Barcelona trio bid farewell in last home game of the season

Three Barcelona Femeni stalwarts said their goodbyes in front of the home crowd following the 5-1 win against Real Betis.
FC Barcelona v Olympique Lyonnais - UEFA Women's Champions League Final 2024
FC Barcelona v Olympique Lyonnais - UEFA Women's Champions League Final 2024 / Eurasia Sport Images/GettyImages

Barcelona Femeni's last home game of the season was going to always be a memorable one. Barcelona beat Real Betis 5-1 but the final score was going to be almost of no concern.

Not only was it the first match at the Estadi Johan Cruyff following their Champions League triumph over Lyon, it was going to be a game of farewells.

It was Mariona Caldentey's, Sandra Paños and manager Jonatan Giráldez last home game as members of Barcelona. All three announced they were leaving at the end of the season.

Mariona and Paños both started, with the former scoring a penalty, and then were subbed out in the second half to an ovation from the Barcelona faithful.

Both players had their own press conferences with their teammates in attendance and both spoke highly of their time with the Catalan side.

Paños announced earlier in the year through a post on Twitter that she was leaving, putting an end to nine years at the club. Mariona, on the other hand, only recently announced she was not signing an extension, putting an end to 10 years at Barcelona

Paños has been linked with a move to Mexico's Club America while Mariona has been linked with a move to WSL side Arsenal.

All three also had an opportunity to say a few words following the match.

"I can proudly say that both Barça and Barcelona are my home," Giráldez said. "I don't like goodbyes because I consider you a part of my family. I want it to be a happy day, not a sad one. I will nostalgically remember everything we've experienced."

Giráldez will be managing in the United States next season, as he is set to take over at NWSL side Washington Spirit.

It is not hyperbole to say Barcelona are losing their best goalkeeper in club history, best forward in club history and best manager in club history.

Paños was the starting goalkeeper in two out of the three Champions League winning teams. Her saves during their first ever run to the final arguably marked a before and after for the club regardless of the loss in the final against Lyon.

Mariona had one of her best games in the most recent final against Lyon despite not getting on the score sheet. Her vision, her passing and they way she understands the Barcelona style is second to none and it will be nearly impossible for Barcelona to find another player like her.

Then there's Giráldez. He took over from Lluis Cortes after Barcelona won their first European title and the pressure was on him to improve on the results. No one will argue that he's far exceeded expectations and the results of his predecessor.

Not only has he had an impact on the field, he's also had an impact off it. He created a successful locker within the dressing room and found success in utilizing players in different positions and still getting the best out of them. Perhaps more importantly, he was able to succeed despite the club's financial limitation.

Whereas other teams like Lyon, Chelsea, Arsenal, etc., can go out and spend on new signings,
Giráldez relied on his squad and played players from the academy to plug holes when necessary. Leaving a base is going to be a part of his legacy.


The reactions from the team and the supporters showed how much affection people had for them and there is no question they will be missed come next season.