Patricia Guijarro - The Engine, the Underappreciated Workhorse, and The Midfield General.

A CDM or a central defensive midfielder can very well be described as the heart of the game. Their role is generally underappreciated and they have to work tirelessly all around the pitch. They are usually neglected in today’s game but are as important as any star player as they help add a certain level of balance to the team.


While everyone looks at Jenni’s tricks, Caro’s dribbling or Lieke’s crossing, it’s the defensive midfielder, Patri, who works throughout the game to provide support to the defense as well as help the offense if needed.


At 17 years old, Patri Guijarro signed for Barcelona in 2015 from Collerense. Guijarro is considered one of the most promising young talents in Spanish football within the last few years. A first choice for virtually her entire senior international career, which she debuted in 2017, Guijarro is a powerful midfielder who lacks nothing in character, vision and goalscoring ability.

A little about her:


Despite her youth, she has the air of a veteran in the Barça midfield. Guijarro is the organizer in the middle for the team and demonstrates an excellent ability to get forward and score goals.


Place of birth Palma de Mallorca (Mallorca) Date of birth 17/05/1998

Weight 64kg Height 170cm


The last time the world talked about Patri Guijarro, the Barcelona midfielder was winning the Golden Ball and Golden Boot at the U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2018. The 21-year-old was a part of the Spanish team that finished second to Japan in the U-20 tournament.


But it’s high time we talk about Patri Guijarro again because of the performance this central midfielder had against Atletico in the Spanish Super Cup. In my opinion, she’s a far more enthralling youngster to watch in Barcelona. And it's not bad being the fifth-choice captain for Barcelona at the age of 21 either.


TECHNICAL PROFILE


Her role:


Assisting with a grand physique, Patri moves fluently from midfield. The versatility of the Balearic Islander allows to oxygenate the engine room, design from the inside or deploy a wide range of passes as a holding midfielder. Understanding the ins and outs of being a defensive midfielder is no easy feat, the finesse with which she protects the ball captures all eyes. You can ask Sergio Busquets to know how difficult it is rather than how easy it looks.


Patri in action


With Barcelona, her main job is to break the opposition's play. She relies mainly on the ability to read the game as well as good tackling. She has a good passing ability and great tactical awareness as well.


Beginning of her Career:


Surrounded by children in CF Patronato of her native Mallorca, Patri Guijarro's incandescent trail began to explode with fury. At the age of 14, she joined the UD Collerense women's squad, leading the Mallorcan team to the First Division as a 16 years old. Intelligent with positional sense, her power in the midfield captured the attention of Xavi Llorens (then-manager of Barca Femeni), betting on the youth of a player that now commands Barça's ship.


Patri with Barca B sensation Riqui Puig


Patri arrived at Barça in the summer of 2016 from UD Collerense. Fulfilling one of her dreams, Guijarro put on blue and red for the first time in the 2015/2016 season, joining the foundations of a team in a league that had just recently been considered professional. Tireless and indomitable as steel, Patri is becoming become the perfect compass that can guide the course of glory to Barça Femení.


Injuries and setbacks:


This past year, Guijarro went through one of the most difficult moments of her career. Punished by a harsh injury in early 2019, the Balearic player's mental strength once again illuminated the hardness of a path that marked the goal. A ganglion cyst on her right foot forced her to undergo surgery twice. She was out of the team for more than 4 months, returning back to the team the day of the UEFA Womens Champions League final and getting selected for Spain's 2019 Women's World Cup squad just days after her medical clearance.


How good she has fared this season:


For Barca Femeni, everything goes through her boots. Since the start of the season, we've been witnessing the best version of Patri unfolding. As a fundamental piece in the Azulgrana's game, she remains the central axis through which play develops. In addition, the constant bangers from outside the box makes her a lethal player. In her fifth season as a Blaugrana, she is hungry for titles. Undoubtedly, the number '12', is the midfield general of this team.

