Nunca dejes de creer. Atletico Femenino never stopped believing during the 2015-16 season, despite narrowly missing out on a European spot. Atletico Madrid’s ladies clinched its first ever trophy in the Copa del Reina and have used that as a springboard in the 2016-17 season, leading LaLiga on 36 points, one point ahead of Barcelona and Levante.
Last season definitely served as a learning curve, with the team still under construction in terms of the playing squad and just getting used to bulky schedules, which included cold European evenings in Russia and sunny afternoons in the Spanish capital in the space of three days. Moreover, the success in the domestic cup boosted the players to prove that aiming for success was not a punch above their weight, but part of their DNA.
All these experiences served to unite the group and transform them into a mature team, prepared for any situation and prompt to respond whenever they fail. Atleti’s ladies have registered big results in big games this season, most notably the double 2-1 wins over holders Athletic Club and Barcelona.
The changes that the team went through before this campaign have been significant, but undoubtedly, the acquisition from which the team benefitted most was Marta Corredera. Corredera joined Atletico’s ranks later on in 2016 from English side Arsenal, and she has adapted quickly to the tactical system and her service was even pivotal in big games, such as the one against Barcelona, in which she also netted Atletico’s first goal at the Vicente Calderon.
On that particular day, December 11, Atletico Madrid provided a new dimension to women’s football in Spain, hosting the top-of-the-table clash against the blaugrana at the Calderon in a Copa del Reina final rematch. Corredera and talisman Sonia Bermudez jotted their names on the scoresheet to help Atletico leapfrog Barcelona and take charge of the league table. This date was also a certificate of the dedication and the winning mentality that Atleti have been cultivating in recent years, both at men’s and women’s football.
Before then, Angel Villacampa Carrasco’s charges won its first eight from nine fixtures of the season, setting the pace with the other title challengers, which besides Barcelona includes Levante. Holders Athletic Club found it hard to cope with domestic and European level, and are currently in fifth place, without any potential chance to raise the bar and contend for the title. These eight victories included two resounding wins over Espanyol by six goals to nil and a 7-0 result over Tacuense.
The first real test Atletico Femenino passed was on Oct. 30 in a 2-1 win away against the holders Athletic. Yet, despite that bold title statement, Atleti soon lost first place, dropping points away, such as in a 0-0 draw against sixth-place UDG Tenerife Sud. But the win over Barcelona vaulted Atleti back into first and leadership has not been relinquished since.
With Barcelona focusing more on the UEFA Women’s Champions League and Levante lacking the squad necessary to compete for the title, Atletico Femenino look set to challenge for its first ever league title and continue its rise in women’s football.
Atletico will return to action on Jan. 7 against Real Sociedad.