Asisat Oshoala Put An Exclamation Point On Barcelona’s Rout
12:31 PM EDT on October 20, 2022
Despite falling to Lyon in last season's Women's Champions League final by an uncharacteristic score of 3-1, Barcelona is still the dominant side in Europe. Through four games in domestic play, Barca has won four (of course), scored 16 goals (that tracks), and allowed only one goal against (yep). On Wednesday, Barcelona played its first game in this season's Champions League campaign, hosting quickly overmatched Benfica in Group D action, and showed once again how terrifying it can be when in full motion.
It took all of one minute for Barcelona to jump out to a 1-0 lead, with Patricia Guijarro latched on to a cutback pass from Asisat Oshoala to open the scoring. Thirteen minutes later, Aitana Bonmati doubled that lead, and off to the races Barcelona went. There are few teams in Europe that can keep Barcelona in check in Champions League play, and poor Benfica is not one of them. Still, though, even with an eventual final tally of 9-0, this kind of dominance from the Spanish juggernaut needs a little extra to be mind-blowing. How do you make this beatdown different from all of the others?
Let's go back to Oshoala to answer this question. The 28-year-old Nigerian international is one of the best strikers in the world, so it's not particularly shocking that she scored a brace during Wednesday's proceedings, as well as notching two assists. What was noteworthy is how she scored her first goal: Following an exceedingly poor clearance from Benfica defender Carole Costa, Oshoala found the ball at her feet roughly 30 yards from goal. She took one set-up touch and, when no one closed in on her, blasted a perfect near-post curler to the very top of Benfica's goal. Keeper Rute Costa had no shot:
Oshoala's second goal was less her doing and more Mariona Caldentey being rude and dribbling Rute Costa into an early grave, but that's irrelevant. On a team as stacked as Barcelona, everyone will get their chance to shine. Though there were nine goals scored on Wednesday, they came from seven different players: only Oshoala and Geyse scored two. This team spreads the love around and is all the stronger for it; how do you prepare against world-class players up and down the field? The short answer is that, barring a side as good as Lyon hitting on all cylinders for 90 minutes, you just can't.
Even with the injury absence of captain and best player in the world Alexia Putellas, Barcelona has not missed a beat, doing what it does best in Spain and, now, in the Champions League. That it has a player like Oshoala at the striker role, someone who can score a long-range screamer like the one against Benfica, only reinforces how deadly of a side this is. The crazy thing here is that she's not even a surefire starter on a game-to-game basis for this side! Hell, she didn't even start the aforementioned 2022 Champions League final; that honor went to the now-departed Jenni Hermoso, a star in her own right.
The ability to bring someone of Oshoala's caliber—or Geyse's, or Clàudia Pina's—off the bench at any point and still dominate is what truly has driven Barcelona to the top of the sport. Sure, the Champions League final disappointment of last season stung, and will continue to sting until the side wins the trophy for a second time in its history. But, as Benfica found out on Wednesday, this Barcelona side isn't content with domestic supremacy. It is out for blood in Europe's biggest competition, and it will score all varieties of goals, up to and including absolute stunners like Oshoala's, to get what it so desperately craves.
Soccer et cetera blogger. Don't ask him to stop saying "Pool Boys," he never will.
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