- Barcelona and Spain women star Alexia Putellas was crowned the 2022 Ballon d’Or Feminin winner
- Putellas retained the crown having previously won the title in the year 2021
- SportsLeo takes you through her journey of retaining football’s most prestigious award
When the Spain women national Alexia Putellas won the 2021 Ballon d’Or Feminin, she was the first ever Spanish player – both men and women to be presented with the iconic golden ball since Luis Suarez in 1961. Now, she has won it back-to-back.
Putellas, a Barcelona women star finished top of the 2022 standings ahead of Euro 2022 winner Beth Mead and WSL golden boot winner Chelsea women’s Sam Kerr, highlighting the incredibly stiff competition over the past season.
In the end, it was her career-high 28 goals and captaining a Barcelona team that won every single domestic game it played last season that saw her rise to the top once again.
Putellas has become a very common name on the media since Barcelona thrashed Chelsea in the 2021 Champions League finals and announced themselves as one of the best club sides the women’s game has ever seen. After the Globe Soccer Awards in December 2021, her image was even projected onto the side of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest and most definitely the most famous building in the world.
That level of fame was something she hadn’t really expected to get up until the year 2021. The 28-year-old is now one of the most recognizable footballers in the world, male or female. But, as she told The Players’ Tribune in February 2022, “I’m just concentrating on what I do every day. The rest doesn’t bother me.”
That mindset underpinned her retention of the Ballon d’Or, the first female to do so, and more so even the male footballers very few have done so.
SportsLeo takes a look at the journey she made to win football most prestigious award back to back despite stiff competition.
The Barcelona women’s team was untouchable in Spain during the 2021/2022 season.
During the season before that (2020/21 campaign), Barca amassed a near-perfect 99 points, but fell short of the incredible feat of an invisible team when a second half comeback from Atletico Madrid on the final day resulted in a 4-3 defeat. But the ladies went and did a better one in 2021/22.
The Putellas led team played 30 matches, won 30. 159 goals scored, 11 conceded.
It wasn’t until the sixth match-week of the season that they won by fewer than five goals, while as a team they scored seven or more goals as many as nine times in the league.
Putellas scored 18 times from midfield as Barça finished 24 points clear at the top of the table, and a further five across the Copa de la Reina and Supercopa de Espana Femenina.
Before her Ballon d’Or success, Putellas had already been named UEFA Women’s Player of the Year for the second season in a row despite not winning the UEFA Women Champions League.
As already mentioned, her 28 goals in all competitions marked a personal improvement on the previous year, even if Barcelona fell just short of retaining their Champions League title with defeat to Lyon in the final – Putellas was still Champions League Midfielder of the Season and in Squad of the Season.
Having assumed the Barcelona captaincy – just two seasons after joining Barcelona, Putellas was also top scorer in the Copa de la Reina and scored five times in the Champions League group stage alone.
An ACL injury on the eve of Euro 2022 sadly left a huge ‘what if’ question unanswered, with the best player in the world unable to perform on a stage that was made for her.
A handful of particular moments stand out from Putellas.
In September 2021, she scored a four-minute hat-trick against Valencia, one of the fastest in Barcelona’s history, with the third goal a screamer from 40 yards.
The following month, Putellas was on another level as Barcelona made a very good Arsenal team look completely ordinary in the Champions League group stage, scoring in a 4-1 win.
Two iconic and defining moments came in the Champions League knockout stages as Barcelona hosted back-to-back world record crowds in excess of 91,000 at Camp Nou.
“I used to think that the Camp Nou was just for men. When I played there last year, it was the realisation of a dream I’d had since I was six years old,” Putellas said for The Players’ Tribune.
She was surprisingly quiet by her own standards in the first of the two occasions against Real Madrid, but still popped up with a goal as the Catalans successfully overturned a shock aggregate deficit and banged the drum with the fans at the side pitch after. But she was flawless with a 10/10 performance when Wolfsburg were the visitors to Camp Nou in the semi-final first leg, scoring twice to boot.