Christen Press believes that the NWSL is one of the most entertaining leagues in the world.

On the latest episode of The RE-CAP Show, Press discusses the action in the NWSL Championship with co-host Tobin Heath. Gotham FC held off OL Reign 2-1 on Nov. 11 to win their first championship and send Ali Krieger off into retirement on a high note.

“I asked for this match to showcase the NWSL at its best,” said Press, a two-time World Cup champion with the U.S. women’s national team. “And say what you will about the NWSL, the style of play, transition, yada yada — I think it’s the most entertaining league in the world.

“It’s open, it’s energetic, and there’s tons of goals, and I think we got the NWSL at its best during this final match.”

This comes as debate has gone on about which is better: European leagues or the NWSL. Gotham FC forward and World Cup champion Esther González of Spain praised the NWSL for its level of play.

“One of the biggest differences with the Spanish League, which is a great league, is that here all the games, absolutely all of them, are like a Champions League game, at the highest level,” she said after the championship game. “In Spain, there are some games that you can win four or five to zero, that your physical wear and tear is normal, that you have everything under control.

“Here, every game is like playing against Barça, which is the best team in the Spanish League: Your level has to be the maximum, your physical demand is the maximum, and that happens weekend after weekend.”

But others, like USWNT star Lindsey Horan, have opted for Europe and the Champions League. USWNT teammates Mia Fishel and Catarina Macario are also overseas, playing for Chelsea, whose coach Emma Hayes was just announced as the next manager of the USWNT.

And Horan would like to see more USWNT players head overseas to get acquainted with different styles of play.

“I’ve heard of [American] players wanting to [move to Europe],” Horan told Pro Soccer Wire. “Obviously, it’s comfortable in the NWSL and I won’t take anything away from the league, but for me, [playing abroad] has always been a growing point in my career. When I went to PSG, it was massive for me and then coming back to Lyon was even a bigger jump. I get to play with some of the best international players in the world.”

“It’s not a knock on the NWSL, but you’re just not going and playing in the Champions League,” she continued. “That’s something that I missed out on when I was at Portland because it’s just insane.”

The Women’s First Division in Spain will kick off this weekend after a deal was reached to end the league’s referee strike.

The start of the regular season was postponed a week as referees demanded improved “employment and economic conditions.”

After months of back and forth, the Spanish FA announced an agreement Thursday that will make the women’s league referees professional. The move comes as the Spanish women’s soccer league embarks on its first fully professionalized season.

“It is a fantastic agreement for our referees that comes through the effort of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and the CSD,” said Yolanda Parga, the head of women’s referees in Spain.

The parties inked a six-year deal, with Spain’s National Sports Council (CSD) agreeing to contribute to the referees’ pensions for the first three years and the Professional Women’s Football League (LPFF) for the remaining three years.

Reigning champions Barcelona defeated Tenerife 2-0 Saturday in the club’s first match under the league’s new agreement.

Spain’s new professional women’s league did not kick off as planned Saturday, with opening matches postponed due to a referee strike.

The league’s referees announced their strike Thursday, refusing to take the pitch until their demands for better working conditions are met. Officiating crews are asking for improved wages, stating that the €320 ($322) referees and the €160 ($161) assistants make per game is not efficient.

“We referees want to provide the best possible service to football, and this necessarily involves obtaining working conditions close to those of the men’s first division,” the referees said in a statement.

This year marks the first season of a fully professional Spanish women’s league, with players long fighting for enhanced working conditions and fair competition.

The president of Spain’s women’s league, Beatriz Álvarez, has pointed the finger at the Spanish soccer federation, blaming government officials for the referee strike.

“The Spanish soccer federation has from the very start tried to boycott the professional women’s league and the Higher Sports Council has allowed it to do so,” Álvarez said.

Barcelona is the reigning Spanish league champions, taking home the title the last three seasons.

England superstar Lucy Bronze is heading to European powerhouse Barcelona, with the club announcing the news Saturday.

The 30-year-old defender signed a two-year deal with Barcelona, joining the team on free transfer from Manchester City.

Bronze made 111 appearances in her two-year tenure with the Women’s Super League club, taking home five trophies.

Representing England at this summer’s European Championship, Bronze will connect with her new team after the tournament.

Bronze joins Barcelona on the heels of a landmark season, with the club completing a domestic treble, winning all 30 of their league matches while making a Champions League final run before falling to Lyon in the title game.

Lieke Martens is heading to Paris Saint-Germain, with the club signing the Dutch forward to a three-year deal from Barcelona.

The 29-year-old announced the move on social media Friday, writing, “I am very excited to announce this news about the next step in my career! So happy and proud to start this new adventure in Paris and to be part of this incredible team and club.”

Friday’s news comes after the star striker wrote a heartfelt goodbye to Barcelona on her Instagram Thursday, revealing her departure from the Spanish club.

