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2019 World Cup Preview: Spain

This World Cup might be two years early for a young Spanish side

England Women v Spain Women - International Friendly Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images

At all levels, Spanish soccer is growing up. Their U-17s won the 2018 World Cup, and their U-20s were runners-up at the 2018 World Cup to Japan. The senior side didn’t qualify for the Euros for the first time until 2013, and they reached the knockout stage in both that tournament and 2017’s. Domestic league attendance is making waves, with a crowd of 60,739, the largest ever for a women’s club match, watching Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid in Madrid this past season, and 48,121 watching a Copa de la Reina match between hosts Athletic Bilbao and Atletico Madrid. Will this wave of success roll all the way to France?

The Team

This Spanish team is young, featuring just three players 29 or older, and nine players 23 or younger. With none of those nine players having amassed even 25 caps, the youth movement has not fully arrived with Spain, but we may yet see it in France.

How They’ve Fared

This is Spain’s second World Cup. They failed to make it out of the group stage in 2015.

How They Qualified

Spain waltzed through UEFA qualifying, winning all eight of their Group 7 games with a +23 goal differential.

Group

B, with Germany, China, and South Africa

Player You Know

If it feels like Marta Torrejon has been around forever, there’s a good reason. Now 29, she broke into the senior team at Espanyol at the age of 14, staying there for nine years before moving across town to Barcelona. The defender is credited with 168 Barcelona appearances, and she’s the most capped active national team player with 85. She’s won the league three times, and the Copa de la Reina seven times, and she’s the Spanish captain. You’ve probably heard of her.

Player You’ll Know Soon

With 77 goals in 198 appearances for Barcelona, you might already know Alexia Putellas. The 25-year-old attacker may not get as much attention as players with more caps like Jenni Hermoso, but the world will get to see Putellas’s skill and flair this summer.

World Cup Outlook

The draw for Spain was unfortunate. The most likely scenario for them is to lose to Germany in group play, but advance via a second place finish. If that happens, they would play the Group F winner in the round of 16, which is probably going to be the United States. While that’s a game they could win, I wouldn’t bet on it.