Spain enters the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup on an incredible run of form after winning all eight of their qualifying matches, as reported by The Guardian. However, with one of the most difficult groups in the tournament, where they will match up against Germany, China, and South Africa, and the likelihood of facing the United States in the knockout stages, the Spanish women will have one of the most difficult paths to the World Cup final.
Still, Spain has reason to be optimistic about their chances in France. Their U-17 team won their world and European championships, their U-19 team won the Euros, and their U-20 team finished second in the World Cup, proving that the senior team may be on the cusp of a golden generation. With the majority of the squad made up of players from the Spanish League’s two powerhouse teams, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, Spain has no shortage of players that have proven themselves on the highest stage, but will that talent finally shine through in France?
In Spain’s second time competing in the Women’s World Cup, they will be hoping to erase any memory of their disastrous 2015 team, which saw the women crash out in the group stages and the players rebel against manager Ignacio Quereda, which led to him being sacked after more than two decades in charge of the team. The 37-year-old Jorge Vilda took charge in the aftermath, and while the quarterfinal elimination in Euro 2017 was underwhelming, he did win the European Championship with the women’s U-19 team in 2017 and 2018.
Since taking over the side, Vilda has pushed for a more team-oriented style for Spain, emphasizing this clearly by leaving veteran star forward Vero Boquete out of the squad during his entire reign. While Spain lacks any talisman-style players that would dominate headlines, their cohesiveness and chemistry, developed by being spread across so few teams, make them one of the most interesting teams to follow in the tournament. While the team will lean on striker Jenni Hermoso to deal with their recent scoring issues, their fluid style will be a joy to watch for the neutral.
After such a disappointing 2015 tournament, expectations for Spain outside of the country seem to be almost irrationally low. While Spanish supporters may be happy to simply make it out of the tournament without embarrassing themselves on the international stage, Spain has the talent and style to make a run. It all comes down to maximizing their talent in the group stages and avoiding the giants that await in the knockout stages.