“After five beautiful years at this fantastic club in this beautiful city I have decided to part ways with the club and start a new adventure. I came to FC Barcelona in a time that the club started an ambitious project to become a leader in the world of women’s football. We worked hard and I believe that we achieved the goals set 5 years ago,” wrote Martens. “It’s time for another adventure and I want to thank the club, coaches, staff, fans and of course all my teammates that have supported me to become the player I am today. Thank you for all your support and love, all the best and see you all soon again.”

In her five-year tenure with Barcelona, Martens logged 156 appearances, scoring 73 goals to help the club to a Champions League trophy and nine domestic titles.

PSG finished second in the French league this season, 15 points behind rivals Lyon.

Barcelona completed the domestic treble Sunday by capturing its third consecutive Copa de la Reina title, which joins the club’s La Liga and the Spanish Super Cup trophies from this season.

Six different Barcelona players scored in the club’s 6-1 win over Sporting Huelva to secure the club’s ninth Copa de la Reina championship.

Barcelona posted an impressive 30-0 perfect Primera Division record in La Liga and finished its campaign with wins in all 36 domestic matchups,

The club’s latest trophy comes after a heartbreaking loss to Lyon in the Champions League final, in which Barcelona fell to the French side 3-1.

Barcelona’s Irene Paredes has enjoyed getting to see the success of the club since its professionalization in 2015.

That success includes winning the Primera Division and the Spanish cup multiple times. The club also claimed its first-ever UEFA Women’s Champions League trophy last year to complete the treble for the first time in its history.

Barcelona has had a record-breaking run in the lead up to this year’s WCL final, selling out games at Camp Nou and setting the world record for women’s soccer attendance not once but twice.

The club also completed a perfect 30-win season in the Primera Division.

“It’s been a really fast development,” said Paredes, referencing the fact that the club was only professionalized seven years ago. “But it’s just the consequence of a lot of work, a lot of people with a lot of enthusiasm and ideas working together. They really wanted a female football club doing great things.”

As for selling out Camp Nou, the defender said she and her teammates were in awe over the turnout.

“It was amazing, we couldn’t understand and believe it,” she said. “When they put the tickets on sale, we didn’t expect to have all of those sales in two days. We were wondering if all of the people would come, and of course they did and they’ve been screaming and helping us to win the game against Real Madrid.

“The second time against Wolfsburg, it was also a surprise because it was another new record. People could say that it’s lucky, that they gave a lot of tickets [away], but no, most of the people paid for tickets. They came to cheer us on and that’s because they want to support us.

“I hope the rest of the world is looking to us to try to do the same.”

This season marks the second time in Paredes’ career that she’s made a Champions League final. She played for Paris Saint-Germain when that club finished as runner-up in 2017.

She knows how difficult it is to make it to this point, and to play against a club like Olympique Lyonnais, which has won seven WCL titles – including a record-breaking run of five from 2016-2020.

“If we win that final, knowing the importance that Lyon has in Europe and the world, of course it would be amazing,” she said. “But it’s not about winning [against] Lyon, it’s just about winning the second time in a row.

“This last year has been a lot of work, a lot of good results. Of course we want to win and it would add strength to keep fighting to become the best team in the world. If not, our season has been amazing and the club wants more and we are working for that.

“We don’t want to be the new Lyon. We just want to be the new champions.”

The Champions League final will kick off at 1 p.m. ET Saturday on DAZN’s YouTube channel.

A total of 91,553 fans attended Wednesday’s quarterfinal match between Barcelona and Real Madrid at Camp Nou, breaking the world record for attendance at a women’s soccer match.

Fans in attendance got a treat as five different Barcelona players found the back of the next in the 5-2 win. As a result, Barcelona advances to the Women’s Champions League semifinals after winning both quarterfinal matches and the aggregate 8-3.

The club will face either Arsenal or Wolfsburg in the next round.

María Pilar León got things started in the eighth minute before Madrid’s Olga Carmona responded in the 16th minute. Claudia Zornoza helped Madrid take a 2-1 lead before the floodgates opened for Barcelona.

Aitana Bonmati, Clàudia Pina, Alexia Putellas and Caroline Graham Hansen all found the back of the net as Barcelona rattled off four unanswered goals.

After the game, the stadium chanted in song to celebrate the win.

Tickets sold out two months in advance of the match. Putellas called it a turning point for the women’s game.

“I believe that tomorrow can be the start of a new era, because at the end of the day, tomorrow’s match is going to be inspiring for so many girls, I am guessing, that will be coming tomorrow to Camp Nou or who will be seeing us from TV,” Putellas said. “They will be seeing women playing in Camp Nou, and I am sure in the future, in the mid or long run, we will be collecting the fruits of tomorrow’s match.”

