Vicky Losada gives her thoughts on Barcelona's run to the final, opponents Chelsea and her role as captain.
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Vicky Losada first joined Barcelona's La Masia academy aged 13 in 2004; on Sunday the midfielder hopes to be the club's first captain to lift the UEFA Women's Champions League trophy.
In 2019 they made the final for the first time but Losada's side were overpowered 4-1 by Lyon in Budapest. They were underdogs that day but against Chelsea – a team Losada knows well from her time at Arsenal when she helped the Gunners beat the Blues in the 2016 FA Women's Cup final – Barcelona are many people's favourites, especially given how they overwhelmed Women's Super League runners-up Manchester City 3-0 in their quarter-final first leg in Monza.
Losada, 30, speaks to UEFA.com about that "template" performance, the difference from 2019, Chelsea's strengths and how things have changed since she first broke into a then-struggling Barcelona senior team in 2006.
On the first leg against Manchester City
Not only was that a key game, it’s also been the benchmark for us this year in the Champions League because of how it started, how it ended, the scoreline. I think that game should serve as a template for us.
On reaching the final
It kind of reminded us of when we got past Bayern [München in the 2019 semi-finals], but this was in a different setting. We experienced it in the same way: with the fans, singing and celebrating. Obviously, there was a lot of joy because a lot of hard work went into it.
We experienced the first one at the Mini Estadi, and it’s great to experience it again now at the Estadi Johan Cruyff, which is our fortress and our home – we feel at home there. It was an unforgettable moment, I’m sure it’ll happen again.
On the 2019 final and comparing it with now
There are lots of girls who’ve been here at Barça for many years, and one of the club’s approaches is to keep that grounding so that we don’t stray from our style and the way that the club plays. Back then we all experienced moments that were very different to how they are now. We’ve grown over the years, and on that day in Budapest we said to ourselves: “OK, we’ve been learning, but we no longer want to treat the Champions League as a present to be enjoyed. We want to be the best in Europe.”
On that day we spoke to the gaffer and said that we had to be as demanding as possible with ourselves, and that’s been reflected in the last two seasons. We’ve taken a step forward in terms of quality, which has drawn a line between now and previous seasons.
Even so, it’s very difficult. We’re in the Champions League and people have us down as favourites. I’d like to send out a message to say that we need to keep our feet on the ground and that Chelsea have some very, very good players. It’s only 90 minutes, we’re prepared and we know that. We want to win it and we’ve got the mindset to win it, but we’ve got to keep working and show our opponents due respect, obviously.
I played in the WSL and it’s clear that the league has grown, which is also thanks to the players’ growth. Chelsea have made some very good signings. The club also supports its academy. I know they have the same philosophy [throughout the club] and they work very well with the girls. At the end of the day, they’re both great clubs who believe in women’s football, and when good work is done year after year, it shows in the results. Chelsea are certainly improving as a team and as a club in the same way we’re improving.
On how things have changed since her first days at Barcelona
Back then, we used to train for two hours at night, and we would travel [to matches] by bus for eight to 12 hours. We didn’t analyse our opponents. So many things have changed.
That mentality simply didn’t exist because, given that we didn’t have any way of analysing ourselves, it was impossible. There’s no comparison. There was no television coverage, no sponsors, no brands. It was impossible.
On the experience of the last year
When we were in lockdown, we never stopped training for a single day. We even did double sessions at home, which was very tough mentally. But it goes to show what I’ve been talking about, the mentality of this team. When you have a clear objective and when everyone is rowing in the same direction, all that positive energy adds up and leads to what we’re achieving. We’re now in another final, and that’s all the more significant given the year we’re all having, with the massive amount of matches we’re playing and the numbers we’re achieving. Of course, it’ll be a historic and unforgettable moment that will carry greater weight after the pandemic.
On being Barcelona captain
I’ve been here for many years, I know how the club works, and I always say the same thing: it seems easy when we play, but it’s not so easy to adapt to our style. Many players who have been here – male players like Titi [Thierry] Henry or [Zlatan] Ibrahimović – have said that when they arrived, they were given two rules that were the complete opposite of what they’d been doing up until then. What that means is that our job [as players], or mine as a captain when I welcome the new players, is to show them our style, how the team works on and off the pitch, and to teach them about the club’s history and that it’s not only about winning but about how you win. Obviously now, because we’re such a competitive team with such a strong winning mentality, we need to keep that up to reach our goals.