Ten players to watch in 2023 | UEFA Women’s Champions League
Women’s football has reached a new milestone in 2022 and a new generation of female players is on the rise to challenge the established order. Here are ten nuggets to follow in 2023.
This list is a selection from UEFA.com and is not meant to compete with the official accolades.
Mara Alber (GER, 17 years old – Hoffenheim)
After a two-year absence, UEFA youth competitions returned in 2021/22. This has allowed the next generation of Under 17 and Under 19 talent to shine. Germany resumed their dominance of EURO U17F in May after a splendid final against Spain, won on penalties in Sarajevo after a superb equalizer scored by Alber, with a magnificent shot from outside the field.
Alber, on the right side of the offense, has impressed throughout the tournament with his creativity. She was never afraid to go one-on-one with her opponents, and she continued that momentum at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in India, where she was named the competition’s third best player as Germany reached the semifinals. A regular starter for Hoffenheim’s reserve in the 2. Bundesliga, Alber also made his first-team debut in late April against Bayer Leverkusen.
Nicole Arcangeli (ITA, 19 – Juventus)
Arcangeli finished top scorer in the U19 EURO final in the Czech Republic, joining Melvine Malard, Patri Guijarro, Marie-Antoinette Katoto, Stina Blackstenius or Vivianne Miedema. Her five goals showed the extent of her talent and earned her promotion to the Juve first team, where she made two appearances last season.
Compared to Arianna Fabbri’s clubmate Barabara Bonansea from Riccione, where Arcangeli trained before joining Juve in 2019, the striker is difficult to face in a duel and can play on one side.
Serina Backmark (SVE, 19 – AIK)
Backmark conceded just two goals in four games as Sweden qualified for the semi-finals of the U19 EURO, and saved a penalty in the 2-0 win over Germany which sealed their qualification in the Czech Republic. In all, last season he kept five clean sheets in nine appearances for the Sweden U19s and was a part of the U23 squad.
Esmee Brugts (NED, 19 – PSV Eindhoven)
The left-footed forward, who was a U17 EURO finalist with the Netherlands in 2019, became a regular the following year with PSV. She earned her first senior international cap in February against France and in April she scored her first goal in a FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifier against Cyprus. At the Women’s EURO, Brugts came on as a substitute (three appearances).
Brugts’ injury-time goal in the decisive World Cup qualifier against Iceland for a 1–0 win saw the Netherlands avoid the play-offs and secure a place for the finals. Starting with his last two friendlies against Norway and Costa Rica, scoring in the second game when he was placed in an unusual left-back role, Brugts looks set to play a big role under new national team manager Andries Joncker.
Laurina Fazer (FRA, 19 years old – Paris Saint-Germain)
The midfielder, who scored an outstanding goal in the Women’s Champions League in December 2021 against WFC Kharkiv, in her first game in the competition, she later confirmed. Versatile and skilful, Fazer was voted the best young player in last season’s Women’s D1 and captained her country to the quarter-finals of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
Called up to France A in October, Fazer suffered a broken hand just days later which prevented her breakthrough in the Paris squad, but returned to the starting XI for a Champions League win at Vllaznia in December.
Gaupset sign (NOR, 17 – Brann)
After playing his first games for Sandviken at the end of 2021, the midfielder became a regular, while this year the club changed its name to Brann. He remains on a double domestic. In the Norwegian Cup final, Gaupset scored twice in a 3-1 win over Stabæk.
At EURO U17, he scored six goals in three second round appearances, as well as Norway’s only goal in May’s finals in Bosnia and Herzegovina, against Finland. Lui then put on impressive performances in the first round of the following edition in October.
vicky López (ESP, 16 – Barcelona)
Spain’s generation of Under-17 and Under-20 FIFA World Cup and Under-19 EURO winners has an incredible array of up-and-coming talent, but few speak louder than Vicky. Prolific at youth level for Madrid CFF, she became the youngest player to play in the Spanish top flight aged 15 years and 2 months in September 2021, and was superb in the Spain U17 season in Bosnia and Herzegovina on the left attack, able to operate as an attacking midfielder.
Barcelona signed her from Madrid in July for her 16th birthday. Although she is spending this season mainly with the reserves, she played in the first team against Granadilla Tererife in September and also moved to Real Madrid in November. Meanwhile, her Vicky went to the World Cup in India and was named Player of the Tournament as Spain retained their title.
Nina Matejić (SRB, 17 – Red Star)
Matejić’s reputation began to spread beyond Serbia when the 16-year-old started a World Cup qualifier with Serbia in Germany aged 16 and scored after three minutes. After playing with the boys until the age of 14, she quickly rose to the Serbian women’s D1 and scored 39 goals in 2020/21 for Požarevac, earning Matejić a call-up to the national A side. He has also scored away against Portugal the month after the match against Germany.
Last summer she moved from Sloga Zemun to the increasingly ambitious team of Crvena zvezda (Red Star Belgrade). A hard worker and skilled in front of goal, she was a goalscorer for the Belgrade club this autumn. She was also the top scorer in the U19 EURO first qualifying round with seven goals in three games, as Serbia won their group ahead of Italy, Hungary and Wales, while continuing to make the 2 squad.
Ana Milović (SVN, 21 – Olimpija Ljubljana)
He only turned 21 in July, but Milović has already surpassed 200 senior international goals for Olimpija in less than 100 appearances. He was already Slovenia’s top scorer twice in 2021/22, with 66 goals in 19 appearances, breaking the 15-year record held by Mateja Zver. He started the 2022/23 season at a similar pace, with 38 goals in 11 appearances. His total for the 2022 calendar year is 62.
She is also a regular in an improving Slovenia A team who are one game away from qualifying for the 2023 World Cup. It would not be surprising to see Milović follow in the footsteps of his international team-mate, Zver.
Katie Robinson (ENG, 20 – Brighton & Hove Albion)
Young talents such as Alessia Russo, Lauren Hemp and Ella Toone were instrumental in England’s EURO 2022 success, but more are on the way, including winger Robinson who shone at U17 EURO 2019 before starting in the Serie A against Norway last November.
Robinson established herself at Bristol City before joining Brighton in 2020, recovering from an ACL injury. She was loaned out in 2022 to Charlton Athletic before returning to the Seagulls this autumn. Her pace and ability to take out make her a player to watch.
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