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Atlético Femenino, Barcelona locked in two-horse race

The second half of the season is underway, and Atlético’s ladies are facing a fight to defend their title.

Atlético Madrid Femenino kicked off the second half of the Liga Iberdrola season with a thrilling 4-3 win over Albacete on Saturday, their ninth win from the past 11 outings. The only games which didn’t end in victory for Ángel Villacampa’s team were a stalemate against top challengers Barcelona and a surprising 1-0 home defeat to Rayo Vallecano.

Mexican Kenti Robles was the goalscorer for Atlético against the team from Catalunya, scoring in a nerve-wrecking game which saw the capital club fail to make gobs of pressure count and saw carelessness stop them from taking all three points. Two players were handed a debut in this game for Atlético, as Sana Daoudi and Francisca Ordega donned red and white for the first time. Daoudi, who was exceptional at the back, was brought in on loan in September until the end of the season from French giants Paris SG.

Afterwards, Atlético played their first Madrid derby of the season when they faced Madrid CFF (who have no relationship with Real Madrid). Atlético broke little sweat to take home maximum points as goals from Esther Gonzalez, Marta Corredera and Sonia Bermudez sealed the win for the league leaders.

In the games that followed, Atletico found no problem in beating Granadilla Tenerife South, Real Betis, Sevilla and also Espanyol, which enabled them to strengthen their position in the title challenge before that shock defeat to Rayo.

That loss was the colchoneras’ first in 560 days and by no means was it on the script, as Atlético were dominant throughout the game but Rayo’s resilience proved difficult to negotiate with. Nonetheless, the team bounced back with two straight wins over Levante and Zaragoza to maintain joint leadership with Barça, which has a sizable goal difference advantage (+52 to +32).

Hickmann becomes the latest signing

In a bid to bolster their defensive line before a rematch with their rivals from Catalunya, Atlético acquired Brazil defender Monica Hickmann’s services.

Hickmann, 30, was lured from United States club Orlando Pride. Her arrival was important, especially after the departures of Alexandra, Rocio Galves and Mapi Leon.

Hickmann’s acquisition is also important due to her experience which will definitely help the likes of Laia Alexandri, Carmen Menayo and Marta Cazalla, who are still gaining experience in top-flight football.

Until next month, Nunca Dejes de Creer.