VAVEL UK's top 100 female footballers of 2018: 80-61
Credit: VAVEL UK

VAVEL UK's top 100 female footballers of 2018: 80-61

Counting down from 80 to 61

Sophie Lawson

Following on from the first part yesterday, we resume our countdown in Paris.

80. Ashley Lawrence – Paris Saint-Germain/Canada

Defender, midfielder, Ashley Lawrence has been known to mix it up on the pitch for both PSG and Canada depending on what her manager asks of her. Easily adaptable between the roles along the backline and those in midfield, the 23-year-old consistently plays with a maturity that belies her years. The Canadian has remained consistent since her move to the French capital, rarely missing a match.

79. Ajara Nchout – IL Sandviken/Cameroon

Having enjoyed the most profitable season of her career at Sandviken this year, Nchout struck up a resilient strike-partnership with Kennya Cordner to fire the Bergen team up the table to a fourth-place finish. With an ease in attack, the Cameroonian drove her club form into her international work when she turned out for the Indomitable Lionesses at the AWCON, firing in two group stage goals at the team qualified for their second World Cup.

78. Almuth Schult – VfL Wolfsburg/Germany 

Germany and Wolfsburg’s number one, Almuth Schult is the new goalkeeper on our list, the 27-year-old having claimed another strong season in the Frauen-Bundesliga in 2017-18. Many with remember her goalkeeping heroics at the Champions League final in Kyiv before Lyon found a devastating breakthrough. Not a particularly eye-catching shot-stopper, Schult is well versed in the subtleties of her role, taking the half steps and assessing the danger to make sure she is well-placed when called upon.

77. Mana Iwabuchi – INAC Kobe Leonessa/Japan

Having rather dropped off of the radar of those in the west after her return to Japanese L. (or Nadeshiko) League last year. Still as explosive as ever on the pitch, the 25-year-old showed she’s lost little in the way of sparkle at the Asian Cup in April as Japan claimed their second title with Iwabuchi shining for her nation, scooping the MVP award in the process.

76. Sam Mewis – North Carolina Courage/USA

Sam Mewis makes our list every year and every year, she gets that little bit better, growing into more of a complete footballer. Flourishing under the tutelage of Paul Riley, the rangy midfielder has a keen reading for the game and has a vital home in the heart of the Courage team, tying things together in the middle of the park and helping the team tick over.  

75. Aoife Mannion – Birmingham City

The disappointment felt by Birmingham fans when they skim through the latest England squad and don’t see Mannion’s name listed is something quite a few fans in the country are well used to by now. A measure of consistency, the young centre back has been a key component of the City team since she was in her teens, her performances marking her out as one of the best defenders in the WSL. Whilst her senior debut is still awaits, there’s no better time for us to tip our hat to the 23-year-old.

74. Beatriz “Bia” Zaneratto João – Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels/Brazil

Although having missed the latter part of the year after breaking her collarbone, Bia continues to excel in the WK League. Never far from the goals, the 24-year-old remains a point of inspiration for the Red Angels, adding that certain je ne sais pas for the South Korean champions, the wily attacker sure to impress at next year’s World Cup.

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73. Ingrid Moe Wold – LSK/Norway

There are few players that embody the one-club spirit quite like Ingrid Moe Wold, the Norwegian full-back the definition of an ever-present for the Toppserien champions, her break taking run of 195 straight league matches coming to an end in October. Not just always there but always there at a high level, the 28-year-old exemplifies modern full-back play, running the channels, helping and sparking attacks before pelting back to cover in defence.

72. Ludmila da Silva – Atlético Madrid/Brazil

Claiming their second successive Liga Iberdrola title, Atleti had a certain way about them, though not as stylish as Barcelona, Las Colchoneras were relentless in their attacks. Whilst Soni claimed the plaudits for her exceptional goalscoring records, it was Ludmila who dazzled on the ball. The young Brazilian not quite the finished product, but one of the stars who has lit up the league since her move from São José.

71. Millie Bright – Chelsea/England

With Emma Hayes philosophy very much one that builds from the back, with a team drilled to keep clean sheets before anything else, Millie Bright as made herself invaluable to the WSL winning manager. Developed from a midfielder to a modern centre-back, Bright has gelled with the role to look every bit a classic English no-nonsense defender, firm in her challenges and absolute dynamite in the air.

