23rd July 2024
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Alexia Putellas is back for the Women’s World Cup as Spain seeks glory

Alexia Putellas has been included in Spain’s squad for the FIFA Women’s World Cup that kicks off on 20 July until 20 August in Australia and New Zealand.

After winning back-to-back Ballon d’Or awards and helping Barcelona win two of the last three Champions League titles, however, her role on Spain’s national team is still in doubt. The 29-year-old midfielder with a knack for scoring has barely played for her club since recently returning from a leg injury that sidelined her for nearly 10 months.

Putellas was set to take the 2022 European Championship by storm, only for the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee to rupture days before the tournament. She played her first game since that injury in late April when Barcelona clinched the Spanish league title.

In total, she has made six appearances since her injury, all as a substitute, including in the Champions League final. She lifted the trophy as Barcelona’s captain after her teammates pulled off a 3-2 comeback victory over Wolfsburg.

Spain coach Jorge Vilda praised Putellas when he announced his preliminary squad, although she will also be returning to a team that has undergone an unwanted overhaul.

Relations deteriorated between several players and Vilda after Spain exited last year’s European Championship in the quarter-finals. 15 players, including several Barcelona teammates of Putellas, said they would not continue to play for Vilda unless he improved his coaching methodology.

The federation interpreted the players’ decision as an attempt to force the ousting of Vilda. The federation backed the coach firmly and left the rebels off the team.

Now, three of the 15, including Barcelona playmaker Aitana Bonmatí, have been included after a behind-the-scenes reconciliation with Vilda.

More than half of the players of the women’s team did not applaud Vilda when he took to the stage at the recent announcement ceremony of the squad.

Spain opens the World Cup against Costa Rica in Wellington on 21 July. Japan and Zambia are also in Group C.

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