Spain manager Jorge Vilda has vowed his team will come together and ‘fight even more’ after star player Alexia Putellas was ruled out of Euro 2022 on the eve of the tournament with an ACL injury.
Spain are heralded as many people’s favourites at this summer’s European Championship after enjoying sustained success at youth level for the past decade, breezing through qualifying and boasting the spine of the Barcelona team in their 23-player squad.
However, their chances of lifting a maiden major trophy suffered a setback on Tuesday when Putellas injured her left knee in training. Tests revealed it to be an ACL rupture, and the playmaker was forced to withdraw from the squad just three days before Spain’s Euro 2022 campaign kicks off.
“The day before yesterday was not the best: it was a big shock, a huge blow for everyone: for the team and for [Alexia], thinking about what she’s going to miss,” Vilda said.
“But the next day, 48 hours before our first match, the team met, it came together, united and made a promise. We can’t let the sadness and anger over what has happened [affect us]. There is no choice but to come together, be stronger, and fight even more.”
Spain’s Euro 2022 hopes had already been dealt a blow in June when all-time top scorer Jenni Hermoso was ruled out of the tournament after spraining a ligament in her knee, with Putellas adding to her side’s injury absentees.
La Roja begin their Euro 2022 campaign on Friday against Finland, and Vilda admitted while Putellas’ loss was one felt by the team, he was confident he still possessed a squad capable of competing in her absence.
“It’s not just football; it’s about the group too. Hers is an absence we feel,” the Spain coach said of Putellas. “But I want to show total confidence in the 23 players we have: there are alternatives and quite a few players who can play on the inside left of midfield.
“Our philosophy comes above all else and we have 23 players who can play that way perfectly.”