Alexia Putellas is being widely recognised as the future of both FC Barcelona and the Spanish national team.
Turning 20 last month, the winger has already won two UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championships and added a Women's U19 runners-up medal. She then opened her senior account with a dramatic winner against England in Spain's UEFA Women's EURO 2013 curtain-raiser on their way to the quarter-finals.
Meanwhile, with Barça, she has claimed Liga and Copa de la Reina honours since arriving in 2012. Now she is focused on the UEFA Women's Champions League, where the Catalans – unbeaten since October 2012 – face holders VfL Wolfsburg in Spain's first quarter-final, hoping to bring back a good result from Sunday's away first leg. Alexia spoke to UEFA.com.
UEFA.com: How would you assess Barça's European season thus far?
Alexia Putellas: It's been a very positive run for us seeing as we have reached the quarter-finals. We've made Spanish footballing history and are very happy with that. However, we are also aware that we haven't won anything yet and that we have to continue along the path we are on in order to reach our objectives, which are to win the Liga and get as far as possible in the Champions League.
UEFA.com: How will your team be preparing for the tie against defending champions Wolfsburg?
Alexia: We already know just how tough a side they are, having played a pre-season friendly against them [which Barcelona lost 2-0]. They are the current European champions and there's not much more you need to add to that. They are a German side and, as such, play at a different level to that of Spanish women's football. Having said all that, we are going to try to beat them and get through to the next round.
UEFA.com: Do you think Barça are capable of springing a surprise, just as Wolfsburg did in the final against then reigning champions Olympique Lyonnais last season?
Alexia: It will be very difficult. The level they play at in Germany is very different to ours. We are, of course, dreaming of doing just that and will give everything we have. We will be keeping our feet on the ground in terms of realising the task we face.
UEFA.com: Can you take advantage of the fact you will play the return leg at home?
Alexia: Between last season and, until now, this one, we have never had the chance of playing the second leg at home. We'll see how it goes. Our objective will obviously be to try to get a good result there, such as a draw or at least scoring a goal which would make things very interesting for the return. We will see how the team respond to the pressure of playing at home in the second game.
UEFA.com: How did you enjoy last July's UEFA Women's EURO in Sweden?
Alexia: Just as with this UEFA Women's Champions League, little by little, tournaments like the EURO are really helping in terms of developing the women's game on an international basis. I think it was an opportunity for Europe and the rest of the world to see that in Spain we also have a lot of quality, especially as we managed to reach the last eight while overcoming historic teams like England.
UEFA.com: What are the main differences between tournaments like the UEFA Women's Under-17 Championship, the U19s and the UEFA Women's EURO?
Alexia: At U17 level, you can see that Spain are very strong. Perhaps that's because other countries haven't reached, at that age, their physical potential, while in terms of quality, Spain are one of the best nations, reaching final tournaments and winning them. At U19 level, you can see that other teams have started to work on the physical side of things. Then, when you make the jump to the senior team, it's a different rhythm altogether. Almost every player playing at that level is a professional. I would say the main difference between each level is based on physicality.
UEFA.com: Do you think the experience gained at UEFA Women's EURO – where many Barcelona players played – has helped the club perform so well in this UEFA Women's Champions League?
Alexia: Of course, all of that helps. The more you compete outside Spain, the more used to that international rhythm you become. You begin to realise that things are harder and much more intense. I think you emerge from competing abroad with a different mentality, so that EURO is definitely helping us this term in the Champions League.
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