70. Svenja Huth – Turbine Potsdam/Germany

With an up and down few seasons, the new-look Turbines have found an irresistible style under Matthias Rudolph, the attacking intent routinely feeding Huth. No longer working in tandem with Tabea Kemme, the German attacker has rarely taken her foot of the gas, forging new partnerships on the pitch to insure Potsdam have a clear route to goal. Her club form spilling over on the international stage as she’s started to find the net with more regularity for Germany.

69. Denise O’Sullivan – North Carolina Courage/Canberra United/Ireland

Often described as doing the “ugly” work on the pitch, there is little about Denise O’Sullivan that screams flashy during a match but that might just be the key to her success. A player not fussed to do the gritty work, she’s a valuable part of the Courage machinery, battling hard in the middle of the park, fighting for every ball and providing ample cover for the defence. Voted as the Courage MVP by her teammates in a season when the NWSL champions never looked like stopping, there is no question that O’Sullivan is an integral part of their success.

68. Ji So-yun – Chelsea/South Korea

Having earned the moniker, “the Korean Messi” sometime ago, Ji remains true to form, a slight attack-minded midfielder who cuts in and out of defence with ease, slaloming through to tee up her teammates. With quick feet and a deft touch, the 27-year-old consistently leads the way with chances created in WSL, a selfless worker who strives to push the Blues on.

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67. Ingrid Syrstad Engen – LSK/Norway

In what has been a breakthrough year for the 20-year-old, Engen not only took the step up from Ørn when she moved to LSK, becoming a key part of the midfield of the title-winning team, going on to be named NISO young player of the year as well as making the Toppserien team of the year. But also, on the international stage when she made her senior debut in March, the midfielder notably scoring the first goal in the 2-1 win over the Netherlands in Oslo that saw Norway book their spot at the World Cup.

66. Toni Duggan – Barcelona/England

Turning heads when she made the move from safety of WSL with Manchester City to the relative unknown of the Spanish league for Barcelona, Duggan has adapted to her new surroundings superbly. Striking up an instant partnership with Alexia Putellas, the attacker bedded herself into the team, riffing off of the likes of Lieke Martens and Andressa Alves. Working herself in Fran Sánchez’s starting XI, the Liverpudlian has flourished playing centrally in the attacking team.

65. Adrianna “AD” Franch – Portland Thorns

It doesn’t take long, when watching a Thorns game, to understand by USWNT fans are still scratching their heads as to why AD Franch isn’t called into Jill Ellis' squads. The nibble goalkeeper one of the best with her hands in the NWSL, the experienced goalkeeper conceding just 18 goals in 16 appearances this year. The 28-year-old standing out as one of the best in a league notorious for producing good goalkeepers.

64. Barbara Bonansea – Juventus/Italy

The jewel in Juventus’s crown, the 27-year-old remains one of the most eye-catching attackers in Serie A. Able to create something out of nothing, weaving her way around defences, Bonansea’s Achilles heel remains her inconsistency, a wizard some days and a kid’s party magician others. At her best, the Italian is unbeatable, a star for both the Bianconere and the Italian national team.

63. Rebecka Blomqvist – Kopparbergs/Göteborg

After a couple of consistent if not awe-inspiring seasons for KG, Blomqvist found her mojo this year, settling into the season like a comfy chair. Going on to score 14 goals for the season, the 21-year-old fully came into her own this year, lighting up the pitch for Göteborg as they claimed a European berth for next year.

62. Marta Torrejón – Barcelona/Spain

Consistent for the Catalans since her move in 2013, Torrejón is a keen attack-minded defender, happy to float down the wing and help build-up attacks. Her full-back play more of a recent addition to her game, the Spanish captain still happy to anchor herself at centre-back depending on the needs of both Barcelona and Spain.

61. Kristine Minde – VfL Wolfsburg/Norway

2018 is almost over and Kristine Minde still hasn’t played in goal, it might never happen at this point but having played almost every outfield position, it seems high time. Making the move from Linköping to Wolfsburg at the end of the 2017 Damallsvenskan season, the Norwegian has unsurprisingly continued her trend of playing all across the pitch for her new team, comfortable in each third of the pitch, she’s fast racking up the goals for the free-scoring German champions.