Alexia Putellas scored the winning goal in the 21st minute for Spain as they beat Canada in the Arnold Clark Cup. The result seeing Spain go top of the table only to be overtaken by England, who beat Germany 3-1 in the evening game. Here are Rosie Cowell’s five big talking points from the game.
1 – Alexia Putellas was the star of the game earning herself the Arnold Clark Player of the Match with an excellent performance. The Ballon D’Or winner scored the first and only goal of the afternoon in the 21st minute, striking the ball into the bottom-right corner to the elation of those on the bench. The Barcelona captain also hit the bar to almost put Spain two in front and deserved all plaudits.
2 – The Spanish side are all physically slight and agile which benefits them in attack as they can weave and outwit the defence as shown today as Putellas ran in between the Canadian defence before her shot was blocked. However, there is a possibility that they could be beaten on the counter-attack and bullied by a stronger, more physical side. Could this be seen in the European Championship this summer?
3 – The rise of Spain in women’s football can be attributed to the rise of Barcelona. Ten Spanish internationals play club football for the Catalan giants. Jennifer Hermoso captained ‘La Roja’ against Canada and is the top scorer for both her national team and for Barcelona. She has scored 43 goals in 90 caps for Spain and finished second in the Ballon D’Or rankings to her Barcelona teammate Putellas, who has the most caps for her country with 96. Having a side full of Champions League winners undoubtedly is a great asset for the Spanish.
4 – Canada has the expertise of Beverly Priestman as a coach, which strengthens their side. Priestman was the assistant coach under Phil Neville, the predecessor to Sarina Wiegman. She guided Canada to Olympic glory, winning gold in Tokyo to become the Champions and bringing success to the nation. The Canadians rallied together in the second half and had some tight opportunities but were unable to prevail. Had they succeeded, they would have automatically won this tournament but now it is an open battle between Spain and England for the trophy.
5 – Notably, the crowd sizes at the Arnold Clark fixtures have been low with England games having the highest attendances. This is understandable as the hosts have had evening games on weekdays and an afternoon game on a Sunday, which allows more fans to buy tickets and attend after work or when they are not working however Spain, Canada and Germany have played earlier in the day which is less convenient. Regardless, this could still be a concern for the European Championship fixtures this summer as the highest attendance for a non-England game was 249 at the Riverside Stadium for Germany versus Spain. It is hoped that crowd sizes will increase in the summer.