USWNT star Megan Rapinoe has tipped Spain for glory at UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 in the summer, citing the significance of Barcelona’s recent European dominance club level and putting La Roja ahead of the likes of France and hosts England.
Spain haven’t been beyond the quarter-finals of a major international tournament since 1997 and have been eliminated at the last eight stage of the last two European Championships.
But their development over the last decade has been clear to see and has accelerated considerably in more recent years, underpinned by a core of Barcelona players enjoying incredible success at club level. As such, Rapinoe and others expect them to do well come the summer.
“I think they definitely could [win Euro 2022],” she told 90min’s Football Americana podcast.
“I think that they’re right there and I think they have the like…you always need like that kind of juice, or that momentum, or that confidence, or something. And I just feel like they’re in a good place.
“They’re just so much fun to watch. I feel like sometimes through the team that starts to put on the show, you just get that kind of vibe. And obviously, you’ve got the Ballon d’Or winner [Alexia Putellas]…a lot to handle there.”
Rapinoe credits Spain for the way they play and suggested that few will want to face them. She came up against them in the last 16 of the 2019 World Cup with the United States, a Spanish side featuring Putellas and seven others from Barcelona’s current squad, and only narrowly won.
“The Spanish team has been coming for four or five years now," the 36-year-old explained. "Obviously, Alexia has taken on the Ballon d’Or as the best player this year, so well deserved. I think they’re really pushing the boundary a lot. They’re always horribly frustrating to play against.
“It’s like [playing against] the old Japan teams – you just didn’t want to play them. You never had the ball, you could never get it and didn’t understand where and how all these passes were being made…it was just next level and so frustrating."
Rapinoe, having played for Lyon earlier in her career and recently a teammate of Eugenie Le Sommer and Sarah Bouhaddi at OL Reign, considers France one of her personal favourite teams, but is concerned they might be a ‘little disoriented’ at this moment in time.
“I know a lot of the players have been not called in, or called in and had some issues with the coach and all that, I feel like they’re a little disoriented right now,” the American explained.
“I feel like 2019, they just had an incredible team and I feel like didn’t maximise their squad. The fact that like Eugenie was playing out on the left wing was just a gift from God for the entire rest of the World Cup teams. I was like, that’s just crazy.”
As for England, Rapinoe praised the improving and changing quality of the WSL.
“England, always right in there,” she said. “Obviously, [with] the Super League they’re starting to get way more internationals. And I think that that league is becoming a little bit more transitional, a little bit more higher paced, which I think they need.
"I think the standard bearer would be the Barcelona team right now. But I think there’s still, when you get to the national team level, a little bit to be decided. The 2023 World Cup is going to be bonkers.”
Football Americana with former USWNT player Yael Averbuch West is part of the 90min family of football podcasts and episodes are available to listen to now.