Unfinished business for Barcelona's Fridolina Rolfö
Barcelona vs. Wolfsburg
Friday April 22, 18:45 CEST
Fridolina Rolfö knows her next opponents better than most.
The Swede spent two of her four years in Germany at Wolfsburg, winning back-to-back Frauen-Bundesliga titles and a German Cup before securing her dream move to Barcelona.
Rolfö's winning habit hasn't ended in Catalonia. Last month she secured a domestic double in her first season — but there's one prize that still evades her.
Crossing the divide
The closest she came to winning the Champions League was in 2020, when Wolfsburg's run was ended by seven-time record winners Olympic Lyon in the final.
The semifinal had been a pandemic-enforced one-leg affair against Barcelona. On that occasion, Rolfö was wearing green — and it was her goal that sent Wolfsburg through at Barcelona's expense. Fast forward two years, and she's now playing for the reigning European champions.
"It's crazy when I think back: Then I was playing with Wolfsburg, and now I'm playing against them. It was something different that year because of the coronavirus — so there was only one game in the semifinal, not two," Rolfö recalled in a recent episode of DAZN's "The Match Up" podcast.
"We had a big chance to win that game, and we did it, so I was so happy after scoring that goal and I knew that we could reach one of our goals: to win the Champions League. Unfortunately, we didn't achieve our goal, but at least we played in a final and I want to get back there again," the 28-year-old added.
New experience, new philosophy
Rolfö, who also spent two seasons at Bayern Munich from 2017, is one of three Barcelona players who previously plied their trade at Wolfsburg. Norwegian pair Ingrid Engen and Caroline Graham Hansen both had spells in Lower Saxony before being snapped up by Barcelona. Engen and Rolfö have become good friends as their careers have followed similar paths — both having left Wolfsburg with a piece of silverware in 2021.
"Ingrid Engen and I played together at Wolfsburg, too, so we have known each other for several years — and before we left, we won the German Cup. It was really fun and great to end my time in Wolfsburg with a trophy.
"It was an amazing day when I joined Barcelona. It was something I'd dreamed about. ... I wanted to start a new journey and a new experience with a new philosophy. I really thought I should get that here in Barcelona and I still feel the same."
50,000 fans expected
At least 50,000 tickets have been sold for Friday's semifinal as the Camp Nou is expected to welcome another huge crowd for a Barcelona game in the Champions League.
Barca's 5-2 quarterfinal victory over Real Madrid last month set a new record for a women's club game, with 91,553 fans in attendance. And, while Friday's game doesn't appear likely to hit those heights, it could still be the third-highest attendance ever for a club game.
Though tickets may be free to club members, such huge numbers of fans in the stadium still point to growing mainstream interest in the women's game, with Rolfö excited that more eyes than ever before are on these big matches.
"When I was younger, none of the young boys were looking up to any female football players. But today you can see small boys and girls playing in Alex Putellas shirts. You can see that this is moving fast and a lot is happening," she said.
"Role models are so important; when I grew up the female role models I had were so important," she said. "They made it possible for me to believe I could be a female football player and a professional athlete."
Edited by Chuck Penfold.