Jonatan Giráldez knows his Barcelona team face a stern challenge to retain their title
For anyone motivated by history and statistics, the 2023/24 Women’s Champions League already looks tantalising. For a start, Barcelona now have only Lyon and Frankfurt ahead of them in the list of clubs with the most titles. Can they close the gap?
With the 2024 final set to unfold in Bilbao, can they also lift the trophy on Spanish soil? Since the competition switched to one-legged deciders in 2009/10, only one team have managed to triumph on home turf – Frankfurt beating Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 in Berlin in 2015.
And how about the chasing pack? Can the likes of Chelsea, Real Madrid and Paris add their name to the roll of honour next May? Ask Barcelona coach Jonatan Giráldez about retaining the crown and he is quick to stress the scale of the challenge.
“It’s hard enough to win one Champions League, let alone two! European budgets are going up and up. Staff are ever more professional; players are more experienced and have better training conditions. That means everything is much tougher. To fend off the clubs seeking to catch us, we must continue to grow, even if only a little.
“The challenge is that when you win, you are the team to beat. But I see it as an opportunity to motivate my players. That’s our duty: not to be satisfied with what we’ve achieved but to keep growing. We have to grow in a tactical sense, offer a greater threat in midfield and attack, and be a team that is harder to suss out.”
Even so, Giráldez feels the lure of appearing in a final so close to home can help focus minds: “It’s an incentive for the fans. Why not dream that all our supporters have the chance to go on that journey with us for yet another season? They’ve been so important for us.”