Aitana Bonmatí speaks to UEFA.com as the lifelong Barcelona fan prepares for her fourth final in five years with the Blaugrana.
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Aitana Bonmatí was brought up 40km from Barcelona, joined the club when she was 14 years old in 2012, and has become a crucial part of their rise to women's football supremacy.
Player of the Match when Barcelona dismantled Chelsea 4-0 in the 2021 final, Bonmatí was also in the side when they lost deciders to Lyon in 2019, as underdogs, and last year, as clear favourites. The midfielder has again been integral as Barcelona have made yet another final while maintaining their domestic supremacy, even taking on a more advanced role in the absence of injured players such as Alexia Putellas.
As Barcelona prepare for Saturday's final against Wolfsburg, who they beat 5-1 in front of a world-record 91,648 crowd at Camp Nou in last season's semi-final first leg, Bonmatí previews the decider and explains what the club means to her as a lifelong fan.
On facing Wolfsburg
You know, a final is a final. It'll be a very close game, I'm completely sure about it. And I'm very prudent about Wolfsburg: I think they're a great team, with big players, and they've made it to the final, and this is not their first final either.
It's true that we had a great match against them last year at Camp Nou, but we lost at their stadium, so we have to be ready. I expect a close game. In a final, there is always a lot at stake, you have the rest of the season on your shoulders, you're nervous, you have the fans there…
There are many things at stake in a final. So a final is a final, and sure it will be a very close game, so we'll have to be very attentive and focused throughout the whole game. As I've said before, they have great players that might hurt us at any moment.
On playing her and Barcelona's fourth final in five years
Obviously now is not the same as when we got to the first final, with a team completely new to this type of situation, with no experience. We went to Budapest pretty much just for the experience, knowing that Lyon were the best team in the world, and that we were very likely going to lose, but we went out to enjoy it and see what would happen. Now, I think we're a very mature team, obviously experienced after playing three finals already.
And last year we lost the final against Lyon. I think we always have to respect Lyon. Personally, I've always respected them because they've always proven to be a great team and you only need to see their Champions League trophy cabinet.
I think we've evolved progressively. We started small and built up, and in between we lifted our first Champions League trophy. Then we lost, but I think we came out stronger after that defeat because, in the end, I always say that often losing helps you improve. And losing sometimes means winning, because if you keep on winning, you don't realise what you're doing wrong, what you can fix. It also helps you to never give up, to improve every day and I think this season has been a clear example, to be back in a final again after losing last year against Lyon.
Aitana Bonmatí's Barcelona stats
Women's Champions League titles: 1 (2021)
Women's Champions League finals: 3 (2019, 2021, 2022)
Liga titles: 4 (2020, 2021, 2022, 2023)
Copa de la Reina titles: 5 (2017, 2018, 2020, 2021, 2022)
Spanish Super Cup titles: 3 (2020, 2022, 2023)
On Barcelona's record Camp Nou crowds
If you look back, not many years ago, I still remember playing at the Mini Estadi and there was hardly anyone there. And half of them were our parents and our friends, or people who knew us. In a short space of time things have changed a lot. We are still surprised because if you think about it objectively, you think: "Look how far we've come!" And you're very happy because you would have never imagined this, attendance record after attendance record.
Fans are delighted. We're delighted with the fans, too. I mean, our connection says a lot about this club, it says a lot about the fans, it says a lot about us. I think it's the work we've all done, together, fighting for a common goal, which is to take the Barça name around the world, not only in terms of men's football but also showing that us women can cross borders and reach many homes.
"When I hear the word Barça, I have a very deep feeling, it does come from the inside, because it has been like this for my whole life."
On her different positions in the team this season
First of all, my role is ultimately decided by the coach. I don't change it just because I want to. He's the boss and I have changed my role simply because my [current] position is a bit more advanced than usual. On the other hand, it's true that this season has been tough because we've had serious injuries, like those of Alexia [Putellas], Cata [Coll], Jana [Fernández] and Bruna [Vilamala]. They've all had long injuries and they've returned to the game, one by one.
So, I'm happy to get to the end of the season, the most important bit. [We've] recovered from nearly all the injuries, because it's true that Lucy [Bronze] and Frido [Rolfö] are a bit on the sidelines now, but I think they'll be fit. It's great that the whole team is back, and we can face the end of this season together.
On her feeling for the club
When I hear the word Barça, I have a very deep feeling, it does come from the inside, because it has been like this for my whole life. I play for Barça and I have always been a supporter. I'm very proud to support and play for this club. It's very rewarding for me, since this is something I dreamed of as a child.