REIMS – United States coach Jill Ellis believes the emergence of nations such as Spain and Italy as forces in women’s football bodes well for the future despite the potential threat to her country’s dominance on the world stage.
The USA are the World Cup holders and are widely expected to beat Spain in the last 16 of this year’s tournament in Reims on Monday.
Spain won the men’s World Cup in 2010, in between winning Euro 2008 and Euro 2012, but this is the first time their women have reached the knockout phase.
Their performance comes with Italy having returned to the knockout stage for the first time in two decades, while the Netherlands have made it through to the last 16 fresh from winning Euro 2017 on home soil.
“With the utmost respect to Spain, I think there are a lot of programmes and a lot of teams now that have had the backing of federations and seen the growth of the game domestically,” Ellis said at a press conference ahead of Monday’s match.