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Vicky Losada on Barcelona’s growth, Champions League glory & her plant based diet

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Not many players choose to leave Barcelona on multiple occasions.

Vicky Losada has done just that – three times to be precise – with each of her exits marking a symbolic step in the growth of Barcelona’s women’s team.

After progressing through the club’s esteemed La Masia academy, Losada first left Barcelona in 2007 following their relegation to the second tier.

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They bounced straight back and Losada returned the following season. However, with the club not becoming a professional outfit until summer 2015, Losada left to join Arsenal in March of that year. She came back for her third bite of the Barca cherry 20 months later.

“I went abroad to be professional and I came back to a club that was professional,” Losada told 90min.

The midfielder emotionally announced her departure from Barcelona for a third time in June 2021; a little over a fortnight after she had captained the club to their maiden Champions League title.

“I think it was the perfect way,” she explains. “Winning the Champions League helped me because it was my dream to do it defending those colours. As a footballer and with such a long career you know when you’re [at] an end of a cycle.

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“I think that was my time to go, and I was never expecting that good bye and all the love from all the fans, and I was never expecting how much women’s football was going to grow. I actually still look at photos and feel so lucky that I’ve lived through that in my career.”

Some of the most iconic pictures from that famous night in Gothenburg are of Losada; Champions League trophy clasped in her hand and nets draped around her shoulders like a scarf.

“When I was growing up I couldn’t watch women’s football because they weren’t showing it on TV, so my dreams came from the men’s football,” Losada says. “So I always remember [Gerard] Pique taking the nets with Barca, and you just want to be like that when you win.

“It was a great moment to take a bit of the net – I mean I think we nearly took all of it… I have just a little piece at home. I feel so lucky how everything ended and everything that Barca has given me.”

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Barcelona’s achievements during the 2020/21 season had been years in the making. Since turning professional, the club’s philosophy has been to invest in their crop of first team and academy players; Losada was one of nine La Masia graduates in the squad for Barcelona’s 2020/21 Champions League triumph.

This approach did not garner success overnight.

Barcelona finished as league runners up to Atletico Madrid four years on the bounce, and were beaten 4-1 by Lyon in the 2019 Champions League final.

But the club stormed to the treble in 2021, securing European glory with a devastating 4-0 victory over Chelsea. And all while playing the Barcelona way.

“Even at the very start we used to play against Wolfsburg, Lyon, all the big, big teams in Europe. And we never lost our identity of that loving the game, showing the beautiful football, but we were just not ready,” Losada says. “We had dreams that then on the pitch we couldn’t achieve.

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“In the end we [went] from a team with dreams to a winning team. Just a machine of winning games, and the way we were doing it, for me, I think is what made it very special.

“It didn’t really change when we were making substitutions, the style was there. A lot of players were from La Masia and it was just an amazing moment; I think it is really, really hard that that happens again the same way.”

Losada had previously voiced her intention to retire at Barcelona, but she was tempted away from her childhood club by Manchester City and the challenge of the WSL.

“When I left Arsenal, I never wanted to leave because I was giving really good performances and I knew the league was going to make me better because of the players,” she adds. “The commitment and everything that was going on here was amazing. But I wanted to come back to my home and be part of that process that I believed was going to take us to win the Champions League – and that’s what happened.

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“I think life in the end brought me back here and I can say again now that the investment from TV, marketing revenues, everyone – the women’s football is just amazing.”

Losada’s uniqueness in football extends beyond her multiple departures from Barcelona.

The 31-year-old doesn’t eat meat, and her diet is 90% plant based. She initially made the change in 2019 to aide her recovery from injury. With the help of a nutritionist, she progressively made this diet permanent.

“Definitely now even in my numbers in performance [improve]; the weights, everything I do every day,” Losada explains. “And my body feels way nicer. Going plant based just makes me feel way better.”

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Vicky Losada

Losada uses pistachios as a source of protein / American Pistachio Growers

The wider benefits of a plant based diet also appeal to Losada. You can’t help but draw comparisons between her and another environmentally conscious, Spanish, former Arsenal player.

“I remember watching a documentary of Hector Bellerin and he had a big injury and he changed his diet, and his life in general changed completely,” she adds. “I think he was one of the first footballers to speak about plant based.

“It’s one of the best things I’ve done in my life because also now you realise that this helps the environment, and makes the world happier and better.

“I actually think when I retire I will still be plant based. But for me I’m conscious about animals, the change we are making in the world with all the impact we’re making with wrong habits. If I can be a small help, I’m proud to be part of it.” 

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Vicky Losada was speaking as part of her work with American Pistachio Growers. Pistachios are a convenient snack, with a high antioxidant capacity, that make up a complete protein. They are also portable and don’t require any preparation. Vicky incorporates pistachios into her training diet to fuel her active lifestyle, and to help refuel and recover before and after a match.





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How Karim Benzema could return for France at World Cup

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Karim Benzema may be available to France for their World Cup defence after all after reports emerged of rapid progress in his recovery from injury.

Benzema was feared to be unavailable for the entire tournament after picking up an injury but did not withdraw from the squad, and France manager Didier Deschamps did not call up a replacement, instead opting to take 25 players to Qatar.

Initially feared to be out for around three weeks, Benzema had been the subject of multiple reports in Spain which claim that the Ballon d’Or winner is ahead of that schedule, and he could return to training as early as this week.

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Given he remains a part of the France squad, Benzema is technically still eligible to play at the World Cup and could return to Qatar if all goes well.

