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Jennifer Hermoso set to break Atletico hearts

Friday 24th January 2020
Hermoso used to turn out for Atletico, only to return to title rivals Barcelona.
Hermoso used to turn out for Atletico, only to return to title rivals Barcelona.

Background Image Via: Pxhere/Public Domain.

Jennifer Hermoso spent one year with Atletico Madrid. She finished as top scorer in the Spanish top-flight and lifted the league title as a result. The 29-year-old then took her form to the World Cup last summer, playing a crucial role in Spain’s tournament. She'd then make the switch to Atleti's title rivals, FC Barcelona.

While born in Madrid, Hermoso expressed jubilation when she re-signed for Barcelona, going record she was “overjoyed to be wearing a Barca shirt again”, before stating that Catalonia is where she grew as a footballer and also a person. In doing so, truly displacing her commitments to her hometown.

With no official Real Madrid team in the Primera Division yet, a Barcelona-Atletico duopoly has formed since the league’s inception in 2011. Transferring across from one another is an as powerful statement, seriously strengthening one side while concurrently depleting the other.

16 games in, Atletico hearts have sunk. Hermoso has gone, taking the goals with her. She scored 24 times last term. That void still remains in Madrid. Management tried to plug the hole by bringing in last season’s second-top goal-scorer, Charlyn Corral, who amassed 20 goals between herself last year for Levante. Yet she’s struggling with just six so far.

Hermoso has elevated her success back at the Estadi Johan Cruyff. 18 goals from 15 league games, including a hat-trick in the opening weekend, vindicated her press conference statement, saying she’d be “better than good”, moreover, exceptional.

The #7 proved her strike wields great velocity, often zooming her shots to the far post. A willingness to accept any delivery, as she has an impressive first touch to make gourmet plays from scrappy passes. She blends all ingredients into goals. High balls become headed goals. Low balls become tap-ins. Everything in the middle usually goes in, too. Her commitment is unwavering, a total offensive footballer who’s consistently ready to score. Her situational success either from dead-balls or open-play validates she’s a triumph waiting to happen practically every game.

Her form coming into this match is red hot with eight goals in as many games, notably last weekend, scoring a brace in the 3-1 victory over Rayo Vallecano; another team Hermoso won the league with although much earlier in her career.

The Spaniard is a vital cog in the Barcelona machine, but not the totality. Asisat Oshoala joined Barcelona permanently this season too, chipping in with 14 goals herself. Caroline Graham Hansen, as well as Marta Torrejon, are in the lead for assists in league with seven each while Alexia Putellas hardly slacking with just one less. All-but Hansen was with the club last year in some capacity, but even with stellar performances – didn’t surpass Atletico. Why? The Hermoso effect.

The Hermoso effect is that you end up winning games with an accompanying trophy or two, via a striker who’s goal tally is often superior to her matches played tally. The consistent goal threat who’s won medals home and abroad – now she’s got this league tied up.

The very fact Atletico go into this game as Barcelona’s closest opposition, yet they're still nine points behind shows the dominance Hermoso strangleholds on Spanish league football. January 2019, when she was playing for the opposition the gap was smaller – but given Barcelona’s ineptitude to catch up, it cost Francisco Sanchez his job as a manager, as he most likely rued seeing Jenni playing for a direct title rival. A year later, Lluis Cortes, his replacement (and former assistant) is jubilant with her because she’s playing for Barcelona, thusly not doing him out of a job scoring for another team!

When Jennifer Hermoso delivers the goals on Saturday (11 am GMT) as Barcelona take a 12-point lead over Atletico, she will break all hearts as any title hopes disintegrate by their former player’s boot. The pattern is set to repeat, given she’s not declining with age; additionally, she is in contract with Barcelona until 2022, meaning further heartache for Atletico...

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Warren Smith

Yokohama F•Marinos supporter. Seen it all in the J.League, relegation fights and being crowned champions. Play five-a-side, pretty good too. Once scored an overhead kick.

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