Spain in the round of 16 of the World Cup: the forbidden border of the women’s team | Women’s Soccer World Cup 2023

Jorge Vilda and Montse Tomé, his assistant, chat during a training session for the national team.
Jorge Vilda and Montse Tomé, his assistant, chat during a training session for the national team.RITCHIE B. TONGO (EFE)

After an indigestible defeat like the one against Japan (0-4), Spain faces an invigorating challenge never surpassed, since up to now it has capitulated all the qualifiers it has played in a major tournament. Five rounds of KO -four in Eurocups and one in a World Cup- and five fainting. The border crossing in the round of 16 is Switzerland, which is presumed to play with a low block in the image and likeness of the Japanese. This is the grayish story that aims to change Vilda’s selection.

Eurocopa 1997. Semifinals against Italy (1-2). Although FIFA entrusted its members with the creation and sponsorship of women’s football in 1971, in Spain it was not made official until 1983. Times of amateurism and anonymity that Ignacio Quereda tried to correct from the bench, finally able the team to eliminate England in a playoff to reach Euro 1997, where only eight teams participated.

The coach concentrated the soccer players in the CAR of Sant Cugat for a month, a Spartan preseason of three daily training sessions and a zillion games against youth male teams. “They called me crazy, but our options were to be physically fit,” explained Quereda, who installed the team in Karlstad (Sweden) to draw with France, lose against Sweden and beat Russia. Enough to reach the semifinals, to face an Italy that scored two goals before the intermission, a result made up by Mari Ángeles Parejo, the only Spanish scorer of the event with three goals. The prize, 25,000 pesetas (about 150 euros) and a quick return trip home – third and fourth place were not disputed – because they had to return to work.

Euro 2013. Quarterfinals against Norway (1-3). Although inexperienced in big tournaments, Spain was gaining color and shape on the international scene, supported by Vero Boquete, already with incipient Jenni Hermoso and Alexia Putellas. In the group stage, played in Sweden, the team beat England, fell to France and drew with Russia to reach the quarterfinals. So, Boquete wrote a message on the physio’s door that he extracted from the book The little Prince: “Dream big if we want to be big.” Motto they adopted to face Norway, already world and Olympic champion, ultimately victorious.

Euro 2017. Quarterfinals against Austria (0-0). Spain arrived at the tournament in the Netherlands with the aspiration of defining itself as a power, since in the qualifying phase it played eight stakes and won in all of them, 39 goals for and two against. Some figures that reaffirmed the Algarve Cup, the first laurel of the selection, already coached by Vilda. under the motto Play, Fight and Win —again in force—, La Roja broke Portugal, broke against England and also against Scotland, which was left out of the tournament for Spanish relief due to the difference in goals. Bad feelings that corroborated against Austria, a team without many arguments, was the final slap because they celebrated the victory in the penalty shootout.

World Cup 2019. Round of 16 against the United States (1-2). Professionalized women’s soccer, FIFA installed VAR, they went from three to 18 sponsors and reached 1,000 million viewers. Spain, although they sealed an immaculate qualifying round with eight career wins (25 goals for and one against), arrived with a low profile, having never won a World Cup. Which was not long in coming, victory over South Africa. They then lost to Germany and drew with China, again making the cut on goals. He faced the round of 16 against the United States with the slogan dare to shine and she almost succeeds, denatured at last by a universal version of Rapinoe.

Euro 2022. Round of 16 against England (1-2). New pristine qualifying phase and verve for a team led by Alexia (winner of the Ballon d’Or) shielded by a large group of Barça players who at that time had a Champions League. But Alexia was injured before the tournament began and the group suffered as the days went by, dissatisfied with the lack of professionalism of the federation compared to other teams. 15 footballers said enough, although the vast majority asked to return for this World Cup, an open door for a Vilda who wanted to have the best. Before that, in England, Spain crushed Finland, writhed against Germany and regenerated with a goal on the buzzer against Denmark to step into the round of 16 against the hosts, ultimately champions and only winner of the duel against La Roja through a extension.

Now, against Switzerland, Spain has the revalidation, the challenge of overcoming the forbidden border.

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