The 2023 Women’s World Cup at long last reached a conclusion with Spain beating England 1-0 in the final to win the trophy in Sydney.
Spain were quick to book a spot, overcoming Sweden in the first semifinal, then England also eliminated competition co-host Australia, with each triumphant side cruising to the finals, hoping to come out on top for its first World Cup trophy.
On the evening, Olga Carmona’s first-half completed ended up being the distinction. Mary Earps denied Jennifer Hermoso from the penalty spot to allow England an opportunity at retaliating into the match, but the Lionesses just couldn’t create the scoring chances they required. Thus, Spain won their very first Women’s World Cup crown, and deservedly so.
The La Roja coach was booed by the crowd when he held the trophy on high and celebrated triumph with scarcely a congratulatory gesture from his players, but regardless of everything, he was a title holder, and that qualification will mean justification.
Since 15 of his players kept in touch with the Spanish alliance (RFEF) last October to raise worries about Vilda’s coaching style and other issues in the background, the 42-year-old has been troubled, battling off questions concerning roles in the team and why he decided to leave 12 of the supposed “las 15” out of his team for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Interestingly, when his team beat the Netherlands in the quarterfinal, just a single substitute embraced Vilda toward the end. He was overlooked by each and every player on the pitch.
There was also an absence of warmth after the elimination round win against Sweden, and as the Spain players celebrated at the end of their 1-0 win against England in the final in Sydney, they did as such without Vilda.
When they danced in celebration after he gave a postmatch address in a huddle, Vilda tried to join in, although the players had their backs to him. It was a different story when Billie Jean King later joined the celebrations, and every player huddled together for a team photo with the tennis legend.
Again, when the Spanish revolt took steps to cost him his work last year, Vilda, whose dad, Ángel, is the head of the federation’s women’s’ department, was given the unequivocal sponsorship of RFEF president Luis Rubiales.
It made a crack inside the team that has still not recuperated, yet it is a reality that numerous teams and competitors the world over perform for coaches they could do without, and Vilda is only the most recent in that lengthy line.
Aitana Bonmatí, who set the vibe and rhythm in Spain’s midfield as they passed circles around England in Sunday’s Finals, put the win solidly on the players.
“Today, we went out on pitch to send the message: we are here, we have grown as players, we are not the same team as years ago — we can compete, fight for every ball and win, but we also know how to suffer. I’m so happy for everyone.
“I think it’s super important winning this trophy because of the young people that can see they can be pro football players right now.”
Meanwhile, Vilda’s response was to focus on the end result and not the things that led them here.
“I’ve always said that if all the suffering was necessary to become world champions, it would be worth it,” he told reporters after the final. “It’s been difficult at a personal level in management, but on a sporting level, we’ve achieved results that we’ve never achieved before.
“I am very happy that we are champions of the world.”
Vilda has dealt with the difficult issue of Alexia Putellas, the Ballon d’Or winner in 2021 and 2022, by dropping her from the team when it has been clear that her fitness since returning from a cruciate ligament injury in April has not been sufficient to warrant a starting spot.
Going into a World Cup last without his – – and perhaps the world’s – – best player on the pitch was a huge decision, but it was the right one.
Also, he involved 19-year-old winger Salma Paralluelo as a prefect substitute in the quarterfinal and semifinal round, and on the two events she scored pivotal goals to assist with getting win.
This is Spain’s first World Cup on the Women’s side of their program, yet the Spanish ladies won the latest edition of the under-20 and U17 big showdowns and their U19 side are the European champions.
Against England, similarly as against Sweden and the Netherlands, Spain won by an overwhelming possession and playing with speed and width. They are a team of profundity and quality, and what’s in store is clearly brilliant.
Spain are the new World Cup winners in spite of everything, tearing up the standard book and opposing convention to become title holders.