Friday, September 29, 2023

‘Spain’s Lionel Messi’ Alexia Putellas who plays like Andres Iniesta is out to spoil England’s World Cup party

England are just one win from being crowned world champions, but they have the mammoth task of getting past Spain and their superstar midfielder.

Two-time Ballon d’Or Feminin winner time Alexia Putellas is not to be underestimated and will be out to spoil England’s party in the World Cup final this Sunday, live on talkSPORT.

Putellas has represented Spain’s first team 11 years but is yet to win the World CupGetty

The Barcelona midfielder stood alongside one her role models Lionel Messi at the 2021 Ballon d’Or ceremony, as Barca fans looked in awe as two of their legends snapped up the award.

But whilst Messi missed out on a consecutive Ballon d’Or to Karim Benzema and an eighth win of the award in total last year, Putellas was making history.

Her win made her the first women’s player to win the award twice, with Norway star Ada Hegerberg and United States veteran Megan Rapinoe winning the Ballon d’Or Feminin on one win each.

When Messi left Barca in 2020, Putellas put up an emotional farewell message on her Instagram to the Argentine.

Writing in Spanish, the Barcelona-born star wrote: “Thank you for making me enjoy. Thank you for your football. Thank you for making the club we love even bigger. Thank you for everything, Leo.”

Putellas is as much of a legend for Barcelona’s women’s team as Messi is for the men’s side, though.

After one year in Barca’s academy and attending Xavi training camps as a child, she went on to sign for Barcelona’s senior team in 2012. This was despite fears she couldn’t have a career in football due to her gender.

Putellas helped Barcelona win the domestic treble before being awarded the Ballon d’OrAFP

Putellas is adored by Spain fansGetty

Since then she’s won seven league titles and as many Copa de la Reinas, plus two women’s Champions Leagues amongst other accolades.

Playing as a left-sided attacking midfielder, Putellas acts as Barcelona and Spain’s playmaker, with her technical ability and passing precision helping her to create plenty of chances for her club and country.

She also thrives in one-on-ones.

Barcelona men’s manager Xavi once hailed her as ‘the best player in the world’ and her former Levante coach Antonio Contreras said she reminded him of Barca legend Andres Iniesta.

“She is very intelligent on the pitch, technically good but now she’s more tactical,” Levante told The Athletic.

Spain could become just the second nation to have won both the men’s and women’s World Cup after GermanyGetty

And her hero status translates at international level, too.

After originally representing Catalonia as a child, Putellas began playing for Spain’s youth teams at 15, earning her first senior cap in 2013 and has now scored 28 goals in 104 appearances.

She was part of Spain’s first ever World Cup squad in 2015 and has been called up for each of their appearances the competition, helping her country reach the last-16 in 2019 and now the final this summer.

Putellas has played in every game down under and will undoubtedly play a role in the final against England on Sunday where she will look to ensure Spain can call themselves world champions in both men and women’s game.

The Lionesses knocked Spain out in the Euros – a tournament Putellas missed due to her Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury – last summer to deny them European glory.

Spain will likely be out for revenge on Sarina Wiegman’s side as well as a first ever World Cup.

Listen to live talkSPORT commentary of the Women’s World Cup final between England and Spain at 11am on Sunday 20 August

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