his week is one of the most important yet in the career of Andressa Alves.
The forward knows what it means to play at the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ – an experience she will be repeating in France in just three weeks’ time – and has won two Copa America titles with Brazil. This coming Saturday, however, she faces a whole new challenge: playing in the final of the UEFA Women’s Champions League, a first for both her and her club FC Barcelona.
“It’s a dream,” said the Brazil international. “We’ve been training every day for it and it feels very special to have reached the final for the first time in a Barça jersey. I’m so happy.”
The striker made the move to Spain in 2016, her signing a reflection of Barça’s commitment to its women’s team, a commitment that is now being rewarded. “They’ve made a very big investment and reaching a Champions League final is a very big deal for them too,” said the Brazilian. “It shows that it’s worth supporting women’s football, putting the money in and signing players.”
Lyon, a near-perfect machine
Although Reynald Pedros’ side is probably the best in the world, Las Azulgranas have grounds for optimism.
Chelsea made life hard for the French giants in the semi-finals before going down 3-2 on aggregate, while Barça showed plenty of character in holding on against Bayern Munich in their semi despite being a player down in the last 20 minutes of the tie.
If Barça do pull it off on Saturday, it will be a first continental title for Spanish women’s football, all in a year in which it has attracted capacity crowds and record viewing figures.
“Things have changed a lot,” explained Andressa. “The skill level has improved and the profile’s higher too. We have all these fans coming to matches and that’s attracting even more people along. And it’s not just Atletico Madrid v Barça (a crowd of 60,739 watched the league match between the two at the Metropolitano); there’s the derbies in Valencia and the Basque country. Games are on TV too and more people can watch them.”