Spain and the United States Women's National Team will meet for the first time in their history on Tuesday afternoon when they kick off in Alicante, Spain. The USWNT are coming off a 3-1 defeat at the hands of France while Spain got a credible 1-1 draw against Belgium over the weekend.
Both teams will be looking to test themselves against each other as they prepare for the upcoming 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup.
Paños and Paredes will be expected to keep the US attack quiet
Despite not having many big names compared to those in the USWNT roster, Spain has some incredibly talented players at its disposal. Most of the USWNT strengths lie in attack and this is where Sandra Paños and Irene Paredes will be expected to showcase their talent. Paños, who is the starting goalkeeper for FC Barcelona, has shown over the course of the last few seasons that she should be in the conversation for the best goalkeeper in the women's game right now while Paredes, who plies her trade for Paris Saint-Germain, has been a stalwart for both club and counter in the center of defense. Both players will be looking to keep their defense as organized and as tightly compacted as possible to prevent the US attacking players from breaking through and will also be used as a spring board for Spain's attack when they have the ball.
Further forward, Spain have the likes of Alexia Putellas who can create something out of nothing and the Barcelona player has been instrumental in both Barcelona and Spain's rise over the last few years. She will be expected to target what could be a weakened backline for the USWNT and exploit any gaps there to the best of her ability. Head coach Jorge Vilda has done well with his squad and if he can get a win against the US tomorrow, that will be a great stepping stone for Spain as they look towards the World Cup.
The USWNT midfield needs to rediscover its form
Against France, the US struggled to create many opportunities and the likes of Alex Morgan and Christen Press were kept quiet for most of the match. A large part of that was due to how ineffective the USWNT midfield was against France. With Julie Ertz out injured at the time, Lindsey Horan, Crystal Dunn and Morgan Brian failed to provide the impetus for their strikers to thrive off of and defensively, were unable to help out their backline. Spain may not be as technically or tactically gifted as France but they have the players that could punish those issues if they pop up again on Tuesday.
Head coach Jill Ellis will be hoping to have Casey Short, Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath available again which would aid the USWNT creatively and defensively. The three, along with Ertz, were ruled out against France due to injury and their absences were felt. If Ellis can call upon any of those three in tomorrow's match, the chances of the USWNT getting a win will increase significantly.
The USWNT will face off against Spain on January 22, 2019 at the Estadio José Rico Perez in Alicante, Spain. Kick off is scheduled for 2:30PM EST and will be televised on ESPN 2 and UDN.