Vicky Losada lives and breathes Barcelona and stands one game away from winning the biggest prize with her childhood club when they play Chelsea in the Champions League final on Sunday. Losada joined Barcelona at 14 and started in the first division two years later, her 14 years at the club punctured by spells at Espanyol, Western New York Flash and Arsenal. She could “talk for hours, days” about the changes she has seen at the club but the key is constant improvement. “We haven’t lost a year; we haven’t made that step back ever. I think that’s very important.”
This season everything has clicked, Barcelona have the balance of new players and academy products and are playing a style of football synonymous with the club. They clinched the league title last Sunday with five games to spare: Played 26, won 26, scored 128 goals, conceded five.
“Every single player in my team is a winner,” says Losada. “In every single training session there’s a fight because nobody wants to lose. These things make the results that we are achieving this year.”
That said, it may seem strange but Barcelona were disappointed when Paris Saint-Germain knocked the holders, Lyon, out of the competition at the quarter-final stage. “We really wanted to play Lyon because for the players that were there in 2019 it was very painful and we’ve learned from that,” says the midfielder. “You are made from the experiences you have in your career. We’re more ready, if that happens in the first minutes, we’re ready to control the game.”
Losada is referring to the 2019 final when the Norwegian forward Ada Hegerberg scored a 16-minute hat-trick to stun the Catalan club, who would lose their first final 4-1. It is a testament to the rapid growth at Barcelona, and in Spain generally, that now they do seem ready – and capable – of beating any team in Europe.
“We were a different team in 2019, the league was also a different league, we were a very young team. Lyon had much more experience in those kind of games than us. We learned from that day. Right after the game, at the airport, we spoke with the manager and we told him we wanted to train more, we wanted to spend more hours training, we wanted to do everything that was in our hands to be better. Now we are a completely different team and you can feel that in the environment, you can feel it in the players, in the dressing room. Now we are ready to go for the final.”
It has been 14 years since a team from outside Germany or France won the Champions League and, with Chelsea and Barcelona in the final, there will be a new name on the trophy. The impact of a win, in both countries, would be huge for the development of the game.
“It’s massive,” says the 30-year-old midfielder. “It’s the same when your country qualifies for a World Cup or Euros, these massive opportunities are the ones that have an impact on the game. Women’s football is growing but it’s growing slowly after the pandemic, even slower.
“Now that teams are professional, half of the league is professional and every time you make a big change like this more girls want to play and they start playing football even younger. I am sure that, if we win the Champions League, that’s going to have a massive impact.”
Losada is aware this raises expectations but does not see it as “extra pressure”, adding: “I think it’s a nice responsibility that the team wants to have and we are ready. When you know you’re ready and you’ve worked and you’ve done your job every day it’s a moment to enjoy, it’s a moment to believe in our style in our game and in our players.”
It is not just the football that the Spain international loves. It is the club’s ethos that has kept her connected to the wider world. Losada is involved in the Barça Foundation’s bullying prevention programme that has worked with more than 160,000 children in Catalonia since 2017.
“I wanted to be part of it,” she says. “As a footballer you are in a bubble and you don’t realise about what’s going on in life, really. You don’t have time, you’re travelling every three days and then you kind of come back down to earth, put your feet on the floor. I realised how important we can be and the massive impact we can have in society.”
That connection to community is important. “We can’t lose that, ever. The ones that have been here for many, many years are the ones that have the responsibility to tell new players how this club works, all the work that’s been done over a lot of years.”
Now they have a chance to extend their strength and influence by taking Barcelona’s women’s team to the next level. “It would be a dream come true. I want to win a Champions League. I’ve won everything with this club. I started here when I was a little girl. It’s a massive chance and we have to take it.”