Málaga back on winning track! Latest blog by Chelsea Ashurst!
So, it’s been a couple of weeks where you have to say we at Málaga CF have had our hearts in our mouths! Two matches against direct relegation rivals, first away at Madrid CFF (on 24 March) and then at home against Fundación Albacete.
In the end the Madrid game was a bit of a kick in the teeth, as we created plenty of opportunities but the ball just didn’t want to go in! We lost to the only goal of the game, a penalty conceded in the first half, and it was so frustrating – especially knowing how important the match was to us and to the fans that had travelled all the way from Málaga to Madrid to support us.
That defeat meant that the next game at home to Albacete was even more important, and the players and the club really made a big push on social media to try and get as big an attendance as possible to the game! Though the weather’s normally great here on the Costa del Sol, on that match day it was absolutely throwing it down with rain, but plenty of supporters braved the conditions to cheer us on.
I think they’ll be glad that they did, because we won 4-2! It was a tough, physical game on a soaked surface, but it was a great match to be a part of and we scored some quality goals -particularly a lovely, curling free-kick from Leticia Méndez which put us 3-1 up! The three points means that, while we’re still bottom of the table, we’re just one point away from safety, with four games left to play…
Coincidentally, our next match after the international break is away against my former team FC Barcelona, which brings me to back to my first season with them – in 2013/14. As you might expect at such a big club, there was a really steep learning curve for someone who’d just joined!
First and foremost the Barça coach Xavi Llorens and his goalkeeping coach taught me how to play better with the ball at my feet, as playing out from the back is such an important part of the Barcelona style. That was great for me because, as we all know, sweeper-keepers are more and more common in modern football!
Another key difference was the physical-conditioning work we needed to do. At other clubs I’d done plenty of gym work, but it was always off my own back, to supplement my training, but at Barça my fellow keepers and I had a specific weights routine to do every day. It was tough at first – everything ached (!!) – but I soon got into it and really saw the benefits.
FC Barcelona women’s team are fully professional now, but it wasn’t the case back then, so we’d only train in the afternoon/evening – to give the players the chance to fit it around their work or studies. Having just arrived, I was the second-choice keeper behind Laura Ràfols, who was a top player and had already been at the club for six or seven years.
Fortunately our coach Xavi did give me some opportunities to play and it was wonderful to be challenging for the league title, the Copa de la Reina and the UEFA Champions League. Come the end of the season, we managed to clinch the double, winning the league and the Copa – with Athletic Bilbao runners-up in both – as well as reaching the quarter-finals in Europe, where we lost out to a very strong Wolfsburg team, the eventual winners.
Join me next time for the latest on Málaga’s battle against the drop and the next chapter of my adventure at Barcelona!
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