News Matches
Atlético Madrid

'Barcelona are the team to beat in Europe - we want to reach their level’ - Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Gallardo

09:00 BST 09/10/2021
Lola Gallardo Barcelona Women composite
The Spain international speaks to Goal about her return to Atleti, winning the UEFA Women's Champions League with Lyon and the success of Barca

Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Lola Gallardo has heaped praise on rivals Barcelona, declaring the Spanish and European champions “the team to beat in Europe”.

The Spain international re-joined the club in the summer following a season with seven-time Women’s Champions League winners Lyon.

After a disappointing campaign last term, Atleti have made a great start to this year’s Liga Iberdrola and will face Barca on Saturday. Gallardo has stressed the desire to do amazing things like their opposition, who won the treble last season, but with the same patience they had too.

What has been said?

Speaking to Goal in an exclusive interview, the 28-year-old said of Barcelona: "It's true that they've been patient, they've had their block of players, and they've been adding top level players who contribute to the team. I think that has been their success, that's why they're up there, fighting for all the titles, and right now I think they're the team to beat in Europe.

“We want to do things like that, but we can't expect to finish fourth last year and this year win the league, Champions League, cup, Super Cup and all the titles. We have to take it one game at a time and little by little to try to reach Barca's level as soon as possible.

"I think the stage in which we underwent the biggest change was the year I was not here. There was a change of coach, many new foreign players, and in the end, whether you like it or not, it is a very important change and people have to adapt. We need time to adapt.

“It's true that this year more national players have come in, which we also needed, the language is very important and with the people who were already here, who have been here for a year and have had time to adapt, I think it's a good mix and that's why things are going well for us.

"I think Oscar [Fernandez, head coach] was looking for a rojiblanco (red and white) feeling. In the end, being at Atleti is all about feeling, courage, heart and whoever comes here has to be clear that this is only experienced here. I say this from experience. I have been at other clubs and the way football feels here, at least in my experience, is not felt anywhere else.

“We have to be clear that we have to run more than anyone else, that we have to be more aggressive than anyone else, that we have to fight for every ball more than anyone else and if they have those things, and come with those values, it's much easier.”

'Lyon is a luxury'

Gallardo also reflected on her year with Lyon. The postponement and late resumption of the 2019-20 Women’s Champions League due to the Covid-19 pandemic meant she was part of the squad that won that title, a triumph which was her “main objective” to achieve at the club.

“I've met people who I probably wouldn't have met if I hadn't gone abroad. I've played and trained with the best and that's what I'll keep,” she said of her experience.

“The truth is that it is a luxury [to be among the players at Lyon]. To see how they work, how they train, it's no coincidence that they are the best, that they have won all the titles they have won.

"They work hard, they work 100 per cent to keep winning everything, and the truth is that I am very proud to have been able to share a dressing room with them and it has been an enriching experience.”

As for her decision to return to Atletico, the goalkeeper explained: “I think you always want to go back to where you are happy. I love the way football is lived at Atletico Madrid and I think that's why I keep playing.

“It's true that spark at Lyon went out little by little and I was afraid that it wouldn't ignite, but it only took two games with Atletico Madrid for it to ignite again.”

Further reading