As it rang out at Brighton Stadium Sweet Caroline and the England players enjoyed singing with their fans Good times never seemed so good (good times have never been so good) Spain coach Jorge Vilda gathered his players in midfield. The coaching staff and the squad gathered in a circle and the La Roja coach began his speech. “I told them that we are all proud of what they left on the field that you must go with your head held high. We’ll analyze it later, but we’ve been a team for a while. There is a lot of future in this team,” said the coach. “It was difficult to talk when you lose like that, but Jorge has great faith in this team and so do we,” confirmed Spain captain Irene Paredes.
Mary Earps, Rachel Daly, Lucy Bronze, Millie Bright, Leah Williamson, Fran Kirby, Georgia Stanway, Lauren Hemp, Beth Mead, Keira Walsh, and Ellen White
Sandra Paños, Mapi León, Ona Batlle, Irene Paredes, Olga Carmona, Mariona Caldentey, Patri Guijarro, Aitana Bonmatí, Marta Cardona, Teresa Abelleira and Esther González
Gates 0-1 min 53: Esther Gonzalez. 1-1 min. 83: You Toone. 2-1 min. 95: Georgia Stanway.
yellow cards Mapi León (min. 44), Misa Rodríguez (min. 87) and Alex Greenwood (min. 118)
“I hope that I don’t have such a headwind on the next occasions,” emphasized the coach. The figure of Alexia Putellas, last Ballon d’Or, out of the Euro after tearing a cruciate ligament in the previous one, fluttered in Brighton. She did it in the city streets, on the banks of the English Channel – the posters announcing the euro had the image of the Barcelona player –; naturally also in the concentration of the Spanish team. Vilda couldn’t find a way to forget (or forget for her players) the second captain. Until the decisive duel against the hostess.
“I already know the eleven that will play against England,” announced the coach in the predecessor. With Olga Carmona on the side and Marta Cardona on the wing, that was not surprising, even with Esther as a beacon in attack. Instead, he did as he placed Teresa Abelleira as inside left, who had played just 15 minutes of the 900 that Spain played in 2022. Together with Guijarro and Bonmatí he took over the midfield.
“The approach went well, we were superior in many phases,” analyzed Vilda. “We played a good game. They have good players that we minimized,” explained Mariona. “Everyone thought we would lose by five or six goals. I’m angry because we were better and left the European Championship. We could have made history and played in the semifinals. We made a great game, we attacked well, we had chances, but in the end we don’t miss the little details that don’t depend on us,” added Aitana Bonmatí.
In the morning relax in Spain – the Employee and the players hopped down Kings Road for a 20-minute walk— the Real Madrid midfielder seemed calm; also Mapi León, who didn’t even know that she was the only Spaniard to have been selected in the ideal team for the group stage. “I’m not looking at anything. I’m just thinking about tonight’s game,” said the defense. And against England he showed his best version. The centre-back mixed perfectly with Irene Paredes to dry out England’s powerful striker.
It was Paredes who was the protagonist of the locals’ equaliser. The Reds complained about a shot by Russo against the Barcelona centre-back. “It’s a clear foul, I can’t jump because he elbows me in the neck,” said Paredes. “If I say what I think, they still punish me. They show us the replay of the target on the screen. Irene gets an elbow in the face and the game ends in a goal. They whistle the end of the game in a corner. It drives you crazy because you put everything in, you try and you can’t do anything about it. We could have done things better, certainly yes, but you stay with a fool’s face,” Mariona said. And Aitana added: “From my point of view, the equalizer is a foul, but now I will not change the result.”
In any case, the interior of Barcelona prefers to look ahead: “There is a future. We played a great game.” Paredes agreed: “It’s very difficult to lose when you can go further. But you have to go through the duel, with time it will pass. There are many talents. We want to do things well.” And Vilda agreed with her players: “There are young footballers who have made their debut and that’s encouraging. Projection can be important.”