Lthe corridors of the photo studio Top Studios of Barcelona become an improvised playing field where a representation of Barcelona players combine photo sessions with the latest news from Nike, the firm that sponsors them, with attention to the media. MARCA shares a couch with Sandra Paños, Mariona Caldentey, Aitana Bonmatí, Patri Guijarro and Leila Ouahabi, five of the 11 Barça players who gathered at the Ciudad del Fútbol in Las Rozas on Sunday at the start of the concentration for the European Championship.
“It’s very positive that we know each other so well. On the pitch we play by heart, with automatisms, we understand each other just by looking at each other. Outside we are lucky to have a very good group of people and we all get along very well. Although most of us are the same, going with the national team is always special”, says Mariona. “We are a very ambitious team and we want to transfer that hunger to the national team”underlines.
We are a very ambitious team and we want to transfer that hunger to the national team”
The Barcelona dressing room is a constellation of stars where this season Alexia Putellas has shone with its own light. “She is the one that has won the awards, but she works like the best and for us she is an example. Soccer is a team sport and here we all win and lose. In the locker room we coexist naturally, nobody looks over the nobody’s shoulder”, resolves Paños.
After a season in which the Catalans have played 45 games and won three titles (League, Cup, Super Cup), one of the fears may be the physical state in which they arrive at the European Championship. “Every season we come to the end with fatigue, but we have had time to rest. staff of the club made a preparation according to the year that we had ahead. For me, the best time of the course has come, where the legs go by themselves and the motivation for what is to come makes you grow,” explains Guijarro.
Spain enters all the pools as a contender to win the European Championship, although Jorge Vilda -the coach- assured that this meant abnormal pressure for the players. “Pressure is part of our job. Each player handles it differently, but I think that at the club we play for and the team we play for, it’s obvious and it’s logical that people ask us for results. We live with it and we get along well,” says Mariona.
We handle the pressure well and it is logical that people ask us for results”
What would be a success and what would be a failure? Bonmatí, as in the field, assumes responsibilities: “Success would be winning the European Championship, I don’t think we should have anything else in mind. We are capable of doing it. Winning the European Championship is difficult, but it was also difficult to win a Champions League and we have won one and reached the final of two others”. “Failure would be to do it worse than in the previous one (quarterfinals). We go with the mentality of going game by game, but with the aim of lifting the Cup,” adds Paños.
Candidates for the title? Names begin to emerge: England, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Sweden… “We have the group of death. In a European Championship any rival can hurt you. That the national teams respect us is good and we have earned it on the pitch, but we don’t think we are better than anyone else,” says Leila, who has just announced his signing for Manchester City.
Winning the European Championship is difficult, but it was also difficult to win a Champions League and we have won one”
That gives rise to talk about the atmosphere they expect in England. “People are getting on the bandwagon and they want to see us. Surely there will be a great atmosphere,” says Aitana. “If there was already one in the Arnold Cup, I don’t want to imagine myself in the European Championship…” reflects Paños.
To the five with whom we share a chat, we must add Irene Paredes, Mapi León, Andrea Pereira, Alexia Putellas, Jenni Hermoso and Claudia Pina. “Since the pandemic, each one has her room. If you plant yourself in a concentration for a month and you don’t have even five minutes to yourself, no matter how well you get along, it takes a long time,” says Mariona. “And how much fun did we have?” Leila blurts out before finishing. This Spain, with Barça DNA, is ready for the European Championship.
Nike’s 50th Anniversary
Nike wants to take advantage of this European Championship to celebrate the 50 years in which the brand has been a benchmark for athletes and sport and hopes to continue being so for many more. This 50th anniversary also represents 50 years of searching for inspiration to achieve a future of sport focused on the next generations. That is, without the past there would be no future. That is why they work on how legacy and the future coexist to always give the best results, a historic commitment by Nike to women in sports and specifically to women’s football.