Harry Symeou hosts Scott Saunders and Toby Cudworth to look back on South Korea/Japan ’02 as part of the ‘Our World Cup’ series. We take a trip down memory lane – join us!

If you can’t see the podcast embed, click to download or listen to the episode in full!

France have made a strong start to their World Cup defence with victories over Australia and Denmark securing their spot in the last 16 with one group game to spare.

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Les Bleus play Tunisia on Wednesday to round out the group stages, before looking ahead to the knockout stages.



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Who could England face in the World Cup knockout stages?

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Four points from their opening two games have England in the driving seat in Group B at the World Cup.

One final game against Wales will decide whether they reach the knockout stages as group winners or runners up, though there remains the outside chance of an early elimination.

Gareth Southgate will be planning for the knockout stage, however, with a myriad of different nations standing between his squad and the World Cup final.

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Harry Symeou hosts Scott Saunders and Toby Cudworth to look back on South Korea/Japan ’02 as part of the ‘Our World Cup’ series. We take a trip down memory lane – join us!

If you can’t see the podcast embed, click here to download or listen to the episode in full!

England currently top Group B and a win would take them through in first place. A draw is also good enough to progress, though that would open the door for Iran to take first place with a win over the USA.

Only a thrashing of three or more goals from Wales will result in an early elimination for the Three Lions.

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England will have designs on going through the group stage as winners, which would result in a favourable last 16 clash against the runners up of Group A, where the Netherlands, Ecuador and Senegal reside. Finishing second in Group B would see England face the winners of Group A.

As group winners, a win in the round of 16 would see Southgate’s side book a quarter-final clash with either the Group D winners – likely to be France – or the runners up from Group C, where Poland, Argentina, Saudi Arabia and Mexico are all still in contention.

As group runners up, a win in the round of 16 would set up a quarter-final tie against the Group C winners or the runners up from Group D.

There are a number of sides England could face in the semi-finals, but all come from Groups E, F, G and H. That pool includes nations like Spain, Japan, Croatia, Belgium, Brazil and Portugal.

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Gareth Bale responds to question on Wales international future

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Gareth Bale shut down questions on whether the World Cup match against England would be his last for Wales on Tuesday, issuing a flat “no” when asked the question outright.

The Welsh captain is his country’s most capped men’s international player, though speculation has been surrounding the 33-year-old’s future at both club and international level for a number of months.

Bale moved to LAFC in MLS in order to prepare for the World Cup after leaving Real Madrid, and while he scored an equaliser against the United States in game one of Wales’ tournament in Qatar the team have underperformed on the whole, losing 2-0 to Iran last time out.

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They need a win against England to stand any chance of making it through to the knockout stages, and are dependent on other results. Wales’ position in the group and potential fate has naturally produced questions about what happens beyond the England game if Wales go home, but Bale flat out dismissed the question with a no.

Bale did though go into detail on his side’s campaign in Qatar so far, admitting the mood in the camp was low after conceding twice to Iran.

“We’re disappointed in the results and the performances,” he said a day out from the England match. “But that’s football, it’s not easy, we’re at a World Cup against some very good teams and we’ll always give 100%. We’ve been working hard the last few days to make things better and correct things.

“We don’t need to get anyone going, just need to keep working hard and hopefully things will turn around for us.

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“I don’t feel [added] responsibility because we’re a team. We’re a nation and we work hard for each other. We need to deliver as a team, it’s not one person that needs to do anything. Of course we’d have loved to be winning and doing a lot better but the reality is, football is hard. If it was that easy we’d be favourites to win the World Cup. We need to stick together and we’ll give 100% tomorrow like we always do.

“The one thing I always do is give 100%. I was flying into tackles in the 90th minute the other day. I’ll just try and lead by example.”

Harry Symeou hosts Scott Saunders and Toby Cudworth to look back on South Korea/Japan ’02 as part of the ‘Our World Cup’ series. We take a trip down memory lane – join us!

If you can’t see the podcast embed, click here to download or listen to the episode in full!

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The World Cup has seen a number of shock results occur to date, with Argentina losing to Saudi Arabia and Morocco beating Belgium among others. Wales beating England would be a result in a similar bracket, but Bale is confident England have weaknesses to exploit.

“Everyone has weaknesses. We’ve done our homework. We’ve had meetings and I’m sure they’ve done the same with us. We know how difficult it will be. England are a very good team, They’re one of the favourites to win the tournament. We are under no illusions, it will be hard, we’re going to give everything like we always do.

“There’s been a few shocks in the tournament already and there’s no reason why we can’t do the same.”

Wales manager Rob Page hinted during his own press conference that Bale or Aaron Ramsey would not necessarily start the game against England, hinting at a need for fresh blood with Wales struggling for energy at times during their opening matches.

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Bale is one of the leading players in the camp and remains firm that the team remain together and confident of turning things around against England.

“Yeah of course we have our responsibility to help everybody,” he added. “At this current moment we are not in the greatest of positions and we have not had an amazing tournament. But it is football, it is not easy. It is difficult. The main thing for us all is that we have stuck together as a group, like we have always done.

“We will fight again. We will go on the pitch and give everything. You saw our reaction when we conceded against Iran, how devastated we all were, lying on the floor. Heartbroken. After the game everybody was upset. No one can ever question our commitment but we will all stick together through thick and thin, through the ups and downs. We will give everything again tomorrow.”



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