With the ball between the boots, that’s how Spain won the World Cup | Women’s Soccer World Cup 2023

The Spanish team liked and won in New Zealand, first, and in Australia, later, where they were crowned the best soccer team in the world with a recognizable and beautiful game. Talent, touch, possession, control, vertigo and goals. In an evolution that lived its culminating moment in Sydney, where a legendary team rose.


“This team lacked soul,” said Olga Carmona, scorer in both the semifinal and final of the World Cup, punishment for Sweden and woodworm for England, who lost 29 games later —had 25 wins and four draws—, undefeated as they were. since March 2020. “We lacked bite and now the team is round”, added the coach Jorge Vilda, an interventionist during the tournament because he even dared to change the goalkeeper on the run, in the same way that he has highlighted the value and plurality Of his 23 players at the same time he has not married anyone, not even the two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas, with a more reserved role but impeccable camaraderie. Line by line, and with indoor soccer, Spain has been and is the best in the world with its own style, the one that says that the ball is played from behind, that the ball is touched until it finds the crack, that the ball is accelerate in transitions, that the ball is recovered as soon as possible with advanced harassment and, incidentally, that the ball is the best friend of the boots and the players.

Glove relay. Cata Coll was on vacation in Malaga and found out that Vilda had included her in the World Cup shortlist. The call was not expected, nor did he imagine that he would include it in the final call-up -Elene Lete fell-, to the point that he did not even have the regulation gloves (with the new FIFA specifications), which arrived in New Zealand in a hurry .

His role was supposed to be secondary and in the shadow of Misa, who barely made any difference in the first two games against Costa Rica and Zambia because they didn’t reach him, but who squeaked against Japan by conceding four goals. An emotional slab, a reason for Vilda to take a look at the bench and see the always carefree Cata, as solvent in the air as she is delicious with her feet. “I’d like to go to penalties”, “I’m calm because I know I’m good at stopping” or “I’m not going to change my game or stop dribbling” were some of the pearls of the substitute goalkeeper for Barça —behind Sandra Paños — while resolving wrongs against Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden and England.

Coll was the root of the game, the one who discounted a line of pressure with the pass, also the one who quickened the pulse in the stands due to her coldness and the one who brought priceless calm to her teammates. After the final, Misa and Enith Salón —the only one who has not had minutes during the tournament—, made a melee. “Fuck I’m going to celebrate,” she resolved from Sydney with the smile of which she knows she’s a winner.

The beam Walls and long-span lanes. The Spanish defense moves to the beat of the shouts and indications of Irene Paredes, a footballer with stripes, captain without an armband, pure character. She lost her father just before the World Cup and took her son Mateo, barely two years old, to feel as supported as the team feels when she leads the defense.

Paredes, immovable chrome —has played every minute (660), followed by Jenni (647), Ona (613) and Tere (603)—; Next to her have been Ivana, until she was injured and lost her chair after Rocío Gálvez’s failed experiment; when Laia Codina showed that her speed was the ideal complement for a defense that took more risks than any other in the tournament, she was almost 50 meters from the goalkeeper, almost over the midfield.

Fixed the hole, the team was also defined by its sides. Although Ona was untouchable — she can play on the right and on the left, always with the projection of stepping on offense — Vilda chose Oihane, a total limpet, when the dance partner disregarded the defensive phase to launch the counters. That took minutes away from Olga Carmona, a winger converted to a winger, an arrival and punching footballer, lucid like no other when the game demanded it. Her goals in the semifinal and in the final catapult her into eternity, now sure that she was not wrong to keep those worn-out lucky shin guards in which her family, her mother, and surely her father, deceased, will also be there now. hours before the final. She stars in the sky and on the chest.

The ball is red. “Football belongs to the media.” The lapidary phrase belongs to Guardiola; and Vilda, from roots cruyffistas, shares it. The coach understands that the team must knead the ball, take care of it, distribute it and above all have it so that the rival does not hurt you. That is why there has not been a single opponent who disputed the ball with him —the one that was most frequently England, which reached 43% possession to Spain’s 57%—, nor who expressed himself so well with the ball at his feet. Even in the final, he connected 486 passes (81.5% accuracy) to the 362 (72.1%) of the Lionesses. For this to come true, Vilda has found in Tere Abelleira the lever that moves the world, exceptional in the one-touch pass, in oriented controls and in orientation changes, also in defensive duels and even in second plays. . “He deserves a monument; she is the revelation player, ”they say from the coaching staff, happy because they were right to bet on a player who does not have as many minutes in Madrid as Claudia Zornoza, substitute in the World Cup.

A few steps ahead, from inside, the gamers got together, Aitana —chosen the MVP of the World Cup as she was also in the last Champions League with Barça— and Jenni Hermoso, leaders in goals (three) and assists (two). Aitana was expected to be differential because she understands football better than anyone, because she lives and breathes the game – “I don’t want to know anything about the ball for a while”, she admitted after the victory, exhausted -, because she always has the game in her head . Also character, because she can’t stand losing —her anger will remain forever after Japan’s third goal, when she caught the ball while yelling at her teammates— and the left, the arrival from behind, the touch…, everything.

Like Jenni, who missed the last European Championship because she wasn’t physically fit and didn’t want to be, somewhat unmotivated. “She has worked hard, she has learned from the past, she has arrived in great condition and at the age of 33 she has given the best version. I am very happy”, Vilda conceded after the final. And she, despite the fact that she missed two penalties (against Zambia and England), has been the tap dance with the ball, the finesse and the elegance, also the one that in case of playing Alexia acted as a false nine, sometimes a player of the ball and in others, full stop.

With open wings. Tell me which winger you play and I’ll tell you who you are. That could be the definition of Spain in the World Cup, because with the variety of the wing players it has been able to change the games, a range of infinite resources. Mariona, from less to more, played from the outside in, diagonals to help keep the ball or to give the last pass; Athenea put the speed and the bankruptcy at the beginning; Alba Redondo was in charge of the shot and the goal, the arrival at the far post; Eva Navarro, revulsive, always provided impudence and passes, one on one. And Salma Correcaminos Paralluelo destroyed as many hips as rivals, unstoppable in the race, as sensational when she played close to the lime line as she was intelligent when she did it at the attack point in the last two stakes, always hovering around the offside to seek to uncheck of rupture, the definitive race. Also, of course, the goal. Enough to win the award for the best young woman (19 years old) in the World Cup.

Thus, Costa Rica was beaten with their wings wide open and with crosses, Zambia with deep balls to the end line, Switzerland accumulating players inside, the Netherlands with runs behind the rival defense and England with superiorities on the side. A little of everything, a lot of everything. And as a resource at the point of attack, in the event that Jenni played false nine, Esther acted, who fought with her shadow, who fixed the central defenders and above all stretched the field so that the interiors could find meters and spaces between the lines , work that sometimes does not shine, but that was essential to explain that Spain does everything to have the ball between its boots.

And with that and a lot of football, with a backbone that grew bigger as the games went by, Spain was crowned in the World Cup and reached eternity.

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