Spain celebrates their win against England in the World Cup Final.
On July 20, the inaugural game of the Women’s World Cup kicked off in Auckland, New Zealand. Following one month of games across New Zealand and Australia, Spain was crowned champion of the Women’s World Cup for the first ever time on August 20. A 29th-minute goal from left-back Olga Carmona fired Spain into an early lead. Spain then missed a penalty in the second half, but it was not enough to change the outcome of the game, and Spain went on to close the game out to win 1-0.
However, Spain’s road to glory started almost a month earlier against Costa Rica. Spain started their campaign sharp, scoring three goals in the first 27 minutes, including a goal from Aitana Bonmatí, who was later recognized as Player of the Tournament. They continued their good form into their second game, thrashing Zambia 5-0. Despite this, their winning start ended abruptly due to an impressive performance from Japan in their final group stage game. Japan’s high-energy pressing style was too much for Spain to handle, and Spain would ultimately lose 4-0. Despite not ending the group stage well, Spain still secured a spot in the knockout round, facing Switzerland in the round of 16.
Spain didn’t let their setback against Japan affect the course of the tournament or damage their mentality. They went into the tournament ranked 6th in FIFA’s world rankings, so despite not being favorites, they were still predicted to do well. Spain manager Jorge Vilda made several adjustments to his team going into the game against Switzerland, which proved to work out as Spain won 5-1 convincingly. Bonmatí registered two goals in the match and was awarded the Player of the Match. Following their victory over Switzerland, Spain drew the Netherlands for their semi-final matchup. The Dutch would prove to be a real test for Spain, with many viewing them as one of the favorites to win the entire tournament. They did not let this change their possession-based play style though, scoring first through a penalty. The Dutch soon equalized, sending the game into extra time. With only nine minutes remaining, Salma Paralluelo beat several defenders before curling a shot towards the far post, flying past the goalkeeper. This frantic ending sent Spain into the final for the first time in the country’s history, where they would go on to win the tournament. Spain’s win was followed with a celebration by the team and the country as a whole. Spain’s top goal scorer, Jennifer Hermoso, called the moment “the best feeling of [her] life,” recognizing the difficulty of their achievement.
This victory was historic for Spain and the sport in many ways. Spain joined Germany as the only country to win both the men’s and women’s World Cup, demonstrating the country’s deep connection to the game. Spain is also currently the U17 and U20 World Cup champions, meaning that Spain is obviously doing something right. Their future remains bright, with rising stars such as Paralluelo and young talents like Bonmatí ensuring that Spain will continue to find success in later tournaments.