In the marquee matchup of Group E two traditional men’s soccer powerhouses in Brazil and Spain will face-off for the first time in women’s soccer.
Brazil enters off a dominating 2-0 performance over Korea Republic while Spain was held to a 1-1 draw with Costa Rica, despite taking 19 shots. While both dominated offensively, that isn’t the only thing the two squads have in common.
Both teams are led by star-quality midfielders who have the hopes and dreams of their counties on their shoulders.
Marta has had the pressure since she first put on the Brazilian yellow and green at the 2003 Women’s World Cup and made an instant impact, scoring three goals and lifting Brazil to a quarterfinal appearance. Now Marta has 92 goals in 93 appearances, has won the FIFA World Player of the Year five times, has earned a silver medal at two Olympics and resembles the impact Pele had on the men’s squad.
Boquete is new to the international pressure on this stage but it’s new for the entire women’s program. The 28-year-old midfielder has 29 goals to her credit and will earn her 50th international appearance against Brazil. While Marta has the speed and showmanship that one expects from a Brazilian, Vero counters with heart and strength. In the Spanish style of soccer, the star midfielder is the conductor of the offense. Much like Andres Iniesta on the men’s squad, the impact is more than just what is seen on the match sheet at the end. Now in her 10th season as a professional, Vero has played for 11 teams and had success at all her stops.
Besides the pressure of two proud soccer traditions for their counties and being drawn in the same group, both are leaders of young teams. For Marta, she has 14 players who are appearing in their first World Cup and 18 players have less than 40 international appearances. With that inexperience and lack of chemistry it is easy to see why Marta and 30-year-old forward Cristiane have score to score for Brazil to succeed.
Boquette is paired with 15 teammates that have less than 30 caps for La Roja, but is paired with known names in Sonia Bermudez, Vicky Losada (who snagged Spain’s first-ever Women’s World Cup goal) and UEFA scoring champion Natalia Pablos in the attack. For Boquette, the goal is to find her weapons and, if need be, score.
When the two teams step onto the field at Olympic Stadium at 4 p.m. ET, Marta and Boquete will have much inexperience beside them as they sing the national anthems. At the end of the game, there will be a result. For both of them, their impact is larger than just in Montreal. Their play has provided a foundation their current team but also inspired young girls in each nation that wish to be like them.