#World-class skills

Salma Paralluelo: Raider of the final third

FIFA, 27 Mar 2024


For the sixth article in our world-class skills series, we take a closer look at a new arrival on the world stage. Salma Paralluelo, the Spanish sensation who won the tournament’s Best Young Player Award in Spain’s triumphant FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ campaign, is a versatile youngster who thrills fans and torments opponents with her dazzling runs, laser-guided crosses and composed finishing.

Paralluelo enjoys nothing more than running at opponents, committing them where it hurts the most – at the business end of the pitch. She is already known for her bursts down the channel, getting in behind defences to whip in crosses for team-mates to attack, as well as for her ability to glide inside before driving into the penalty area. The following clips illustrate the raw power and technical grace of Spain’s raider of the final third.

Key insights

As play approaches the opposition’s goal, Paralluelo springs into life on the wing, preparing herself to take on opponents whilst looking for opportunities to breach the defensive line. Her decisive and direct mindset is supported by her physical power and a raft of outstanding footballing attributes; an agile speedster with graceful technique who plays with tactical flexibility and ruthless efficiency.

The jet-heeled attacker is adept at stretching defences, forcing defenders to scramble back and cover the goal area as she looks to get in behind. She excels at moving the ball forward quickly and whipping in pacey crosses that invite team-mates to attack the ball. Her signature move, however, is most tantalising as she drives infield, leaving opponents trailing in her wake whilst offering up just enough of the ball to draw the next challenge, only to then glide past her opponent and slice through the defensive line with her dazzling feet and intricate technique.

Clinical in front of goal, Paralluelo brings a spark and cutting –edge individual brilliance to Spain’s possession game. Last year, her awareness of space, rapid decision-making and ability to dismantle defences with a confidence and composure belying her tender years all enabled her to shine on the women’s game’s greatest stage.

Give-and-go in behind

Our first video is the perfect example of the Spanish starlet’s footballing attributes, offering a glimpse of how she blends her raw power with elegant technique into a dynamic game-changing style of play. We pick up the action, which comes from Spain’s group-stage encounter against Costa Rica at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, with La Roja regaining possession in the final third. Paralluelo (number 18) is lurking near the corner of the penalty area, ready and waiting to receive the ball and poised to attack the defensive line.

Creating something out of nothing, slicing through the final third

Our second video looks at Paralluelo’s instinct to commit opponents in the final third. This clip, also taken from the group-stage meeting with Costa Rica, is the perfect example of her direct running, showing how she looks to take the game by the throat high up the pitch and attack the opposition, almost at will. The footage begins with Paralluelo bearing down on the penalty area from the left wing, ready to challenge Costa Rica’s María Cota for the ball.

A simple solution with ruthless execution (shift the ball forward and bend it in behind)

Our next example, which is taken from Spain’s round-of-16 tussle against Switzerland, illustrates another reoccurring theme of Paralluelo’s dynamic final-third exploits: her wonderful crosses curved in behind retreating defenders. It also gives us some insight into her ability to think quickly to breach defensive lines. On this occasion, a simple solution is ruthlessly executed. We join the action as Paralluelo receives the ball close to the left touchline, five metres short of the Swiss penalty area.

From inside her own half to in off the post

Our final clip, which is taken from Spain’s FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ quarter-final clash against the Netherlands, showcases the young Barcelona star’s emerging world-class talent in its entirety while highlighting the cutting edge she brings to La Roja’s perfect passing game. It is also a great example of Paralluelo’s maturity beyond her tender years, showing a young player using all available information to produce a moment of brilliance worthy of the stage. We join the action in extra time as the ball is played long towards the halfway line, with Paralluelo already on the move and ready to react to the next phase of play.


A real livewire on the flank, Paralluelo is never one to miss out on an opportunity to attack. With her blend of raw power, an agile mind and magical skills, she has an innate instinct to penetrate the final third and breach opposition defensive lines. Already a player for the big moments, her world-class individual skills add fearsome bite to Spain’s possession-based collectivity. Unpredictable by nature, she is in her element when making darting runs down the channel or whipping the ball in early, with pace, across the goal area. A true crowd-pleaser and a nightmare for opposition defenders, Paralluelo is already making a name for herself with her ability to tease opponents down the flank before bending a cross in behind retreating defenders for her team-mates to attack, as well as for her propensity to glide infield and dance through the central space with balletic feet to create shots on goal.

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