With 552 players registered for the FIFA Women’s World Cup this summer, it can be a little tricky to know where to look and who to watch. With a healthier number of representatives than any other confederation, UEFA teams will make up 39 percent of the nations at the tournament, so kicking off with five European players to watch out for seems like a sensible way to start…
Alexia Putellas (Spain)
Barcelona’s faithful No11 is one of the undisputed stars of the Catalan club, the fizzy left-sided midfielder one of the most creative players in the Spanish team (which is saying something).
Deployed anywhere from central midfield to wide left or even right wing, Putellas isn’t afraid to rove, linking play and sparking Spain into life. Despite the wealth of attacking talent in Jorge Vilda’s team, La Roja have too often found themselves out of ideas and requiring a moment of magic with Putellas one of the routine providers in the group.
Wendie Renard (France)
The fox in the box as it were, “Big Wendie” Renard has been France’s 6’2 defensive rock for the best part of a decade. An astute defender who can see danger approaching, Renard uses her stature to her advantage, either to extend her legs and reach a ball that already looked gone or to rise above those around her. Her aerial prowess in both boxes consistently crucial for Les Bleues, the former captain with a fantastic knack for heading the ball; both away from Sarah Bouhaddi’s goal as well as into the back of the opposition’s.
Fridolina Rolfö (Sweden)
A league winner in her native Sweden, Fridolina Rolfö profile rose considerably when she moved to Bayern München – despite a few injury hiccups along the way. One of the standouts of Bayern’s 2017-18 season when she returned to fitness, the rangy Swede’s incredible work-rate and persistence on the left helped keep the Bavarians in a Champions League berth. This season has seen more of the same from Rolfö in Germany, and although she’s likely to take up a different position for Sweden this summer, her tenacity on the ball and fondness for having a punt will always make her a player to keep an eye on.
Lea Schüller (Germany)
Although it remains unclear how greatly Lea Schüller will feature in Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s plans for this World Cup – as most things surrounding MVT remain more a guessing game for those outside of the national team – the young attacker should be on everyone’s radar.
Coming along leaps and bound each season, the 21-year-old has been lighting up Frauen-Bundesliga pitches up and down Germany for some time, the 2017-18 season her real breakout. Forming an indomitable partnership with fellow national teamers, Linda Dallmann and Turid Knaak, Schüller have catapulted SGS Essen up the league table. Although both Dallmann and Knaak are well worthy of praise, for Schüller, it’s been about watching the striker go to work, her understanding of when to shoot and when to take a touch combined with a natural finish has made her one of the standout stars in the FBL.
Jill Scott (England)
Bound for her fourth World Cup, Jill Scott isn’t going to be one of the breakout stars announcing herself on the world stage this summer, the 32-year-old England centurion a player who has already been there and done it. Despite being one of the more senior players in Phil Neville’s squad, Scott remains England’s engine room, the experienced midfield having barely slowed down as she’s raced through her career. One of the few pure box-to-box midfielders in women’s football, there is rarely a blade of grass Scott’s boots haven’t grazed over 90 minutes. Her breathless intensity and relentless stamina allowing her to keep running for the cause, pushing England on in attack and getting back to cover each match, every match. The lanky midfielder is truly one of the unsung heroes in the England squad.
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