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Atlético Femenino’s European quest comes to a halt

Atlético Femenino’s challenging season ended in a tight loss.

Atletico Madrid v FC Barcelona - UEFA Women’s Champions League Quarter Final
BILBAO, SPAIN - AUGUST 21: Jade Moore of Atletico de Madrid competes for a header with Kheira Hamraoui of FC Barcelona during the UEFA Women’s Champions League Quarter Final between Atletico Madrid Women and FC Barcelona Women at San Mames Stadium on August 21, 2020 in Bilbao, Spain.
Photo by Juanma - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images
A late goal from former Atlético Madrid player Kheira Hamraoui helped Barcelona end Atleti’s resilience and dash their UEFA Women’s Champions League hopes, as Europe’s top club competition resumed with a unique final-eight format in Spain.

Atlético ended the 2019/20 campaign on Aug. 21 with no titles to their name after exiting the Champions League with a 1-0 loss in the quarter-finals. Heading into this European final eight, it already looked difficult for coach Dani González’s Colchoneros to step up and produce an upset against powerhouses such as Barcelona, Wolfsburg or Lyon.

This is not only because the club is still technically distant from the aforementioned teams, but also because Atlético fielded a large number of new arrivals immediately against the Catalan side.

Atletico Madrid v FC Barcelona - UEFA Women’s Champions League Quarter Final
BILBAO, SPAIN - AUGUST 21: Jennifer Hermoso and Kheira Hamraoui of FC Barcelona battle for possession with Kylie Strom of Atletico de Madrid during the UEFA Women’s Champions League Quarter Final between Atletico Madrid Women and FC Barcelona Women at San Mames Stadium on August 21, 2020 in Bilbao, Spain.
Photo by Javier Soriano/Pool via Getty Images

In addition, Atleti had to make do with five important absences due to five positive COVID-19 cases — these were midfielder Silvia Meseguer, midfielder Leicy Santos, forward Deyna Castellanos, forward Charlyn Corral, and defender Laia Alexandri.

These cases messed up Atleti’s preparation a bit heading into this one-legged tie, as a scheduled friendly against Athletic Club de Bilbao had to be cancelled as well.

All key players had to be replaced by the debutants, including Hedvig Lindahl between the sticks, Merly van Dongen and Alia Guagni at the back and English midfielder Jade Moore.

The club continued to revamped the playing squad as soon as the 2019/20 campaign wrapped up. Goalkeepers Lola Gallardo (Lyon) and Netherlands captain Sari van Veenendaal (PSV) left the club alongside Kenti Robles and Elena Linari — who went to Real Madrid and Bordeaux, respectively.