The Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand gets underway on Thursday. The United States have won the last two World Cups and are looking for a third, having lifted the trophy in 2015 in Canada and in 2019 in France.
It was in France, where the USWNT beat Spain in the Round of 16. Two goals from Megan Rapinoe turned the game around after Jennifer Hermoso netted for Spain.
That night the national team, by then coached by Jorge Vilda, packed their bags with the feeling that they could go toe-to-toe with the USA. In fact, in a friendly played in November at El Sadar, Spain beat the US with goals from Laia and Esther Gonzalez.
And now comes the World Cup in New Zealand and Australia with the bonus of having Alexia Putellas, who has recovered from the serious injury that kept her out for 10 months. It has not been an easy year for the double Ballon d’Or winner, with a lengthy recovery period, however, her mere presence, is already making itself felt at the World Cup Down Under.
Spain without Alexia
Days before the start of the last European Championships saw Alexia suffer an ACL injury in a tournament that England went on to win. The absence of the best player in the world was logically felt and Spain went out in the quarter-finals against the hosts and eventual winners.
Even after 10 months out, Putellas remains a star for Spain but she is a doubt for the World Cup opener against Costa Rica. Head coach Jorge Vilda will not take any risks and Alexia will only play if she has fully recovered.
With the Barcelona player firing, Spain will believe they can lift their first World Cup.
Kieran Quaile | GSFN