Marta Vieira da Silva

Marta: “I don’t rule out playing in the (Spanish) Liga Iberdrola in the future”

Marta, The Brazil and Rosengard ace spoke to LaLiga ahead of the Swedish club’s Women’s Champions League quarter-final second-leg clash against Barcelona.

From Pele to Rivaldo, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Neymar, among others: the finest Brazilian footballers often don’t need surnames – their first name or nickname suffices. FC Rosengard talisman Marta certainly fits this bill and belongs in such illustrious company. Indeed, last Wednesday, the Swedish outfit faced FC Barcelona in the first leg of the Women’s Champions League quarter-finals. Scanning down the team sheets before kick-off, there were stars everywhere you looked: Lotta Schelin, Lieke Martens, Ebba Wieder, Alexia Putellas, Sandra Paños and many more. All wonderful players, and all referred to by two names… except for Marta.

The maestro spoke to LaLiga ahead of the decisive return match against the Catalans, which Xavi Llorens’s charges go into with a 1-0 lead from the first leg, secured through a goal from Leila Ouahabi. “We can play much better than we did in Malmo,” insisted Marta, who is Rosengard’s biggest threat and a cult hero among the local fans. Indeed, every time the Brazilian got on the ball against Barça, it seemed to set off a buzz across the city, not to mention among the over 5,000 supporters in attendance at the Malmo IP stadium. That love affair is mutual, with the 31-year-old even having recently become a Swedish citizen.

Despite the inevitable excitement that accompanied her every contribution, it is only fair to say that Marta and her teammates did not hit the heights last week against the Liga Iberdrola title challengers, who were worthy winners. “I wasn’t surprised by how Barcelona played. We know that they’re a very technical side. We let them dominate possession and gave them too much space,” the Brazil international reflected.

Just like the Azulgranas ladies, Rosengard have never graced the Women’s Champions League semi-finals before and so are raring to break new ground. “The second leg will be very different. We’ve got to work our socks off and win. It’s very important for us to come through this tie,” said the veteran, who remains as motivated as ever despite a long and glittering career that has seen her capture the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year award five times, taste European glory with Umea IK during her first Swedish adventure, feature in the World Cup final and scoop two Olympic silver medals.

Hers is a familiar story. Like many of her fellow Brazilians and peers, she left her homeland as a youngster to pursue her dreams. She wound up in Sweden, where she came of age both physically and mentally and her football flourished. After her stint at Umea, a few years later she returned to the Scandinavian country to join Tyreso FF, where she shared a dressing room with Veronica Boquete – whom she described to us as “my favourite Spanish player” – and reached another Champions League final, only to lose out 4-3 to Wolfsburg.

Marta is her own player and person. But she undoubtedly has something of the Rivaldo and Ronaldo about her. Both lit up LaLiga and Spain savoured their brilliance, like we are now doing that of Neymar, another compatriot with whom parallels can be drawn. She left the door open to potentially following in their footsteps one day: “Little by little, the Spanish women’s game is improving. I don’t rule out playing in the Liga Iberdrola in the future,” she teased. A mouth-watering prospect if ever there was one.

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