Five Things to Know About: SpainPresented By Thorne
After not playing Spain in the entire history of the U.S. Women’s National Team program from the inception of the program in 1985 until January of 2019, the USA will face Spain for the third time in 15 months when the teams clash on the second match day of fifth annual SheBelieves Cup on March 5 at Red Bull Arena. This will be the first meeting between the teams since the Round of 16 match at last summer’s Women’s World Cup, a 2-1 victory that featured two penalty kicks from Megan Rapinoe.
Here are Five Things to Know about the USA’s second opponent in this elite four-team competition:
SPAIN ROLLING TO EUROS
Spain is currently atop its qualifying group for the 2021 UEFA Women’s Euro, having defeated Azerbaijan, 4-1, and the Czech Republic, 5-1, while tying Poland 0-0 in Group D so far. Spain returns to qualifying action on April 8 in Madrid against Moldova and will also play at home against Czech Republic on April 12.
Spain is producing some fantastic young players and won the 2018 U-17 Women’s World Cup which was held in Uruguay under Antonia Is. Spain also finished second to Japan at the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in France. At the SBC, Spain has a young yet experienced roster that is full of skillful and savvy players. The oldest player on the team is 29 and the youngest is 20. Six players on the 23-player roster have passed the 50-cap milestone, giving them significant experience in international play, but 14 have 30 caps or less. Spain’s roster averages 25.2 years of age. Spain has four players on this roster from the 2018 U-20 Women’s World Cup. Midfielder Patricia Guijarro and forward Lucía García were two of the top players in that tournament.
Spain’s coach, Jorge Vilda, was appointed after the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and has led a renewal for women’s soccer in the country, bringing in new players and new tactics. In 2017, Spain won the Algarve Cup and reached the last eight of the UEFA Women’s Euro while in 2018, Spain won the Cyprus Cup and qualified for its second Women’s World Cup, eventually falling to the USA in the Round of 16. Vilda came from the youth ranks, coaching highly successful teams at the U-17 and U-19 levels for Spain before taking over the senior side.
JENNI FROM THE BLOCK
Spain’s star is forward Jenni Hermoso who is back with Barcelona, for whom she played from 2013-2017, after stints with Paris Saint-Germain and Atletico Madrid. She is far and away Spain’s leading scorer on the roster with 32 goals in 76 caps. Hermoso is known for her ability to be dangerous in the final third as a forward or when she comes out of the midfield and is one of the most experienced players on Spain’s roster. U.S. forward Christen Press played with Hermoso (and roomed with her as well) in Sweden with Tyreso, which was coached by former U.S. assistant coach Tony Gustavsson.
WORLD CUP STARS ON DISPLAY
Spain has 18 players from its World Cup Team on its SBC roster, second-most of all the teams behind the USA. Ten of the 11 players who started against the USA at the World Cup are on this roster, which is the same number of U.S. players who started against Spain (minus only Alex Morgan). That Round of 16 match at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup was a 2-1 U.S. win that saw the USA concede its first goal of the tournament in a match that was tied until the 76th minute when Rose Lavelle was clipped in the penalty area and Megan Rapinoe converted the game-winning penalty kick.