“A lot of people in Mexico were talking about the growth in the Spanish league, the increasing number of foreigners here, the growth in its popularity with the fans and the fact that it was becoming bigger and more competitive all the time,” said Nayeli Rangel, the captain of Mexico’s women’s national team, looking back on her move to Spanish side Sporting de Huelva. “And as a professional player, you’re always looking to go where standards are high. That’s why I set myself the challenge of coming to Spain.”

The Monterrey-born midfielder is not the first Tri international to try her luck in La Liga, as she told FIFA.com: “Both Kenti (Robles) and Pamela (Tajonar) had spoken to me about it, and Maribel (Dominguez) said I should come, because the pace of the game here would help me be more competitive. I’m happy with the decision I made.”

Another illustrious Mexico international currently plying her trade in Spain is Charlyn Corral. Now in her second season in La Liga, Corral will be facing off with Rangel this coming Sunday, when her Levante side take on Sporting de Huelva on Matchday 21 of the league season.

A veteran of two FIFA Women’s World Cup™ competitions and no fewer than three U-20 World Cups, Corral reflected on her time in Spain so far: “It was tough to begin with because although I came here with my CV and national team experience, I wasn’t that well known. There were big expectations but some question marks too. I think I’ve improved my technique a lot here and the way I read games. I can play in any formation now and I can adapt better to what every coach wants and is looking for from me.”

Both players are aware of the fact that regular league football will help them develop their games and make them much stronger when it comes to representing their country. “You gain in match fitness and consistency,” said Rangel. “Training keeps you disciplined, which is very positive, because it’s not the same to be out there training on your own.” For her part, Corral, who is a Sports MBA graduate and divides her time between playing for Levante and studying for an International Sport Management MBA, said: “You’re also coming up against different styles of football, and the competition for places makes you work harder.”

Both are excited at the imminent launch of a new women’s league in Mexico. “I’m very pleased as a Mexican because I want to see my country making progress,” said the 25-year-old Rangel. “Up to now, Mexican women’s football has achieved an awful lot with very little. I hope it’s a stable and lasting project because there’s a lot of talent around, a lot of girls who deserve an opportunity. It’s going to help us become stronger on the international scene. Hopefully, in the future we won’t just be reaching World Cups but actually competing right to the end of them.”

“I’d love to play in front of my people, especially because I’ve been away from home for so long, first in the USA, then Finland and now in Spain,” added Corral. “I do see myself playing there in the future, with my people, with my family and the new generations coming through.”

After contemplating what is an exciting future, the Mexican pair returned to the present and the domestic competition that pits them against each other. “Sporting have been doing well,” said Rangel, making the case for her team ahead of Sunday’s league encounter. “We’ve overcome a few departures and injuries, and I think we deserve a win because we’ve been playing well, to the best of our ability. I think we’ll win 2-1.”

“I’m pleased Nayeli will be playing after her injury scare, but I think we’re going to win 3-0,” replied the Levante forward.

It remains to be seen which of them will be proved right.