Salma Paralluelo against Elisa Bartoli, in the match between Rome and Barcelona.ALBERTO LINGRIA (REUTERS)

Barcelona left their mark at the Olimpico in Rome. In the debut of women’s football at the mythical Italian stadium (39,454 spectators, a record attendance in Italy), Barça did not fail in the Champions League (0-1) in the first leg of the quarterfinals. This time, however, there was nothing left. Sometimes imprecise, sometimes anxious, the Catalans collided with a well-crafted and uncomplex Roma, but above all courageous to corner Barça. The Italians lacked trade. Exactly what Barcelona have in Europe, finalists in three of the last four editions.

Roma also like to have the ball. A virtually forbidden pleasure when faced with the Catalans. The capital draw symbolizes the Italian federation’s commitment to football played by women in the transalpine country. In 2020, after licenses reached 30,000 —in 2011, they were 10,000—, it was decided that the league should be professionalized. This season has finally paid off. After an investment of around 18 million euros in the last three seasons, today the minimum salary for a football player at Calcio is 26,000 euros —in Spain it is 16,000—.

Roma capitalized like no one else on the federation’s commitment and, for now, managed to dethrone Juve, champions of the last four leagues. Today, Roma rule Serie A and are the only Italian team to remain in the Champions League. Looks like it won’t be for long.

In any case, Roma surprised in the group stage of the Champions League. They finished second in group B, one point behind mighty Wolfsburg. However, despite having continued with the investment – in the winter he signed with former Barcelona Vicky Losada – the tie played with his luck in the quarterfinals: Barcelona. Unchallenged leaders in Spain, the Catalans are seeking revenge in Europe after failing to defend their title in last year’s final in Turin against multiple champions Olympique Lyon. Barça lost Martens and Hermoso, yes; but opted for Bronze, Walsh, Rabano, Vicky López and Salma Paralluelo. Two European champions with England, more than one of Spain’s most famous footballers. Always waiting for Putellas – he ruptured the cruciate ligament in his knee in June last year – there is no one to move the Englishman from eleven, while Paralluelo, gold at the European Youth Olympic Festival in the 400 meters hurdles, takes his speed by a walk in the Champions League.

In her debut in the European Cup, however, Paralluelo showed that she is much more than a sprinter. When Barcelona failed to find the formula to unblock the duel, Patri Guijarro handed the ball to the door of the croissant. And the Barça striker, as if time had stopped, placed the ball as smoothly as he was precisely on César’s right crossbar. The goal brought peace to the Catalans. Neither Guijarro nor Aitana controlled the playing times in midfield, much less Walsh, while Carolina Graham Hansen’s impressions were repeated, especially Oshoala. Barça then carried the game on the left flank to take advantage of the Paralluelo electric. Barcelona’s blistering pace in Spain (98 goals in 22 games) and in the Champions League (29 in the group stage, competition record) lost its ferocity at the Olimpico in Rome. Anyway, it was enough for him to win by the minimum.

Merit of chameleonic Rome. An offensive team in Italy, the Roman team forged a defensive web that was difficult for Jonatan Giraldez’s girls to interpret. Roma did not fail without the ball, nor were they frightened by successive Barcelona attacks. On the contrary, they patiently waited for their opportunity. And they had. But when Sandra Paños didn’t anticipate it, Giacinti’s goal failed. Roma then changed the game plan and sent former Barcelona captain Vicky Losada onto the pitch.

Barça, who have a bigger wardrobe, responded with Geyse, Engen and Crnogorcevic. The Barça team did not change its strategy. Turns out he didn’t gain gunpowder from the attack either. And surprisingly, he latched on to Paños to defend the victory. It got to him.

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