Spanish women’s football

The growing force in Spanish women’s football

Spanish women’s football is in the ascendancy right now.

Barcelona won the Women’s Champions League for a second time when they completed a remarkable comeback to beat Wolfsburg 3-2 in the 2023 final at Philips Stadion in Eindhoven.

The comeback from 2-0 down at half-time was inspired. And with women’s football growing in Spain, could Barcelona’s second title in three years be a sign that Spain is set to dominate the women’s game in the coming years?

Spain are in the running to win the 2023 FIFA World Cup

As things stand, there is a split in Spanish football, and the Barcelona players won’t represent Spain at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Despite this, Spain are still one of the favourites with the bookmakers. In the latest Women’s World Cup 2023 odds, the USA lead the way at 11/4, with England second at 10/3, and Spain third at 6/1. That puts Spain ahead of Germany, which is a good sign. For anyone looking to place football bets on the tournament, they are second favourites at 1/3 to reach the quarter-finals so the bookmakers think they have an easy route through the first few stages,

As can often be the case in Spanish football, the split is mainly centred around Barcelona and Real Madrid. Many of the Barcelona women have refused to play for, and have denounced the current set-up of, the national team. And for whatever reason, and there are various rumours, none of the Real Madrid players have supported them.

But the fact that the Spanish can still put out such a strong team, and still be regarded as having a chance of winning the 2023 World Cup, is a testament to how strong the women’s game currently is in Spain.

An ever-improving record

To date, Spain’s women have never won a FIFA World Cup, or UEFA Women’s Championship. The women’s World Cup only started in 1991, and it took Spain until 2015 to qualify. That year they finished 20th, going out in the group stage. In 2019, they lost in the Round of 16, receiving a finishing position of 12th.

However, in recent years, the performances have improved. In 2017 and 2018, the Spanish won the Algarve Cup and Cyprus Cup, respectively. And then in the 2020 SheBelieves Cup, they finished 2nd, which was the same position they finished in the 2022 Arnold Clark Cup, and the 2022 Cup of Nations.

On a negative note, the team went out of the 2022 UEFA Women’s Championship to England in the quarter-final stage. This was a disappointing end, although the Spanish did look like one of the better sides throughout the competition. But that was before the split.

How will this play out?

Whatever the outcome of the players’ dispute, it’s hard to see a way back for the players who refused to represent their nation before the 2023 World Cup. Such a move at this late stage may prove to be a risk too far for head coach Jorge Vilda.

The chances are, whilst Vilda remains in charge, the situation won’t resolve. And even if a deal is brokered, it’s hard to see the current generation of players gelling together again.

Whatever the outcome of the 2023 World Cup for Spain, it feels like a lost opportunity. Unless that is, they can pull off a remarkable win. But once all this is resolved, in the medium to longer term, the future looks bright for women’s football in Spain.

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