Jorge Vilda will be taking the positives of the 2019 World Cup campaign into this year’s SheBelieves tournament with a pinch of salt considering the opponents Spain face.
La Roja have the unenviable task of taking on the team that knocked them out at the last 16 stage last year, a former World Cup-winning side, and the reigning SheBelieves Cup champions.
But despite having such a daunting prospect on his hands, Vilda’s Spain team go into this tournament with the hope of once again lighting the fire for women’s football.
Below, we’ve listed our Spain team guide for you to delve into in the build-up to Vilda’s opening game. Without further ado…
What you need to know
Coach: Jorge Vilda
Captain: Irene Paredes
Previous results: N/A
Spain players’ recent form
The Spaniards were another team at the mercy of the US during last summer’s World Cup.
True, they were also unfortunate to be on the wrong side of another controversial Video Assistant Referee (VAR) decision, when Rose Lavelle was adjudged to have been fouled in the box, though contact was minimal.
But up stepped Megan Rapinoe to net from 12 yards and put the champs back in the lead. And the rest, as they say, is history.
In the upcoming months, between strikes for equal pay throughout the Primera Division and a lack of game time, international fixtures have been seldom played. Yet, wind back the months to Spain’s 2019 World Cup campaign, and it’s clear that with Vilda at the helm, there is always an opportunity for a SheBelieves upset.
Players to watch
Although Spain may have been unlucky during the summer World Cup, it was clear that under Vilda’s careful tutelage, there were some bright sparks to note of. Leading the charge are:
Jenni to the rest of the team, and a name that you’ll have heard thrown around during and before the summer World Cup. And for good worth considering the Barcelona striker has made a name for herself through her clinical finishing skills; she was the top scorer of the Liga Iberdrola last season with 24 goals, and is currently in good form — an accolade that is sure to put the best defences, including Lucy Bronze and Co, to the test.
Garcia has showcased her attacking worth on more than one occasion over the last year. From the famous brace against South Africa in 2019 to her consistent scoring in last summer’s World Cup qualifiers, it’s clear that alongside Hermoso, the 21-year-old possesses the skill and strength to be a thorn in the side of all three SheBelieves rivals.
Slight of frame she may be, but the young Spaniard has already hit the ground running on the international scene, having been a World Cup runner-up with both the U-17s and U-20s. As such, this makes her a prime candidate for rising stars, especially with the skill and technical ability that Bonmati possesses.
The captain no less brings up the rear in our list of Spanish stars set to light up this March’s SheBelieves Cup. Indeed, with Paredes in the side, the team has looked a lot more stable, thanks to the experience and defensive know-how that the 28-year-old brings. Leading out from the back will be key against the likes of Rapinoe and White.
Where will Spain finish at the SheBelieves Cup?
For all their young attacking talent, Spain have struggled to contain teams defensively, especially those of the USA and England’s ilk. After all, while Parades has been a rock amidst the back four for Vilda, the manner in which they were cut through during the World Cup suggests that there is still work to do defensively.
Spain will instead have to put all their hope in their attacking players, the likes of Hermoso and Bonmati, who appeared to be more than capable of taking on the World Champions a few months ago.
All in all, it seems that the Spaniards and the Japanese will be contesting for third and fourth positions in the SheBelieves Cup, though there is every chance the former will topple the latter.