-3 Jenny, min 59
Round 21: FC Barcelona 3-2 Levante
Starting XI: Ràfols, Lau, Meli, Marta (Flor, 57’), Melani (Kenti, 70’), Montse (Carol, 45’), Corredera, Miriam, Vicky, Sònia, Olga
Goals: 0-1 Alexia, min 22; 0-2 Andrea, min 46; 1-2 Vicky, min 58; 2-2 Carol, min 68; 3-2 Olga, min 83
Round 22: Lagunak 0-2 FC Barcelona
Starting XI: Eli, Laura Gómez, Marta, María Florencia (Kenti, 59’), Melanie (Leidia, 71’), Montse, Carol (Alba, 76’), Miriam, Vicky, Sonia, Olga (Laura Gutiérrez, 59’)
Goals: 0-1 Melanie, min 28; 0-2 Vicky, min 79
Round 23: FC Barcelona 6-2 El Olivo
Starting XI: Sarasola, Lau (Ani, 85’), Montse (Kenti, 65’), Marta Unzue (Carol, 52’), Melanie (Leila, 65’), Guti, Corredera, Míriam, Vicky, Sònia, Olga
Goals: 1-0 Sònia, min 17; 2-0 Vicky, min 28; 2-1 Anair, min 46; 3-1 Carol, min 75; 4-1 Sònia, min 78; 5-1 Vicky, min 80; 6-1 Sònia, min 85; 6-2 Tui, min 90+
Round 24: FC Barcelona 4-0 Atletico Madrid
Starting XI: Rafols, Unzue, Meli, Ani, Lau (Olga, 57’), Guti, Corredera (Kenti, 67’), Miriam, Vicky, Sonia (Alba, 82’), Carol (Flor, 57’)
Goals: 1-0 Corredera, min 20; 2-0 Meli, min 23; 3-0 Sonia, min 37; 4-0 Vicky, min 45
Round 25: Malaga 0-3 FC Barcelona
Starting XI: Ràfols, Lau (Leila, 75’), Meli, Ani, Melani (Olga, 45’), Marta (Flor, 65’), Corredera (Guti, 65’), Míriam, Vicky, Sònia, Carol
Goals: 0-1 Carol, min 67; 0-2 Olga, min 69; 0-3 Vicky, min 74
Round 26: FC Barcelona 5-1 Transportes Alcaine
Starting XI: Ràfols, Lau (Leila, 73’), Meli, Ani, Melanie (Flor, 62’), M. Unzue, Corredera, Míriam, Guti (Olga Garcia, 46’), Sònia, Carol (Alba, 56’)
Goals: 1-0 Miriam, min 4; 2-0 Míriam, min 34; 3-0 Sònia, min 47; 3-1 Mariela, min 64; 4-1 Ani Escribano, min 61; 5-1 Olga, min 78
Round 27: Llanos Olivenza 0-4 FC Barcelona
Starting XI: Rafols, Laura, Ani (Tomé, 75’), Meli, Melanie (Leila, 75′), Vicky (Olga, 61′), Sonia Bermúdez, Corredera (Flor, 80’), Miriam, Gutiérrez, Carol
Goals: 0-1 Ani, min 28′; 0-2 Sonia, min 37; 0-3 Carol, min 49; 0-4 Olga, min 68
Round 28: FC Barcelona 1-0 L’Estartit
Starting XI: Eli, Lau (Kent, 65’), Meli, Ani (Guti, 59’), Melanie, Vicky, Corredera, Míriam, Olga (Marta, 55’), Sonia, Carol (Alba, 77’ )
Goal: 1-0 Míriam, min 52
Round 29: Valencia 0-2 FC Barcelona
Starting XI: Eli, Lau (Leila, 85’), Marta, Ani, Melanie (Montse, 60’), Guti, Corredera, Míriam, Vicky, Sònia, Carol (Olga, 60’)
Goals: 0-1 Miriam, min 23; 0-2 Sònia, min 42
Round 30: FC Barcelona 2-0 Real Sociedad
Starting XI: Sarasola, M. Unzue, Meli, Ani, Lau, Guti (Kenti, 71’), Corredera, Míriam (Carol, 45’), Vicky (Flor, 89’), Sònia (Ludmila, 81’), Olga
Goals: 1-0 Sonia, min 21; 2-0 Vicky, min 84
Round 31: Athletic Club 3-1 FC Barcelona
Starting XI: Sarasola, Quiñones (Carol, 75’), Meli, Ani, Lau, Unzue, Corredera (Guti, 75’), Miriam, Vicky, Sonia, Olga (Lei, 57’)
Goals: 1-0 Gurutze, min 2; 1-1 Miriam, min 27; 2-1 Nekane, min 36; 3-1 Ani, min 92
Round 32: FC Barcelona 6-0 Espanyol
Starting XI: Rafols, Lau, Meli, Ani, Marta Unzue (Kenti, 58’), Guti (Flor, 59’), Corredera, Miriam, Vicky (Lui, 58’), Sonia, Carol (Olga, 55’)
Goals: 1-0 Sonia, min 1; 2-0 Sonia, min 28; 3-0 Sonia, min 31; 4-0 Carol, min 38; 5-0 Corredera, min 54; 6-0 Corredera, min 58
Round 33: Reocin 0-7 FC Barcelona
Starting XI: Ràfols, Marta (Kenti, 70’), Meli, Ani (Olga, 50’), Melani, Guti, Luli (Corredera, 50’), Míriam, Vicky, Sònia, Carol (Leila, 70’)
Goals: 0-1 Vicky, min 9; 0-2 Luli, min 32; 0-3 Olga, min 53; 0-4 Olga, min 62; 0-5 Olga, min 75; 0-6 Sònia, min 78; 0-7 Leila min 86
Round 34: FC Barecelona 1-0 Sporting Huelva
Starting XI: Sarasola, Lau, Meli, Ani, Melanie (Kenti, 81’), Marta (Guti, 56’), Corredera, Míriam, Vicky, Sònia and Karol (Olga, 56’)
Goal: 1-0 Marta Corredera, min 46
