With the best player in the world in the team, Spain can finally call themselves one of the favorites for the title in a major women’s football tournament.
Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas will lead Spain into this year’s European Championship, where the Spaniards will be looking to break through after years of lackluster appearances on the international stage.
The tournament is scheduled for July 6-31 at 10 stadiums in eight cities across England, including the final at Wembley.
The Spanish squad will be boosted by significant growth in the sport in the country in recent years, with Barcelona winning their first Champions League title and Real Madrid establishing their own women’s team – all since the last World Cup in 2019.
Putellas shines a spotlight on a golden generation of players and is one of nine members of a Barcelona side that came close to winning a second successive Champions League title in May. She was named Champions League Player of the Season and was the tournament’s top scorer with 11 goals. She also won FIFA and UEFA Player of the Year awards.
“She is young and, above all, passionate about football and understands it very well, which not all players have,” Spain coach Jorge Vilda said of Putellas. “She has so much quality, sees things before others and executes everything with pace and style.”
Putellas scored Spain’s goal in a 1-1 draw with Italy on Friday in the team’s final warm-up game ahead of their Euro debut against Finland on July 8.
It was Putellas’ 100th game for Spain, making her the first female player to reach the milestone with the national team.
“I’m happy because I never thought I’d reach this mark,” she said after Friday’s game. “It’s the result of a lot of work over the years. I hope there will be many more games to come, and many titles as well.
The draw with Italy extended an unbeaten streak for Spain that began in March 2020. The Spaniards were coming off a 7-0 rout of Australia in their previous warm-up game.
The team’s golden generation of players includes María León, Irene Paredes, Aitana Bonmati and Manchester City new signings Laia Aleixandri and Leila Ouahabi.
Spain have done well in youth tournaments recently, winning the 2018 Under-17 World Cup with a squad that included Claudia Pina, also part of this month’s Euros squad. The team will be missing a veteran, however, as Jennifer Hermoso was ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury.
Spain, ranked seventh in the world all-time, are in Group B with Finland, Denmark and eight-time European champions Germany.
Spain’s best result at the Women’s Euros was a semi-final in 1997. They reached the quarter-finals in 2013 and 2017.
He qualified for the round of 16 of the 2019 World Cup in France, losing 2-1 against the United States. He has reached the final of every major tournament for the past nine years.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Azzoni Tales on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni