Spain have sounded the alarm. They’re here to win.
The European side showed no mercy in their opening clash against Costa Rica and flattered their opponents by only converting three of the 46 shots they had on goal.
A new FIFA record to attempts on target (12) and, moreover, the Spaniards enjoyed 80 per cent of possession throughout the 90 minutes.
And the mindblowing stats didn’t stop there.
Costa Rica recorded 33 total accurate passes in the first half of the match a number eclipsed by three individual Spanish players; Teresa Abelleira – 46, Irene Paredes – 37 and Ona Batlle – 36.
In a match played in cold and wet conditions, the first goal arrived in the 21st minute when Costa Rica defender Valeria del Campo sliced a low cross from Esther Gonzalez into her own net.
Aitana Bonmati doubled the lead before Gonzalez grabbed the third with a close-range volley.
It should have been four soon afterwards but Jennifer Hermoso was denied from the penalty spot by goalkeeper Daniela Solera, who was a critical figure in keeping the scoreline down.
Solera made nine saves, including a host of fingertip efforts in the second half, in a performance described by Costa Rica coach Amelia Valverde as “extraordinary”.
Putellas’ Barcelona team-mate Bonmati was instead the game’s dominant figure, named player of the match after creating numerous chances and finding the net herself.
Bonmati was among a group of 15 who made themselves unavailable for selection in a player revolt against Vilda that rocked Spain’s World Cup preparations.
She and two others ended a nine-month exile to play at the World Cup. Vilda said he didn’t want to “look backwards” when asked if the issue was still creating tension.
9:40AM CAN CHINA MAKE AN IMPACT?
Coach Shui Qingxia said Friday she hoped the Women’s World Cup will help usher a new dawn for China, starting with a “very significant” opening match against Denmark in Perth.
China were an early powerhouse at the showpiece event, finishing fourth in 1995 and then runners-up to the United States in 1999.
But they’ve failed to get past the quarter-finals since, and were knocked out in the round of 16 at the 2019 event in France.
Overtaken by several European nations, China’s status as a women’s football heavyweight diminished, but a surprise triumph at last year’s Asian Cup ended a 16-year title drought.
Qingxia, China’s first woman head coach, hoped the momentum would reignite their status as a world force.
“I want this to be a fresh start for this generation,” she told reporters ahead of China’s opener on Saturday.
“I hope we can give our best performance in this tournament. Everything has a start, I think.
“I think in the past, (our) players played under a lot of pressure (at World Cups).
“We need to enjoy the game of football and our teammates.”
8:45AM HIDEOUS TACKLE MARS WORLD CUP
It only took until the 98th minute of the fourth match of the tournament but the Women’s World Cup has seen its first red card and it was a horrific tackle.
Nigeria’s Deborah Abiodun was dismissed for her brutal challenge on Canada’s Ashley Lawrence with studs up high on the striker’s ankle.
Initially Abiodun was only shown the yellow before VAR intervened and upgraded the sanction to a straight red which will see the 19-year-old sit out her side’s second clash against Australia on July 27 in Brisbane.
The match ended 0-0 after Canadian veteran Christine Sinclair missed a penalty.
8:12AM NBA CELEB COMES TO WWC
Some big names are set to take to the field on day three of the tournament, none moreso carries a surname with so much history as Trinity Rodman.
The youngest child of the NBA legend Dennis stands to make her World Cup debut tonight when the USA take on Vietnam.
But she doesn’t want to be known as ‘Dennis’ daughter’.
“He was an amazing athlete,” she said. “I got those genes from him, but I’m excited to be known as Trinity Rodman and not just as Rodman’s daughter.
“I’m excited to pave my own path and get better throughout this journey.”
7:15AM MESSI MAGIC TRAVELS WITH FRANCE
Herve Renard masterminded defeat of Lionel Messi’s Argentina in the Qatar World Cup group stage and now is hoping to experience more “emotions that you can’t buy” at the Women’s World Cup.
The 54-year-old gave up a lucrative contract as coach of Saudi Arabia’s men — who he led to a famous win over eventual champions Argentina in Qatar — to take over the women’s team of his native France.
They face Jamaica on Sunday in Sydney in their Group F opener and Renard told AFP that money is not what drives him.
“I go looking for emotions. World Cups are magical,” he said in the lead-up to the tournament in Australia and New Zealand.
“Australia is a football country that likes women’s sports. The stadiums will be full and there will be a great atmosphere. These are emotions that you can’t buy.
“What I experienced a few months ago against Argentina, I could have been the richest man in the world and I wouldn’t be able to buy the emotions.
“So I will be looking for these emotions again. That is my adrenaline and I hope to experience more unforgettable moments.”
Originally published as FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 schedule, results, groups: Spain set mind blowing record