For the first time in the Club’s history, FC Barcelona won the League title, finishing the season with 94 points from 31 wins, 1 draw, and only 2 losses, scoring 119 goals and conceding 19. They’ll enter the women’s Champions League for the 2012-13 season in the Round of 32. Sònia Bermúdez finished the season as the highest goal scorer of the competition with 38 goals, a personal record for the forward. Moreover, the team managed to win all their home games at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper this season.
After the triumph of winning the League, the season ended on a bittersweet note for the team, who were unable to defend their Copa de la Reina title, losing to Athletic Bilbao 2-0 in the semi-finals. The trophy was won by Barcelona’s city rivals Espanyol, who defeated Bilbao 2-1 in the final. Barcelona also managed to make it to the final of the Pyrénées International Women’s Cup, held this June in Andorra, but lost the penalty shoot-out following a scoreless draw against Levante. The runners-up, missing a number of players on international duty (Meli, Miri, Marta Corredera, Vicki, Mari Paz, and Sonia Bermúdez), qualified for the final by beating Real Sociedad 5-0 and Montpellier 4-1 in the group stages, held only one day before the final. Olga Garcia finished as the tournament’s top scorer.
Looking ahead, Llorens speaks clearly about the future: “We have a great squad that works with commendable professionalism, the implications are fascinating. That’s why I think that soon Barça will be the great reference of Spanish women’s football. We aim to win everything.”
For next season, Barcelona currently has the chance of challenging for a unique treble of UEFA Women’s Champions League, UEFA Champions League and UEFA Futsal Cup. According to Llorens, his team will be ready: “We have hope and expectations and the boldness to go to Europe.”
With the chance to feature in the Champions League, and the increased exposure of League games broadcast on television, it seems likely that the fan base will to continue to grow for Barça’s women’s teams, especially with the chance to more frequently watch the team in action.
The other teams
Besides the first team, two of the other three teams making up the female football program at FC Barcelona won their respective Leagues.
LLIGA 2a DIVISIÓ FEMENÍ (ages 16-20)
coached by Joaquim Querol and David Forcat
The women’s B team finished 4th in Group 3 in the Second Division. From the 14 team group, the blaugrana earned 49 points from 26 games (15 wins, 4 draws, 7 losses).
LLIGA JUVENIL CADET FEMENÍ (ages 14-17)
coached by Carlos Tregón and Jordi Garcés
This side won their League title on the penultimate match day of the season with a 2-0 win over Vic in May. The statistics for the team speak for themselves: 27 wins, 1 draw, and 1 defeat. Barça’s Juvenil team also stands as the best offensive and defensive team in the League, with 148 goals scored and only 21 allowed.
Outside of the League, the girls came close to winning the Campionat de Catalunya, losing 2-0 in the final to Sant Gabriel.
LLIGA INFANTIL ALEVÍ FEMENÍ (ages 12-14)
coached by Jordi Ventura and Zoe Garcia
Like the senior and cadet teams, FC Barcelona’s Infantil Aleví team also won their League. The side led by Jordi Ventura and Zoe Garcia finished the season unbeaten, with 22 wins from 22 games. The girls had a spectacular season, concluding with a 10-1 win against Molins de Rei. This was a slim scoreline compared to the 0-22 they put past Santboià, or the 21-0 they chalked up against both Sant Andreu (home and away) and l’Europa. The barcelonistes finished the season with 273 goals scored, only 10 allowed, and 66 points from 66 possible.
Besides winning the League, the Femení Infantil Aleví also won the Campionat de Catalunya, beating RCD Espanyol in a great final that finished 4-3. This latest victory means the team has finished the season is the best possible manner.
Stay tuned to totalBarça next season for more news and results from FC Barcelona’s Femení teams.
Image Credits: Federació Catalana de Futbol, fcbarcelona.cat