Patri celebrates with her teammates after scoring a goal


With Patri in the midfield, Barça looks stronger with her presence. She defines the passing of the ball, defensive transition, and manufacturing of the attack. Creativity in each pass comes without a doubt from one of the most underrated defensive midfielders in the world. Despite her youth, at only 21 years old she has managed to become the lighthouse that lights the Lluís Cortés squad. Security, football and a great goal dress the qualities of Patri, a star that glides at an unstoppable speed.


You can see how good Patri is here, she is coming out of the high pressing from 3 players and she is passing the ball forward. Again, she is passing the ball forward and not retreating and looking for safety.



Given her attacking mentality, Lluis Cortés has given her the luxury to roam a little farther up the pitch. Her main strength is anticipation and getting the job done by putting pressure on the attacking players. She has a good heading, vision and immense ball control when put into pressure. Her long-distance strikes make her even more lethal. With her, Barca has one of the best midfielders to count on for years to come.


Importance of Patri to Barca Femeni:


When Defending:


Barca’s style of play at the back is extremely well known in the football community. It has been a tradition for Barca to sign and train full-backs who have the potential to switch to attack in any possible situation. The full-backs are so well accustomed to this style of play that they can even double up as a winger.



This tactic leaves a cynical space in the defence, giving the oppositions enough advantage in a counter-attack. This is where Parti comes into action. She moves from the center of the pitch to the side of the counter-attack thus occupying the missing full-backs position, giving the team enough time to fall back to defence. For example, in case Leila loses the ball upfront and Mapi is man-marking a forward, Patri would slide down to the left-back’s position.


When attacking:


Using the full-backs in an attacking position, Patri provides an extra option to the midfielders while changing the side of the play. While the two other central midfielders control the tempo of the game, she continues to maintain the balance during offense and defense. If there are no opposition players pressuring the central midfielders, Patri helps to switch the play horizontally. But if the opposition is actively reacting with pressure, she switches the play vertically.


Her hunger to win trophies with Barca:

Patri exults In joy after scoring a thunderbolt against Atletico


Prior to the match against Atletico in the Spanish Super Cup, Guijarro said that they are going to give their lives to take the trophy back to Barcelona. And you know what? She meant what she said when she scored a top-quality screamer from outside the box to level the match. From trailing 0-1 at the 3rd minute, Barca went on to win the match with a Patri-inspired 2-3 victory and lifted the trophy days later by demolishing Real Sociedad in the final with a scoreline of 10-1.


Patri explained the priority given to the League title in an interview for Barça TV's 'Hora B' program:

It is very important, this year the League has to be ours. We are going to die for the League and This Saturday is going to be very important to follow this path .

Here's the video of Patri's goal from the semifinal:


Her teammate's words:


Her Spain and Barcelona teammate Aitana Bonmatí hailed her ability to bring balance to the team and having a great shot. Other teammates like Eva Navarro called her "a perfect all-around player."


In 2018, after her triumphs with Barcelona and Spain's U-20 national team, Guijarro made The Guardian's yearly list of the 100 best women's footballers, coming in at number 68. They described the 20-year-old as one of the world's best midfielders.


Fran Sanchez Bas, Former FC Barcelona Femeni manager:

“Patri has had a great year. She is a creator but she has potential in the physical and aerial areas of the game, she has a huge amount of potential.”

What to expect:


Capable of collecting the ball out of the backline and even slotting in at center-back, she is a ball-playing midfielder. She keeps looking to initiate attacking transitions and creates difficulties for her opponents. She knows how to read passing lanes and start counters.


With the passage of time, the 21-year-old stalwart will surely be able to reflect on a personally excellent UWCL tournament in which Lluis Cortes is expected to select her for every match. Soon enough, Patri is going to prove herself as one of the world's most exciting prospects in the coming seasons.


Conclusion:


Whilst more attacking players may get the headlines with goals and assist statistics, Patri’s role cannot be understated in providing both an attacking and defending foundation as well as balanced play. She occupies and dominates the central zone through accurate and consistent short passing, smart positional rotations, spatial awareness and by anticipating potential loss of possession. Her importance both in and out of possession for the success of the Barca Femeni’s team is very clear, and the world is lucky to watch along as her talents unfold.