Monday 06 August 2018, 22:40

The advantages of being on Patri’s side

  • Patri Guijarro scored the first hat-trick of France 2018 in Spain’s opening match

  • The midfielder is a veteran of the last FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup

  • Her team-mates and coach reveal what she brings to the team

Patri Guijarro wasted little time in confirming that she would be one of the players to watch at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018. The midfielder was the star of the show as La Rojita beat Paraguay 4-1 in their opening match of the tournament, scoring three of her side’s goals and setting up Claudia Pina for the other.

“We enjoy that kind of challenge,” she said in an interview with a few months ago, her thoughts already turning to France 2018. Well established at the highest level with Barcelona and a first-choice for Spain’s senior national team, Guijarro has her sights firmly set on success over the next couple of weeks.

As the “Dare To Shine” Player of the Match made her way to the dressing room afterwards, we caught up with some of her team-mates and her coach and asked them what it means to have a player like Guijarro in the Spain side.

Pedro Lopez, coach

The Rojita coach could barely conceal his delight during the post-match press conference. “She’s vital to us, and not just because of what she has to offer on the pitch. She’s a big character in the team and that rubs off on the rest when we’re not playing. She’s a leader on the pitch and off it and she does a very important job.”

Aitana Bonmati, team captain

Bonmati provided the assist for Guijarro’s third goal against Paraguay. Team-mates for club and country, they have known each other since their U-16 days and have played together several times for the senior national team. As Bonmati explained, Guijarro helps bring the squad together. “She’s always cracking jokes or clowning around. That’s the way she is,” said the skipper with a smile. Hailing Guijarro’s versatility on the pitch, Bonmati added: “When she plays a holding role, she brings a lot of balance to the team, but as we’ve seen today, she can also play a more advanced role. She can make runs into the box and she’s got a great shot on her.”

Paraguay v Spain: Group C - FIFA U-20 Women's  World Cup France 2018

Claudia Pina, the day’s other goalscorer

Pina jumped straight from the U-17s to the U-20s and showed why with her performance against the Paraguayans. Though she did not link up with Guijarro much on the pitch on Monday, they do have a perfect understanding. “I did a one-two with Patri, ran on, cut inside, hit a cross-shot and in it went.” Before heading off for her bowl of pasta, Pina explained why they connected so well for the goal. “It’s easy to play with someone like her because she understands you. She knows how to play football, and in the end, everything works out how it did today.”

Eva Navarro, predicted Guijarro’s stellar display and assisted on her third goal

“I said before we went out that she was going to have a great game. She’s got a lot of experience, she plays in the first division with Barcelona and she can win a game on her own.” Along with Pina, Navarro is another of the team’s new faces and forced her way into the squad after starring in Spain’s 2018 UEFA Women’s U-17 Championship win. A thorn on Paraguay’s left flank, she set up Guijarro for Spain’s third goal of the day. “She’s the perfect all-round player. She’s got the lot.”