Youth tournaments are showcases for stars of the future. The next big thing in football. The future GOAT. The recently-concluded FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup was no exception.
Spain emerged as winners at the end, repeating their opening day encounter by defeating the same opponent (Colombia) by the same scoreline (1-0). In doing so, they became the first team to successfully defend their title. They scored 7 goals at the tournament (1 own goal) and demonstrated some good defensive performances to bring the cup home.
Spain had recently won the 2022 edition of the U-20 Women’s World Cup in August, continuing the theme of picking up silverware at the youth level on a consistent basis since 2018.
Five Madridistas were part of the Spanish U-17 squad and contributed to their victorious run: Carla Camacho, Paula Partido, Sofía Fuente, Olaya Rodríguez, and Noelia Correro. Here is brief breakdown of their performances at the tournament.
Sofía Fuente was the starting goalkeeper for Spain and was awarded the Golden Glove, recognizing her as the best goalkeeper at the tournament. She managed to keep 4 clean sheets in total. Sofía was able to showcase her shot-stopping abilities, producing some good 1v1 moments, including a big save in the final early on. At age 17, there is a long road ahead of her and multiple areas for improvement, such as her passing under pressure and distribution, but it’s safe to say that she had a solid tournament.
Carla Camacho started all but one game for Spain, coming off the bench in the other. She was the only real striker option in the squad and, thus, led the line in most games. The 17-year-old striker couldn’t find the back of the net in the tournament but provided a different element in attack. Her physical dominance and live-wire nature on the pitch helped Spain close down ball carriers from the front. She works hard without the ball and is an agent of chaos in the box.
She is very eager to get off shots after getting an inch of space, allowing her to test the keeper frequently. However, that also leads to sub-optimal attempts at times. Other areas of her play aren’t as polished, like her passing and her back-to-goal work, but she has more than enough times to hone those skills.
Paula Partido was another player that featured in all six games, starting three of them and playing a total of 247 minutes at the tournament. The winger was directly responsible for creating the opportunity that won Spain the title, carrying the ball well and putting a cross into the box. Partido’s ability to beat her mark using her pace while attacking space to generate crossing opportunities are arguably her biggest strengths, and it was evident at the tournament.
She is a different sort of dribbler to Athenea and has some stylistic similarities to how Naomie Feller attempts her take-ons. As with all players aged 17, there are areas that aren’t as refined — although Partido’s crossing is good, she needs to add a bit of variety in her final balls.
Olaya featured in five games and started in three of them. Operating as a left-sided interior, she had a decent showing every time and did what was asked of her. She looks composed on the ball and does the basics in circulation and retention well.
The right back was not a starter at the tournament but came off the bench three time (including in the final) to help Spain see out games.
In all, Real Madrid seem to have some good very young players in their ranks and it will be interesting to see how they progress and are incorporated into the first team.