Spain’s Laia Aleixandri: ‘We’re seeing how best to hurt England’

Midfielder who likes to paint made her age-group debut against England and is ready for the step up to the Euro 2022 quarter-final“It was here,” Laia Aleixandri says. “Right here.” The Spain midfielder stands on the grass, boats floating gently by on the Thames, St George’s cross fluttering from the roof of the 13th-century manor house across the lawn, and smiles. It is the perfect place to paint and, a lover of art, Aleixandri has brought her canvases with her, an escape from it all. It is also the perfect place to play and, it turns out, where it all began. “On this actual pitch,” she says.It was a revelation to her, too. The last time England hosted a European Championship, they were based at Bisham Abbey, just as they had been when they won the 1966 World Cup. The traditional home of the national team, this time it is their quarter-final opponents Spain who are there. Aleixandri, 22 next month, did not know its history, and did not remember that it was part of her own history too, the field where she played her first game for Spain – until things fell into place a fortnight ago.

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