“It does not bother me that they compare me with Messi but I would like people to know me as Banini”

Is great to hear how women’s football is growing and increasing every day in popularity and game, after having so many struggles in previous years. And is also a good fact that women football have players that can be compared to men football iconic faces. That’s the case of Leo Messi, FC Barcelona, and Estefanía Banini, Levante UD, who’s starting to be a sensation of women’s football.

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Leo Messi and Estefanía Banini are two sides of the same coin. Both share the ’10’ of the Argentine national team, they are great ambassadors of their country in Spain, they make the ‘Gambetta’ (dribbling) on the pitch an art and they’re clearly decisive in the one on one.

“I’m not bothered by the comparison with Messi, it’s very nice to be compared with one of the best players in the world and he’s also Argentine, but I’d like them to begin to know us by name and stop comparisons; for me, but for all the female soccer figures”, claims the Levante player for the prestigious Spanish outlet ‘MARCA’.

“We are in the middle of a fight to make women’s football more popular, more popular and attractive, and it would be very nice to have an impact like Messi’s,” she said.

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Banini started playing soccer at the age of just five, but it was not until her adolescence that she was able to start living on the ball. She went through Colo-Colo, Washington Spirit in two stages and Valencia before she landed in the Levante with the current season started.

“There is a lot of difference compared to my previous stage in Spain, especially in a league that continues to grow, the level of the teams has risen a lot and there is the Levante betting strong with a very serious and attractive project,” says Estefanía.

Questioned about Levante’s goals this season, Banini was honest: “We have hope for everything, we want the best for the club and we work for it.” We have to be aware that we are a new team, that we are still getting to know each other, but we are fighting for the first place and that is very important.”

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Levante occupies the third position of the Iberdrola League with 39 points in 16 matches, 3 points behind Barcelona, which they play against this Saturday, and 6 of the leaders, Atlético de Madrid.

“It will be a very tough game that we face as an opportunity to get in second place, we try to focus on our game and, although we know that they have changed coaches this week, I do not think it should affect us when preparing the game. We’ll try to play them as equals and, this is football, everything can happen,” she analyzes about the upcoming match. Last time they played, both teams tied 0-0 so everything could happen.

The Mendoza player is in one of the sweetest moments of its race, with only 28-years-old. A special season that could culminate in style with the Women’s World Cup in France, which Argentina qualified after finishing third in the Copa América last year. “We have been very happy for 12 years that Argentina did not qualify for a World Cup and it is very important to be there for a country like ours where there is no positive culture for women,” said Banini.

“We will try to leave everything in each game, we understand that there are other teams that take us years apart, but we can say that the attitude of the Argentine team will surprise many,” she says. Argentina is framed in Group D of the World Cup with England, Scotland and Japan. “It would be very nice to play against Spain in the World Cup, they have a style that I really like and it’s one of the reasons why I came here to play.”

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In the minds of all the image of the women’s albiceleste national team in the Copa America 2018 still persists asking to be heard by their Federation. “We went to play the Copa America with hardly any preparation and that’s why we did it, now we have a Federation that is getting a little bit more involved, that is getting to know women’s football, it’s a lot of work but they’ve started doing things well, but obviously we want more,” Banini said at the end.

We’ll need to wait, but Argentina has already marked its road map friendly against South Korea (February 28), New Zealand (March 3) and Australia (March 6) as preparation for the World Cup in France. Although, at the moment, the priority for Estefanía is to shine in the Ciudad Deportiva de Buñol against FC Barcelona (Saturday, 1:00 pm).

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