The final of the ongoing FIFA Women’s World Cup is just a match away for each of the teams left in the tournament, as four teams are set to battle it out to book a place in either the final or the third-place match.
Among all the semifinalists, only Sweden and England have been at this stage of the tournament before. Sweden placed second in the 2003 edition and third in the 1991, 2011, and 2019 editions, while England have played in the last three semifinals without a win, placing third in 2015. This makes Sweden the top favourites for the title at this time, and beating Japan, who looked to be set for the trophy after offering top-notch football and solid performances right from the group stage, has cemented this belief in the hearts of fans, bookies, and enthusiasts alike.
Sweden will be looking to continue with their superb performances right from the group stage, having picked up maximum points and topped Group G. Knocking out the United States (albeit on penalties) in the knockout round was quite an achievement, and the 2-1 win over Japan was even better, much like the icing on the cake for the Swedes.
Against Japan, Amanda Ilestedt scored her fourth goal of the tournament to give the Europeans the lead in the first half, and Filippa Angeldal added to the scoreline to give the Swedes much breathing space. Japan’s Riko Ueki then managed to hit the crossbar with her penalty kick before Aoba Fujino’s impressive free kick somehow failed to get across the line. Honoka Hayashi however scored a consolation as the Swedes held on till the final whistle. A repeat performance against the Spanish, and Sweden will be booking their place in the final surely.
On the other hand, Spain qualified for their first-ever Women’s World Cup semifinal spot with an extra-time win over the Netherlands. La Roja should have won comfortably in normal time, but Esther Gonzalez missed her spotkick before half-time. Maria Caldentey would make no mistake from the spot in the eighty-first minute however, and defender Stefanie Van der Gragt would score an injury-time equalizer to take the match to extra time after almost conceding an own goal. FC Barcelona’s Salma Paralluelo then stepped up from the bench to score a glorious winner and take her team to the semifinals for the very first time.
Salma Paralluelo will surely be starting against the Swedes, although it remains to be seen if the former Ballon D’Or Feminin holder will be starting from the bench again. Sweden have no injury concerns, meaning the same team will be starting in this match.
May the best team win!