Bonmatí on target as Spain cruise to opening day World Cup win with Putellas on bench

Gametime given to three Barça players who withdrew from squad contention last year

Aitana Bonmatí strikes Spain's second goal in the World Cup opener against Costa Rica
Aitana Bonmatí strikes Spain's second goal in the World Cup opener against Costa Rica / Broadcast feed screenshot
Cillian Shields

Cillian Shields | @pile_of_eggs | Barcelona

July 21, 2023 12:13 PM

July 21, 2023 12:39 PM

Spain's Women's World Cup campaign is off to a strong start after the 3-0 defeat of Costa Rica on Friday. 

Barça's Aitana Bonmatí was on the scoresheet alongside Real Madrid's Esther González and an own goal from Valeria del Campo, but one of the main surprises of the day came ahead of kick-off, when it emerged that two-time Ballon d'Or winner Alexia Putellas was left on the bench. 

Putellas returned from a lengthy ACL injury in the back-end of last season and hasn't played much over the past year, but was introduced to the fray with around quarter of an hour remaining. 

It was a swashbuckling first half performance from the Spanish side that saw them roar to the three goal lead. From there, La Roja were comfortably able to keep control of proceedings until the end. 

Spain are in group C of the World Cup taking place in Australia and New Zeland alongside Japan, Zambia, and Costa Rica. 

After a disappointing narrow defeat to eventual winners England in the quarter-final of last summer's European Championships, there will be hope and expectation that this hugely talented squad will be able to go far in an international tournament for the first time.   

Tense build-up

Spain's build-up to the tournament was fraught with tension when, last September, 15 players sent emails to the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) demanding improvements in the organization of the team and requesting not to be selected for international duty until such changes were made. 

Without naming manager Jorge Vilda, who has been in charge since 2015, the subtext was clear: they wanted the manager to go. It's also been reported that the players wanted to see improvements in economic compensation, sporting structure, and travel arrangements for games and tournaments. 

The majority of those players were from FC Barcelona, winners of two of the past three Champions League titles, while some others were playing at other foreign clubs, all operating in highly professionalized environments that it's likely the players wanted to see replicated with the national team. 

Three of the players who sent such emails have since returned to the fray: Aitana Bonmatí, Mariona Caldentey, and Ona Batlle, who recently signed for FC Barcelona during this summer. 

Two other players, Irene Paredes and Alexia Putellas, didn't send the emails but are believed to be at least sympathetic to the cause of the 15. Paredes acted as a sort of spokesperson for the group, while Putellas - out injured at the time - shared social media messages backing them.