By Michelle Taylor
1. PATRI GUIJARRO / BARCELONA
Stellar play from the Barcelona midfielder over the past two seasons saw her selected for the Spanish senior team that won the Algarve Cup, before she slipped back into the U19 side to win the 2017 EUROs in Northern Ireland. In that competition, she also won Golden Shoe & Player of the Tournament. She’s back in the Spanish senior squad, and has all but cemented her selection by scoring in two of the three WWC qualifiers played so far – the most crucial being a 90+3’ goal vs. Serbia that turned a draw into a win for Spain. She is equally comfortable in defence and attack, and can unleash some strong shots on goal from distance or arrive into the box to receive a key pass to score. With recent injuries to Vicky Losada, the 19yo is relishing her playing time and having the best year of her life, so far.
2. CHARLYN CORRAL / LEVANTE UD
There is no such thing as a bad season for the Mexican International. Since arriving in 2015 to play for Levante UD, Corral scored 22 in her first season and 20 last season. This season she has already scored 13 goals in the 13 games that she has played, and there are still 17 games to play. Charlyn is equally comfortable shooting with either foot which makes her a threat from anywhere on the pitch, and the pinpoint accuracy of her long range shots into the top corners has to be seen to be believed.
3. MARTA TORREJON / BARCELONA
At the age of 27, the Barcelona defender is one of those players who just keeps getting better. A stalwart of the Spanish National team for 10 years, Torrejón is now the team captain and the most-capped Spanish player with over 70 games for La Absoluta. Always a first-choice playing right centre-back, last season saw Marta make a switch to right-back for both club and country which has seen her developing an attacking element to her game as she overlaps on the wing to provide crosses and key passes into the box. She is also a target for attacking set pieces where, if the ball can find her, she has a good chance of putting it into the net.
4. MAPI LEON / ATLETI, BARCELONA
In 2014 at 19yo, the left centre-back joined Atléti Madrid where she honed her skills and is now one of the best CBs in Spain. She was selected for the Spain squad in 2016, making her debut in a Euro qualification 13-0 win vs. Montenegro. Barcelona signed her at the beginning of this season, and her transfer created history as she became the first player on a paid transfer between Spanish clubs, and the first Spanish player on a paid transfer. Mapi’s ability to read the play is almost prescient, and her accurate long balls to the Forwards often surprise opposition teams who find themselves scrambling to defend the sudden attacking opportunities that she can provide.
5. MARIASUN QUINONES / REAL SOCIEDAD
The Real Sociedad player is one of the most formidable goalkeepers in the league and I’d rate her as the best at stopping goals in one-on-one confrontations. La Real started this season playing Valencia, Atléti and Barcelona in consecutive games and, although they lost all three, only one goal per game was conceded, largely due to Mariasun’s prowess in front of the net. Mariasun played the 2016 U20 WWC in Papua New Guinea for Spain. Since then, she has also been selected in the Spanish senior squad for the Algarve Cup and the UEFA EUROs in The Netherlands. The 21yo has a stellar career ahead of her, and I won’t be too surprised if there are a lot of player management agencies already lining up to sign her.
6. MARTA UNZUE / BARCELONA
If there is one player who should be given a prize for year after year of consistent high-quality play, it’s Unzué. An 11-year veteran of FC Barcelona, she is a dependable utility player who can slot in at right-back or as a Defensive midfielder – the latter position is one to which she has effortlessly adapted in the past couple of seasons. This year has also seen Marta play at right centre-back, after a season-ending injury to Left-back Leila Ouahabi has Barça re-jigging their backline. Since last December, Unzué has played in three different teams – Barcelona at club level, and for the Basque Country and for Navarra in Spanish regional friendly games. Somehow she has never been considered for Spain – something which results in a lot of head scratching by those who watch her and know how her calibre of play would add immense value to La Absoluta.
7. MARI PAZ VILAS / VALENCIA
It’s a rare game when Mari Paz doesn’t score a goal. The Galician striker is quick to turn the slightest opportunity into a goal and is formidable in front of the net. She is the key player in Valencia’s attacking dynamic. She has scored 85 goals for Valencia and 13 goals in six games for Spain. She finished the 2016-2017 season in 3rd place with 28 goals, and has eight from her 12 games played so far for this season.
8. MAITE OROZ / ATHLETIC CLUB BILBAO
Already with a Liga, U17 & U19 Euro titles, and 2014 U17 WWC runner-up medal, Oroz plays for Athletic Club Bilbao. The attacking midfielder is one of the most dynamic in her position and she impresses with every game. Her linkup play to the forward line provides many scoring opportunities, and she’s not too shy to take a long distance shot at goal either – scoring an absolute belter in a recent Navarra vs. Catalunya friendly played in Pamplona.
9. YULEMA CORRES / ATHLETIC CLUB BILBAO
Another sparkling player about whom we all wonder why she hasn’t been considered for Spanish selection. If Corres is fit, she’s in the Athletic Club Bilbao team, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she is the first player written on the list each week. A strong player on the left wing, if Yulema can receive the ball in the box, it’s going to be a goal. This season, she has netted seven times in 14 games.
10. ERIKA VAZQUEZ / ATHLETIC CLUB BILBAO
At 34, the former Spanish International is certainly out to prove that she’s not finished yet, and she’s having one of her best years in attack for Athletic Club Bilbao. Erika is the life force of the team. If she’s having a good game, the rest of the players tap into that energy and they are unstoppable. She is particularly good at reviving the team in the latter stages of a match and, if Athletic Club is behind at that point, they won’t be for long. You can never count the team as dead and buried as long as Erika is on the pitch. The Forward has scored seven goals in 11 games played so far this season.