Barcelona-Bound Duggan Faces New Club Teammates in Matchup with Spain

Toni Duggan (ENG) and Laura Benkarth (GER).
Caroline Charruyer

There could possibly be as many as nine FC Barcelona players on the pitch when England faces Spain in Breda on Sunday, but not all of them will be wearing red.

Toni Duggan’s decision to ditch Manchester for sunny Spain caused plenty of mainstream headlines when it was announced a few weeks ago, and the 25-year-old might get a chance to get acquainted with a few faces who will become more familiar to the striker over the coming months.

And though Spain has evolved under Jorge Vilda into some people’s dark horse for Euro 2017, so have Mark Sampson’s England, and Duggan is putting all thoughts of Barcelona to one side for now.

“That time will come,” she said. “I’m not going out there to prove a point, I’m going out there to help my team push on and win the gold medal.”

Like Sampson, Vilda had some big calls to make before the tournament, the biggest in the shape of leaving out Paris Saint-Germain’s Verónica Boquete when the squad was announced last month.

Captain Marta Torrejon, former Arsenal star Vicky Losada, plus young stars Bárbara Latorre and Alexia Putellas will soon be teammates of Duggan; Spain also possess talents such as Jennifer Hermoso, Virgina Torrecilla, and Irene Paredes.

“It’s going to be a tough game against Spain,” said Duggan. “They have some quality players but it’s irrelevant to me whether I’m playing against future colleagues. At the moment, it’s just England that matters to me.”

Against Scotland, Duggan ended a frustrating spell without a goal in a major tournament with a 93rd-minute goal of her own.

Duggan did just about everything but find the net at the World Cup two years ago, most noticeably striking the bar from range in the squad’s semifinal defeat to Japan.

After coming on for hat trick hero Jodie Taylor against Scotland, Duggan got herself off the mark in major tournaments under Sampson with quite literally the last touch of the game.

And it was a relief to the former Manchester City player. “It was a big relief to get off the mark, in the last few months, going as far back as SheBelieves, I’ve had chances but not taken them.

“I’ve hit the bar and hit the post so to get off the mark early here is good for me and my confidence.”

Sampson congratulated Duggan on her first major tournament goal under his tenure postmatch, and the striker, who turns 26 on Tuesday, was “delighted” after failing to score in the last World Cup.

“At the World Cup, I was a bit disappointed not to score because I played in some good matches.

“As a striker, I just want to score goals – that’s what most people are judged on – I also want to help the team in the best way I can.”