Spain

The past
Though women’s football has yet to really take off in Spain, La Selección can still point to a continental title in their trophy cabinet. Spain’s U-19 women’s side were crowned European champions in 2004, thus earning the right to appear at that year’s edition of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Thailand. Once there, Las Rojitas won one of their three group games though missed out on progress to the knockout phase on goal difference.

The present
After finishing runners-up at the 2009 UEFA Women’s Under-17 Championship, five members of that squad were part of La Selección which went one step further at the same event a year later. Under coach Jorge Vilda, who put the triumph down to togetherness and a talented crop of youngsters, Spain topped their group in both of their pre-tournament qualifying rounds without losing a game – scoring 33 goals and conceding just three in the process. At the final tournament proper, Las Rojitas followed up a 3-0 win over the Netherlands in the last four by overcoming the Republic of Ireland 4-1 on penalties after the final finished goalless after extra time.

The future
“Given that a Spanish women’s side have only previously reached one FIFA competition and failed to negotiate the group stage, in principle overcoming that barrier in Trinidad and Tobago would be considered a good performance,” said coach Vilda. “We’re taking steps in the right direction and I believe we’re closer to making the breakthrough.”

Facts and figures

Key players
Amanda Sampedro, Laura Gutierrez, Dolores Gallardo, Sara Merida, Raquel Pinel

Qualifying statistics
Spain won 5 and drew 3 of their eight encounters, scoring 36 goals and conceding only 3.

The numbers game
0 – The number of games Las Rojitas lost on their way to clinching a place at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Trinidad and Tobago 2010.