USA vs. Netherlands
The big day is finally here! The United States will play the Netherlands in the final of the 2019 Women’s World Cup on Sunday. The reigning World and European champions square off in Lyon on Sunday in what promises to be a thrilling encounter. There couldn’t be any more contrast in the pedigree of these teams going into this match with the USWNT making their third consecutive appearance in the final (winning the last one after losing the last one to Japan) and the Netherlands making only their first and in the process becoming the eighth different country to play in a final and the fourth European nation.
United States have again shown why they are considered the best women’s football team on the planet and are expected to retain their world title by defeating the Netherlands; having won their last eleven matches in a row at the women’s world cup, it is difficult not to see why. It has not all been absolute plain sailing for the Americans at this World Cup. After an opening 13-0 trouncing of Thailand and comfortable group wins over Chile and Sweden, they have had to dig deep to get past Spain, France and England during the knockout stages. Megan Rapinoe missed the semi-final win over England due to a hamstring injury. The 33-year-old may come back into the starting line-up and even if she doesn’t make it, the USWNT have plenty of firepower and squad depth to triumph in this clash. Jill Ellis otherwise has no injury concerns.
The Netherlands will be delighted to be at this stage having come through some tough matches along the way, not least the hard-fought win over Sweden in the semifinal. But the Netherlands are not just there to make up the numbers. The semifinal victory over Sweden was the 12th match in a row the team has won at a major tournament, after claiming the European Championship in 2017. The Netherlands have maintained their upward trajectory of the last few years, the European champions only having made their debut at World Cup tournament in 2015, reaching the round-of-16, but now in the final. Their confidence is sky high with an exciting young team headed by Arsenal trio Vivianne Miedema, Danielle van de Donk and influential goalkeeper/captain Sari van Veenendaal who must be at her best to keep out the tournament’s best attacking line.
This tournament has been a fantastic showcase of women’s soccer and whichever team wins on Sunday, the tournament must be considered a success. The standard of play on the pitch has been high and off it, the Women’s World Cup has had unprecedented interest despite being held concurrently with other major regional men’s competitions in South America and Africa. It is something of note that the final will be the first since 2003 with two female head coaches (Sarina Wiegman and Jill Ellis) at the helm, which perhaps also indicates the growing strength of female coaches. We can only hope for bigger things for women’s football after France 2019.
Photo Credit : thesportsgeek.com