Alexia Putellas, winner of the Ballon d’Or, and her teammates from the Barcelona club have a date marked on their calendar. On March 30, when they will play in front of the fans at the Camp Nou for the first time.
And as if that were not enough, they will do so against Real Madrid in the Women’s Champions League.
But first, Barcelona will look to land a first blow against Madrid in the first leg of their quarter-final in the Spanish capital on Tuesday. Then it will be time to finally hear the rumble in Europe’s biggest football stadium, in the second leg.
“She has dreamed of it all her life since she was very little,” Putellas commented. “I think it comes at a perfect time… It was a matter of time before this would happen. And it’s also going to be a matter of time before it becomes commonplace.”
Barcelona is trying to defend its first European title, which it won last season by beating Chelsea 4-0 in the Champions League final. Putella’s goals and leadership also helped her club sweep the Spanish League and the Copa de la Reina, earning her the Ballon d’Or and several other individual accolades as the best soccer player in the world.
The Barcelona women’s team usually plays at home in a much smaller stadium, the Johan Cruyff Stadium. Although the Camp Nou can receive up to 99,000 fans and is located in Barcelona, the Johan Cruyff Stadium barely has stands for 6,000 people who make the trip to the Barça team’s training academy on the outskirts of the city.
After years of slowly building support for the club to open Camp Nou for its women’s team, Putellas and her teammates were given the chance to play there in January 2021. But back then, Spain had imposed health restrictions due to the pandemic, which included prohibiting the presence of fans in football stadiums. That’s why no one celebrated there when Putellas scored the first goal by a Barcelona player at Camp Nou to usher in a 5-0 thrashing of crosstown rivals Espanyol.
Here’s a look at the rest of the matchups in the quarterfinals:
BAYERN MUNICH vs PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
Both teams are still aiming for their first Women’s Champions League title. PSG have been runners-up twice, most recently in 2017. The defending French league champions shone in the group stage with six wins, 25 goals scored and none conceded. Bayern’s best performance in Europe’s top tournament was in the semi-finals. The series starts on Tuesday in Munich.
JUVENTUS vs. LYON
This has everything to be a classic lopsided clash with seven-time champions Lyon eager to regain their crown, but Juventus should not be ruled out. The Italian side surprised everyone by advancing from the group stage – leaving Chelsea behind in the process. They had never come this far in the tournament and on Wednesday they meet in Turin.
ARSENAL vs. WOLFSBOURG
A match between former European champions, both teams with a scoring nose. The north London club were champions in 2007. The Germans won the Women’s Champions League in 2013 and 2014. They meet in London on Wednesday.