Discovering the Spanish national team: A closer look ahead of the Arnold Clark Cup

"We Call It Fut Fem" – A Her Football Hub Spanish Column

Our readers may know the Spanish National Team, but in this article, you will learn more about the team and their history. England’s Arnold Clark Cup tournament from February 17th to 23rd will be a great opportunity to see the side live.

Their story

The Spanish Women’s National Team rose from the growth of unofficial clubs in the early 1970s. Players wanted to compete defending their nation’s shield against international competition. However, these efforts were blocked by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

With Spain still under the rule of Francisco Franco, women in sport were frowned upon at the time. An unofficial team formed, but was forbidden from wearing the RFEF crest.

On February 21st, 1971, the team made their debut hosting Portugal at Murcia’s La Condomina. Following an exciting 3-3 draw, the team traveled to Italy for their first fixture abroad. Spain lost to the hosts, 8-1, but their visibility grew. They were even invited to the second official World Cup (Campeonato de Futbol Femenil) in 1971.

However, the RFEF again prohibited them from participating.

RFEF finally allowed women’s football beginning in 1980. The new national team, La Roja, had their first official match on February 5th, 1983 against Portugal. The team grew and evolved on the international stage, gaining ground against traditional European powers.

In 1997 they made it to the semi-finals in the European Championship, losing to Italy 2-1. They did not qualify for another major international tournament until the 2013 European Championships.

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The Quereda era

The 2013 Euros were the start of Spain’s rise in international football. Under manager Ignacio Quereda, the team qualified for the tournament and made it to the knock-out stage. The team advanced on the strength of a group stage win over England and a draw with Russia. La Roja were defeated in the quarter-finals by Norway 3-1.

Spain faced perhaps the best player on the planet, Ada Hegerberg, but also fielded players that would go on to become stars of their own.

This team featured proven star Veronica Boquete, who captained and led the team in scoring. Also on the side were future stars of Europe Jennifer Hermoso, Irene Paredes, and current Balloon d’Or holder Alexia Putellas. Those three are now UEFA Players of the Year at their position, and play for Barcelona.

The current Barcelona squad may very well be one of the best sides to ever take to the pitch.

Quereda’s name is familiar to football fans due to a recent documentary that detailed his dealings with the national team. In it, several players related that they felt undervalued and treated without respect by the former manager. They focused on their game on the pitch during the 2013 Euros, but something had to change.

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The 2015 World Cup in Canada was the trigger for the replacement of Quereda. The players expressed their dissatisfaction with the planning of the World Cup through a statement. They thought they needed a change of coach and argued that it was because they hadn’t achieved the expected results.

Behind the scenes, meanwhile, his treatment of the players had a detrimental affect on their performance as well.

Vilda and the present

Quereda’s replacement came that same year in the person of Jorge Vilda, who arrived at the Spanish National Team after winning the U19 Women’s European Championship with Spain.

He had the intention of bringing new and fresh ideas to the senior team. The first major tournament in this new system was the 2017 European Championship in the Netherlands. The team went 1-2-0 in group play and advanced to the quarter-finals again.

After a scoreless draw through extra time, La Roja bowed out against Austria on penalties.

Will they pass the quarter-final stage of a European Championship this time? We don’t know the answer but we will explain the possibilities they have.

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Defensive line

The Spanish National Team currently plays with a system of three centre-backs covering UEFA Goalkeeper of the Year, Sandra Paños. The defensive line features UEFA Defender of the Year Paredes, accompanied by Mapi León and Andrea Pereira.

Leila Ouahabi starts on the left side, and Ona Batlle on the right. They advance their defensive line to generate superiority in the attack. Paredes is the deepest defender.

Centre line

In the centre of the field, there is a lethal trident formed by Patri Guijarro in the central circle, Putellas on the left side and Aitana Bonmatí on the right.

Guijarro is the link between the defense and the Spanish attack, necessary to avoid counterattacks. Midfielder of the Year Putellas is a threat anywhere on the pitch. Bonmatí is an excellent distributor, and often pushes the Spanish attack.

Attack line

Spain has many options on their attack line and have quality players that can put the ball in the back of the net. UEFA Forward of the Year Hermoso is a great positional player and is deadly in the box. Joining her up front is Amaiur Sarriegi, who plays a similar style to Hermoso.

Sarriegi has blazing speed and can also play on the left wing. Completing the front line is Esther Gonzalez. A perfect No.10, Gonzalez is positional and always looking to finish off a good pass.

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With a strong formation and quality players from front to back, Spain should be considered one of the favorites at the Euros. Playing against Canada, Germany and England in the Arnold Clark Cup will be an excellent test.

A strong result here could be a sign of things to come this summer.

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