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Women's World Cup: Spain Women's Team Profile

One of the powerhouses of women's football in Europe, Spain rank amongst the favourites to win a first World Cup this summer, despite a build-up dogged by controversy.

Rather than being able to select a squad stacked full of Champions League winners from Barcelona, a protest staged by 15 players against head coach Jorge Vilda seven months ago has caused a selection headache. 

Ballon d'Or winner Alexia Putellas' recent return to action following a serious knee injury also only deepens the concerns surrounding 13/2 shots Spain as they get set to head to Australia and New Zealand with plenty to prove. 

Spain's World Cup record:

The 2023 Women's World Cup will be just the third global tournament Spain have participated in having failed to qualify for a World Cup before 2015. 

They made an early exit on their debut in Canada, bowing out at the group stage after taking just a point from their three games, finishing bottom of a section featuring Costa Rica, Brazil and South Korea.

They got one step further in 2019 when finishing second in a group containing China, Germany and South Africa. In the last 16, they came up against champions-elect USA and put in a spirited effort in a 2-1 defeat, a pair of Meghan Rapinoe penalties ending La Roja's stay in France.

How Spain qualified:

Spain didn't put a foot wrong in qualifying, finishing with a 100 per cent record after eight games as they topped a group featuring Scotland, Hungary, Ukraine and Faroe Islands. 

Vilda's side hardly broke sweat in punching their ticket to Australia and New Zealand, winning all eight games, scoring 53 goals and conceding none. 

The highlight of qualifying was two double-digit wins against the Faroes, with Real Sociedad's Amaiur Sarriegi finishing as topscorer with 11 goals. 

However, Sarriegi won't be going to the World Cup, having been one of the players to complain about Vilda.

The Manager - Jorge Vilda:

Vilda is preparing for his second World Cup in charge of Spain having worked his way through the coaching ranks at youth level. 

Previously in charge of the Under-17 and Under-19 teams, he enjoyed plenty of success at with those age groups. The 41-year-old took the Under-17s to the finals of the World Cup and European Championships, while the Under-19s were twice European Championship runners-up.

Vilda was appointed coach of the senior women's team in 2015 and has helped to bring through the young generation with whom he had so much success previously. 

Spain are now regarded as one of Europe's top sides and although they are yet to get past the quarter-finals of a major tournament, the future looks promising. 

However, a rift between Vilda and a large portion of the squad, which became public knowledge last September, has cast a shadow over his tenure. 

A group of 15 players contacted Spain's governing body to complain about training methods, inadequate game preparation and coaching decisions, calling on the boss to stand down. 

So far, the Spanish Football Federation have stood by Vilda during what they call a 'mutiny' but the rift it has caused could have major ramifications for a talented squad expected to go far at the World Cup.

Confirmed Spain Squad:

Preliminary squad of 30. Final 23 set to be confirmed at the end of June.

Goalkeepers: Cata Coll (Barcelona), Elene Lete (Real Sociedad), Misa Rodriguez (Real Madrid), Enith Salon (Valencia).

Defenders: Ivana Andres (Real Madrid), Ona Batlle (Manchester United), Olga Carmona (Real Madrid), Laia Codina (Barcelona), Jana Fernandez (Barcelona), Rocio Galvez (Real Madrid), Sheila Garcia (Atletico Madrid), Oihane Hernandez (Athletic Club), Irene Paredes (Barcelona).

Midfielders: Teresa Abelleira (Real Madrid), Fiamma Benitez (Valencia), Aitana Bonmati (Barceona), Irene Guerrero (Levante), Jennifer Hermoso (Pachuca), Maite Oroz (Real Madrid), Maraa Perez (Barcelona), Alexia Putellas (Barcelona), Claudia Zornoza (Real Madrid).

Forwards: Mariona Caldentey (Barcelona), Marta Cardona (Atletico Madrid), Athenea del Castillo (Real Madrid), Inma Gabarro (Sevilla), Esther Gonzalez (Real Madrid), Eva Navarro (Atletico Madrid), Salma Paralluelo (Barcelona), Alba Redondo (Levante).

Spain's Key Players:

The ongoing dispute between the players and coach has led to some notable absentees from the squad, including Champions League winners Patri Guijarro, Mapi Leon and Sandra Panos. 

Three of the 15 rebels have been selected, though, with Aitana Bonmati, Mariona Caldentey and Ona Batlle getting the call.

And Spain are still taking plenty of big names to the World Cup. Chief amongst them is Putellas, who suffered a serious knee injury on the eve of last summer's European Championships. 

After 10 months out, Putellas has played only seven games for Barcelona this season and it remains to be seen whether Spain's 100-cap heroine has had enough game time to get back to her best.

Putellas is not alone in returning to the national side after a lengthy absence, with skipper Irene Paredes recalled for the first time in seven months. She has enjoyed an excellent season with Barcelona and will be tasked with marshalling Spain's defence.

Up top, Jennifer Hermoso will be looking to add her record tally of 48 goals at her third World Cup and will again be a handful for opposing defences. 

Spain are blessed with some exciting attacking options and the next off the production line is Salma Paralluelo, who enjoyed plenty of success at youth level under Vilda. 

The Barcelona speedster, who had been splitting her time between football and athletics until last year, has the potential to get fans off their seats with her electric pace and is a contender to be young player of the tournament if given a run in the team.

Spain's Group Fixtures:

Group C

Spain v Costa Rica, Wellington, 21st July 2023

Spain v Zambia, Auckland, 26th July 2023

Japan v Spain, Wellington, 31st July 2023

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