Barcelona and Real Madrid’s UEFA Women’s Champions League quarterfinal will be one for the history books, with the two clubs set to face off in front of a record crowd at Camp Nou on Wednesday.

The second leg of the Champions League quarterfinal is the third El Clásico women’s rivalry game in the last month, with Barcelona holding a 2-0 record over Real Madrid and a 3-1 aggregate lead in the Champions League battle.

Tickets for Wednesday’s marquee match sold out two months ahead of time. Barcelona’s women’s team has played at the historic Camp Nou stadium just once before. That 50th-anniversary game between Barcelona and Espanyol, honoring the first women’s game ever played at the venue, was held behind closed doors without fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This time, over 80,000 spectators will be in attendance. If that number holds, the match will break the record for the largest attendance at a women’s domestic club game. Barcelona currently holds the domestic club record, with 60,739 showing up to the team’s 2019 game against Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.

Barcelona captain Alexia Putellas visited Camp Nou often as a child, but she never imagined herself playing in the stadium. The 28-year-old star is trying her best to keep a level head amid the excitement of the moment.

“I have been in Camp Nou so many times all my life. Tomorrow is me playing, but at the end of the day, it’s the same as Johan Cruyff field,” Putellas told reporters on Tuesday, referring to their usual home stadium that seats 6,000 spectators. “I think the time has come … we, the players, feel now empowered and ready to play in front of so many people, such a large audience.”

The game will also serve as a celebration of the growth of women’s soccer and a push for equity. The words “More than Empowerment” will appear on the Lateral terrace as a reminder of its significance.

“I believe that tomorrow can be the start of a new era, because at the end of the day, tomorrow’s match is going to be inspiring for so many girls, I am guessing, that will be coming tomorrow to Camp Nou or who will be seeing us from TV,” Putellas said. “They will be seeing women playing in Camp Nou, and I am sure in the future, in the mid or long run, we will be collecting the fruits of tomorrow’s match.”

The bubbling enthusiasm off the pitch will almost certainly be matched by the intensity on the pitch, with both sides eager to meet the moment.

“Of course, we are aware of the fact that players have a special feeling regarding tomorrow’s match, but when it comes to preparation and training, nothing has changed,” said Barcelona coach Jonatan Giráldez.

Barcelona, the reigning UEFA Champions League winners, are considered by many to be the most dominant club in women’s soccer. The team enters Wednesday’s second leg on a staggering 35-game win streak across all competitions. Barcelona clinched the league title for the third straight season with a 5-0 rout of Real Madrid on March 13, adding to their 25-0 Primera División record.

Putellas, the 2021 Ballon d’Or winner, leads Barcelona’s Champions League campaign with seven goals and two assists. Midfielder Jennifer Hermoso is next with four goals in five matches. Deploying a possession-minded playing style, Barcelona is one of the hardest clubs for opponents to break down.

That’s just what Real Madrid will try to do, however, in their Champions League duel. The feat, while a tall order, isn’t impossible. Real Madrid stunned Barcelona in the first leg of the quarterfinal last week when Olga Carmona put her side up 1-0 in the eighth minute, forcing the visitors to mount a second-half comeback behind a brace from Putellas.

“Of course, it’s very useful to start losing a match. We don’t like it, but it’s useful,” Giráldez siad of Barcelona’s come-from-behind win. “Mentally, we need to be ready to pull ourselves together, do things better, catch up.”

Expecting Madrid to come out pressing and attacking, Barcelona will look to maintain possession and dictate the game’s tempo from the opening whistle.

“We want more every time,” Barcelona midfielder Ingrid Syrstad Engen said. “In Barcelona, it’s not enough to win, it’s about how you play, and I think that’s in the roots of this team,”

Barcelona will advance to the Champions League semifinals if they can maintain or improve upon their 3-1 aggregate lead.

The historic game kicks off Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. ET, streaming for free in the United States on DAZN’s UEFA Women’s Champions League YouTube channel.

Clare Brennan is an associate editor at Just Women’s Sports.

FC Barcelona’s new documentary series called “Matchday – Queens of the Pitch” will air Friday. The series aims to provide an inside look at the historic 2020-21 Barcelona Women’s season.

Barcelona won the league, the cup and the UEFA Women’s Champions League last season, completing the historic treble for the first time in club history.

As a result, the awards continued to roll in, with Alexia Putellas winning the 2021 Ballon d’Or and Best FIFA Women’s Player of 2021. Jennifer Hermoso was among the finalists for both awards.

The club has had a record-breaking start to 2022, selling out Camp Nou for their upcoming Champions League quarterfinal game.

The series will run in six, 30-minute episodes produced by Barca Studios. It will be available in Catalan, Spanish and English with the first two episodes available on Barca TV+. The first episode will be free while the rest will require a subscription.