She regularly appears on the front cover of leading Spanish newspapers, has over 90,000 fans at the Nou Camp chanting her name at once, is on the back of the shirt of nearly every Barcelona fan and is the current Ballon d’Or winner – but Alexia Putillas will do just that. It will not be at Euro 2022.
England and Austria will open the tournament at Old Trafford for sale, on Wednesday night, but many fans are still digesting the news that came from Spain 24 hours ago.
Putillas, currently the best player in the world, suffered an attack anterior cruciate ligament injury In Spain training on Tuesday, he will miss the tournament.
The Barcelona captain is the face of Spanish women’s football and may be tipped by many to be one of the stars of this summer’s Euros.
“It’s a big blow to the championship.”
“It’s the worst possible news on the eve of the tournament,” England and Everton midfielder Izzie Christiansen told BBC Sport, while Spanish football journalist David Minajo described it as a “jug of cold water” thrown over his country.
Christiansen, billed as the biggest European championship in women’s football history, said the failure to attend the Ballon d’Or winner was “devastating” for the fans.
“The Ballon d’Or winner, the most amazing player to watch, is not going to perform. It’s devastating for all the fans coming, not only in Spain, but in all countries,” she added.
“You want to have fun and watch players of this caliber do their job. It’s a huge loss for the tournament and for the broader impact you’re having at Barcelona and in her country.
“This week a journalist talked about how they’ve never heard the name of a single player chanted more loudly and prominently by fans than Alexia Putellas. It gives you an indication of how much of an impact she has.”
England record maker Fara Williams told BBC Sport it was “not surprising” that Potilas had become a “big star and a globally recognized name” given her recent form with Barcelona.
“The way the Barcelona team played has attracted attention. When you see them, they are one of the outstanding players,” she said.
“It’s a huge blow. We are already missing some famous players and those you want to see in the tournament to showcase the women’s match at its best.”
To what extent will it affect Spain?
Led by Botelas, Spain geared up for the tournament as one of the bookmakers’ favorites.
The bulk of the squad is made up of the stars of Barcelona, the club that won the Champions League in 2021 and reached the second consecutive final this season.
And while the team is still brimming with quality, have their chances of winning the championship diminished due to Putellas’ injury?
“It’s a huge loss,” Christiansen said. “It’s a very huge loss, and it doesn’t play a devastating role. It’s key to everything Spain does.”
“They have a clear identity in the way they play but a lot of that depends on someone taking the ball the way Botelas does in tricky areas under pressure. It controls the overloading that helps break teams.
“I think that weakens Spain’s chances of progressing throughout the tournament. It will have a huge impact on the team. This is the worst possible case for Spain but they have to find a way to go forward without it.”
Christiansen said it would be an opportunity for one of Potilas’ teammates but Williams insisted they would need to recover mentally ahead of Spain’s opener against Finland on Friday.
“Spain were so much stronger with the Putellas,” Williams said. “I always felt like they might have come out early anyway, but he’s definitely weakening them without the Putellas.”
“You become a family in the big leagues so it will have an impact on the team – no matter who it is. It will be difficult to do and I think Spain will struggle. At least they have a few days to mentally recover who he-she is.”
Spanish journalist Minaio, writing for the national newspaper Marca, said Spain had switched from “the favorite to the candidate”.
“Alexia is a decisive player but also a key partner in the group,” he said. “Spain have a good team and great players but it is clear that they lost a lot.”
“You can win chess without the Queen but it’s very difficult. The players will have to rebuild themselves emotionally. If they can beat Finland and get a good result against Germany, the horizon can stop looking so black.”