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Atlético Femenino push forward in title defense

Despite a disappointing elimination from the Women’s Champions League, Atlético are still on course in their defense of the Liga Iberdrola crown.

Goalkeeper Lola Gallardo has conceded just two goals in six league games this season.

Atlético Madrid Femenino made history in 2016/17, winning their first league title and beginning to realize an ambition of becoming a dominant domestic and European force. The goals remained the same entering 2017/18, as Atlético have maintained success at home despite struggling abroad.

So far, their domestic run has been a positive one, as they are currently lying joint-first with Barcelona at 18 points. Those two play on Sunday and have already distanced themselves from competitors, meaning it will be all but a two-horse race between the capital club and the Catalan side.

Atlético’s title defense began with a 3-1 comeback win against Albacete, and they have since registered five consecutive wins to claim joint-leadership with Barça.

The other wins included a narrow 1-0 victory over Real Sociedad in their first home game, a 3-0 victory at Santa Teresa, a 6-0 thrashing over former champions Athletic Club, an impressive victory at last year’s title challengers Valencia by a goal to nil and a 3-1 home win over Recreativo de Huelva.

However, their positive domestic streak was marred by their UEFA Women’s Champions League campaign, which ended abruptly in the Round of 32 after competition favourites Wolfsburg won by a whopping 15-2 aggregate score. The Germans claimed the first leg in Spain by three goals to nil and punching tickets to the next round was already something out of reach for the Spanish side. However, their plan of earning a respectable result and exit with honours was completely trashed, as Atlético looked all over the place in a 12-2 loss in Germany.

The tie showed that there is still a clear technical gap between the two nations when it comes to women’s football, and nowadays there are now easy games in UEFA competitions. But it was also a wasted opportunity for Atlético to showcase their talent on the pitch while also striving for a positive result in order to attract superstars in the team.

On the bright side, the Wolfsburg losses offered valuable lessons and more motivation to focus all energies on the league title defense.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to bolster their attack, the club has acquired the services of Nigerian midfielder Francisca Ordega. The 24-year-old recently played for the Washington Spirit in the United States, and she caught the eye of the Spanish club due to her physicality and pace, which will prove to be assets in the long run.