When did Barcelona star Alexia Putellas return from her ACL injury and will she play at the 2023 Women's World Cup?
Alexia Putellas is one of the best footballers in the world.
The Barcelona star has won seven league titles, eight Copas de la Reina, two Supercopas de Espana and a Champions League title.
That team success has also translated into individual success, with Putellas boasting two Ballons d'Or, two of the Best FIFA Women's Player awards, two UEFA Women's Player of the Year accolades and much, much more.
However, the midfielder suffered a devastating injury that not only ruled her out of Spain's Euro 2022 campaign, but almost the entire 2022-23 season.
When did Putellas return from injury? Will she play at the 2023 Women's World Cup? GOAL has all the details you need.
When did Alexia Putellas suffer her ACL injury?
Putellas suffered a devastating anterior cruciate ligament tear on her left knee on July 5, the day before the 2022 Women's Euros began.
She watched Spain's first game of the tournament, a 4-1 win over Finland, then returned to Barcelona to have a knee operation on July 12.
The midfielder had just had another exceptional season with her club and was expected to be one of the stars of the tournament, making the injury all the more cruel. Her country successfully navigated the 'group of death' and led hosts England in their quarter-final clash, but eventually lost in extra time.
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What big games did Alexia Putellas miss with injury?
Date Game missed Significance July 20, 2022 England 2-1 (AET) Spain Euro 2022 quarter-final November 6, 2022 Real Madrid 0-4 Barcelona El Clasico December 7, 2022 Bayern Munich 3-1 Barcelona Barca's first defeat of the season January 19, 2023 Barcelona 3-1 (AET) Real Madrid Supercopa de Espana semi-final January 22, 2023 Real Sociedad 0-3 Barcelona Supercopa de Espana final March 21, 2023 Roma 0-1 Barcelona Champions League quarter-final March 25, 2023 Barcelona 1-0 Real Madrid El Clasico March 29, 2023 Barcelona 5-1 Roma Champions League quarter-final April 22, 2023 Chelsea 0-1 Barcelona Champions League semi-final
After missing Spain's Euro 2022 campaign, the list of significant Barcelona games Putellas has missed this season is unsurprisingly long given the Catalans' have one of the best women's teams in the world.
The two Clasicos in the domestic league have come and gone, with Barca getting the better of Real Madrid on both occasions. They also beat Las Blancas in the Supercopa de Espana semi-finals in January before going on to win the trophy, seeing off Real Sociedad in the final.
Then there is the Champions League, a competition Putellas performed so well in last term that she was named its Player of the Season despite Barca losing to Lyon in the final.
So far, Jonatan Giraldez's team have performed well in Europe, reaching the final after overcoming Chelsea in the last four. They did, however, suffer their only defeat of the season so far (on the pitch) in the UWCL when Bayern Munich shocked and impressed many with a 3-1 group stage win in December.
There is another defeat marked on Barca's card this season, a 1-0 loss to Osasuna in the Copa de la Reina. However, that was a result awarded to the lower division outfit after their opponents fielded an ineligible player in a 9-0 victory.
When did Alexia Putellas return from injury?
Putellas returned to the pitch on Sunday, April 30, the same day that Barcelona claimed their fourth successive league title.
She replaced Claudia Pina with 74 minutes on the clock as the Catalans beat Sporting Huelva 3-0, with goals from Laia Codina, Jana Fernandez and Asisat Oshoala.
That came three days after Putellas was in the Barcelona squad to face Chelsea in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final. It was the first time she was involved in a matchday squad since playing in a friendly for Spain on July 1, 2022.
How has Barcelona’s season gone without Alexia Putellas?
This season, Barca have won the Supercopa, another league title and are in the Champions League final, a competition which they are also the favourites to triumph in. The cherry on the cake is that the Catalans have also won all three of their clashes with rivals Real Madrid.
The one blemish on the team's record for the 2022-23 campaign so far is the Copa de la Reina, a trophy Barca will not retain after being removed from the competition for fielding an ineligible player in their round of 16 clash with Osasuna.
Giraldez's side beat their opponents 9-0 on the day but they did so with Geyse Ferreira on the pitch. The Brazilian was sent off while playing for Madrid CFF in last season's competition and should have served her suspension with her new club, but didn't. Instead, Osasuna were awarded a 1-0 win and progression to the quarter-finals.
While the team has been winning on the pitch, Putellas was also victorious on the sidelines while she recovered from her injury.
The midfielder missed Euro 2022 but she still thrived throughout the season that preceded it, meaning that, in the months since, she has collected a number of individual accolades given for the 2021-22 season.
Most notable are the Ballon d'Or, the Best FIFA Women's Player award and the UEFA Women's Player of the Year award.
Will Alexia Putellas play at the 2023 Women’s World Cup?
Now that Putellas has returned to the pitch, will she play at this summer's Women's World Cup?
The midfielder is Spain's most capped player ever on the women's side, reaching a century of appearances in the days before her ACL injury.
However, Spain's women's national team is currently in an incredible situation, with 15 star names making themselves unavailable for selection for their country. Those include many of Putellas' Barcelona team-mates, such as Aitana Bonmati, Mapi Leon and Patri Guijarro.
The players each shared a statement in September 2022 which read: "We requested in our communication sent to the RFEF (Royal Spanish Football Federation) not to be summoned until situations that affect our emotional and personal state, our performance and, consequently, the results of the Selection and that could lead to undesirable injuries are reversed."
Despite being in the early stages of her recovery at this time and therefore unavailable for selection because of injury, Putellas supported her team-mates by also sharing this statement.
None of those who withdrew from selection have been called up for Spain in the months since. There are discussions taking place between the federation and the players but nothing has been resolved as of yet.
If there are changes ahead of the World Cup, it would likely result in a serious overhaul of the squad as April was the last international window before each nation will come together with its final squad to do its final preparations for the tournament.
Asked earlier this year about whether she could return to the national team for the World Cup, Putellas said: “There have been some discussions, as has already been said. Could I go back or not? I don’t know. I’m injured now anyway, so we’ll see."
Head coach Jorge Vilda will name Spain's preparation squad for the World Cup on June 12, with the final list of 23 to be revealed then on June 30. The first game of the tournament takes place on July 20, with La Roja's opener coming against Costa Rica on the following day.