Opinion: Ellie Roebuck shines in UWCL despite Man City loss to Barcelona

Ellie Roebuck

Manchester City have a huge task ahead of them if they want to secure a spot in this year's Champions League semi-finals. The Women's Super League side were carved open by a watertight Barcelona, who clocked a 3-0 win in Italy this afternoon.

Asisat Oshoala opened up the scoring for the Primera Iberdrola leaders, striking a clean ball into the bottom corner of Ellie Roebuck's net ten minutes before half-time. After giving away a penalty in the second half, City crumbled under the pressure of Barcelona's attack, who dispatched their second goal through Mariona's spot-kick, followed by a late third from substitute Jennifer Hermoso. 

Although the scoreline doesn't flatter a resilient Barca side, it certainly doesn't paint Man City's stalwart goalkeeper in the correct light.

Roebuck was one of very few positives for Gareth Taylor to take away from the European defeat. Before Oshoala broke the deadlock in the 35th minute, the Lioness was alert to every chance the Catalonians created. A strong block with her feet to deny Oshoala a chance earlier in the first half should have been a pivotal moment for City to regroup and push on in attack.

Just minutes later, Roebuck sprung into action again to deny Barcelona. Aitana Bonmati's attempt was pushed away by a fingertip save from the England international – it looked as though nothing would get the better of the 21-year-old this afternoon.

Roebuck shines despite heavy defeat

On paper, a 3-0 defeat suggests a defensive disaster. However this couldn't be further from Roebuck's performance in Monza.

Barca had eight shots on target, testing the young stopper's pedigree with their huge attacking flair. Man City's backline looked nervous throughout the 90 minutes and left the 'keeper to mop up a lot of messy situations.

Roebuck's calibre makes it extremely easy to forget how young she still is. Her journey to the most elite level of women's football has gone under the radar due to how smooth a transition it has been. Since the absence of Karen Bardsley at City through injury, the young Lioness has made easy work of stepping up to the plate not just domestically, but also on international duty.

Roebuck continues to keep the likes of Bardsley and Carly Telford off the top spot for England, whilst also snubbing other talented goalkeepers such as Hannah Hampton and Mary Earps. 

She recently penned a new deal at club level, committing her future to the Manchester outfit until 2024. Taylor expressed his delight over securing Roebuck for another three years after becoming one of his most reliable players since he replaced Nick Cushing in May 2020.

His predecessor, who guided City to two FA Cups and a WSL title, was also a driving force behind Roebuck's rapid climb into the spotlight. Speaking to the club last year before his departure, Cushing said: "Ellie can achieve whatever she wants in the game.

"She can be England’s number one for sure but she has to make sure she works incredibly hard to stay fit and focused, keeping the ball out of the goal, using her feet… all parts of the game."

Manchester City will have one last chance to get themselves back into the competition when they face Barcelona in the reverse fixture on March 31st.

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