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Atlético Femenino update: Duggan replaces Hermoso as champions head into new season

The season-opening match against Huelva looms as Atleti aim for more history.

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Norway v England: Quarter Final - 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup France
Toni Duggan of England looks on during the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup France Quarter Final match between Norway and England at Stade Oceane on June 27, 2019 in Le Havre, France.
Photo by Naomi Baker - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Like their men’s team, Atlético Madrid Femenino have been involved heavily in the summer transfer window with some notable acquisitions — but with some significant departures as well.

Undoubtedly, the biggest name to join the Liga Iberdrola champions’ ranks is Toni Duggan.

Duggan, 28, was part of the England national team during the 2019 Women’s World Cup, where she racked up one assist in their quarter-final rout of Norway. The former Everton, Manchester City and Barcelona forward is no new face to Atlético fans, as she scored in Barça’s 2-0 win at the Wanda Metropolitano last season. With the Catalunya-based club, she netted 29 times in 72 games.

Duggan and Atlético are already off to a good start together, as preseason victories over Pozoalbense (12-0) and Osasuna (6-0) have indicated.

Duggan replaces the departed Jenni Hermoso, who as expected returned to Barcelona after just one season with the Colchoneras. She finished top scorer of the Spanish championship as Atlético successfully defended the Spanish title once more.

Another former Rojiblanca who made her way back to Barcelona is Andrea Falcón, who decided to seek pastures new after winning three championships and earning her first Spain call-up.

However, José Luis Sánchez’s squad has been bolstered by other important signings, including Netherlands goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal. The Dutch custodian had been on Arsenal’s books since 2015 and after winning England’s national title, she opted to move to Madrid for a new footballing experience.

Other newcomers

Meanwhile, the club added more new faces to the side, including Ukrainian duo Olga Ovdiychuk and Natiia Pantsulaia.

Ovdiychuk, 25, topped the Ukrainian top-flight’s scorers list with 30 goals as FK Zhytlobud-1 took the national double with championship and cup triumphs.

Meanwhile, Pantsulaja captained Turkish side Alg Spor this past season. The 27-year-old Ukraine international is a versatile fullback who can be deployed on either flank.

Virginia Torrecilla has joined as well from French side Montpellier on a two-year deal. The Spanish midfielder is a valuable addition as one of the most experienced players on the market, having won three titles and three cups with Barcelona. She also played in the Women’s Champions League and played with her national team during the Women’s World Cup in France.

Up front, Atlético also brought in Mexico international Charlyn Corral, who last season was a stalwart at Levante. The 27-year-old was top scorer with 24 goals in 2017/18, while last year she finished second behind Hermoso with 20 strikes. She will reunite with Mexico teammate Kenti Robles in Madrid.

American defender Kylie Strom swapped the Czech Republic for Spain after a spell at Sparta Prague. Previously, Strom played at Boston University, FFC Frankfurt and Boston Breakers. She was also part of the U-23 USA side in 2014.

Atleti will also have the opportunity to bank on three youngsters that were part of the Spain under-19s — Itziar Pinillos, Laia Aleixandri and Rosa Otermin all featured for Spain as two-time defending champions La Roja fell to France in the Women’s Under-19 Championship last month.

Liga draw

Atlético will open their Liga Iberdrola defence against Sporting Huelva on Sept. 8. The capital club will face Barcelona on Sept. 22, and the reverse will take place on Jan. 26. Atleti will close the season against Rayo Vallecano.

Finally, there have been a few huge announcements heading into the 2019/20 campaign, as the Spanish federation announced that it will invest €20 million into the women’s game. As for live broadcasts, all top-tier fixtures will be on TV or streamed alongside three second-tier fixtures per matchday. In addition, the Spanish championship will be available on the new UEFA TV website and app.