The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup begins this week and one of the game’s best players is set to make her return to the international scene. But a question lingers: What kind of impact will she have?
Alexia Putellas will play for Spain after recently coming back for Barcelona following a leg injury that had sidelined the two-time Ballon d’Or Féminin winner for nearly 10 months. The 29-year-old midfielder has only 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 team pulled off a 3-2 comeback victory over Wolfsburg.
Despite Putellas being Spain’s all-time leader with 102 international appearances, Spain coach Jorge Vilda has been unclear on whether she will be a full-time starter or come off the bench in the World Cup. Spain’s first game is Friday against Costa Rica at 3:30 a.m. ET on FS1 and the FOX Sports app.
Given her star power along with her recent return, Putellas looms as one of the biggest X-factors of this tournament, a player who could swing fortunes.
Ahead of her first game, FOX Sports Research broke down her legendary résumé as well as her journey to this moment. Here’s everything you need to know about why Putellas could be so impactful:
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- Putellas is the first player to win the Ballon d’Or Féminin twice since its inception in 2018, winning it in consecutive seasons (2021, 2022).
- Putellas is the first player to win the Best FIFA Women’s Player award twice since its inception in 2016, winning it in consecutive seasons (2021, 2022).
- Putellas is one of three players to win UEFA Women’s Player of the Year twice since its inception in 2013, and one of two to do so in consecutive years (2021, 2022).
- Putellas has played in 52 of Barcelona’s 56 UEFA Women’s Champions League matches all-time to date, according to FIFA; this includes her appearance as a substitute in the title match against Wolfsburg this year.
- Putellas was also named Player of the Tournament in the 2020 SheBelieves Cup when Spain played some of the world’s top teams in Japan, England, and the USWNT.
- Putellas is the first woman to reach 100 international appearances for Spain.
- Putellas has also been named to the UEFA Women’s Champions League Squad of the Season three times (2018-19, 2020-21, 2021-22).
- Putellas’ spent a year in Barcelona’s youth academy at 10 years old but soon moved to Espanyol, where she made her senior team debut at 16 years old in 2010.
- Putellas first made noise as a talent in the 2011-12 campaign for Levante, scoring 15 goals as a 17-year-old.
- The following season (2012-13), she moved to Barcelona and won her first league title while scoring 13 goals in all competitions.
- The success only increased, as she has led Barcelona to six more league titles including four consecutive from 2019-22; in the 2018-19 season, she was Barcelona’s top scorer with 18 goals.
- Putellas’ success has not been held to just La Liga play. She’s led Barcelona to seven Copa del Reina trophies and two Spanish Supercopa titles; in three of those of Copa del Reina finals, she was named Best Player along with being the top goalscorer in two editions of the tournament.
- Her success continued in the UEFA Champions League, winning the trophy two times with Barcelona; in the 2021-22 UEFA Champions League, she was the top goalscorer and named Player of the Tournament.
- Putellas’ 2021 was a year to remember, as she won UEFA Women’s Player of the Year, FIFA Women’s Best Player and the Ballon d’Or Féminin all in one campaign; that same year, she also became the first woman to score a competitive goal at Camp Nou, netting one against her former club Espanyol in a La Liga match.
– FOX Research provided this information.
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