Holders and pre-tournament favourites United States take on European champions the Netherlands in the 2019 Women’s World Cup final on Sunday.
Jill Ellis’ side overcame England (2-1) in a pulsating semi-final which saw Christen Press and skipper Alex Morgan score either side of Ellen White who is battling the latter to become top scorer at these finals.
Meaning the Dutch, playing a day later, needed extra-time to vanquish Sweden (1-0). Jackie Groenen, not renowned for her goalscoring, struck nine minutes into the added 30 – which coincidentally was their first goal from outside the penalty area – to set up this clash.
Read on for Squawka’s preview of the showcase match of this summer’s Women’s World Cup.
When is USA v The Netherlands?
Competition: 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup
Venue: Parc Olympique Lyonnais, Décines-Charpieu
Date: Sunday, 7 July
Kick-off: 16:00 BST
Where can I watch live?
UK residents will be able to watch the Fifa Women’s World Cup final match between USA and the Netherlands on BBC One and BBC’s iPlayer service.
This weekend’s showdown in Lyon will be the first competitive match between these nations. USA, who have been the preeminent force of the women’s game at international level, have won six of their previous eight friendly meetings. Sarina Wiegman, who guided OranjeLeeuwinnen to Euro success in 2017 and this final, played in the last Dutch victory over America but that was all the way back in 1996, since then it’s been six consecutive defeats with a 22-2 aggregate score.
#LaGrandeFinale is confirmed!
— FIFA Women's World Cup (@FIFAWWC) July 3, 2019
Both teams had to work to get here. The Netherlands’ required a very late penalty to brush Japan off in the round of 16 before a second half set-piece masterclass ended Italy’s dreams in the quarter-finals. And they were made to sweat by the Swedes, an extra-time strike by the goal shy Jackie Groenen kept their unprecedented run alive. As for the United States, a narrow 2-1 win over Spain (both goals from 12 yards) was followed two more wins by that same scoreline: v France (quarter-finals) and England (semi-final). In each of those aforementioned games, the defending world champions would net inside the opening 15 minutes and they’re expected to come out of the traps quickly again on Sunday, the Dutch have been warned.
Will fatigue cost the Dutch?
It’s hard enough facing USA when at optimal physicality but having enjoyed a day less rest on the back of playing an extra 30 minutes it’s fair to say the Dutch could be sitting ducks. Wiegman’s team are true underdogs here and knowing full well the USWNT’s strength is their stamina the opening 15 minutes will be crucial.
As touched upon, the US have, to date, registered their opening goals at this summer’s championship in the following minutes: 12, 11, 3, 7, 5 and 10. So far, no one has found the answer to repel their blistering initial attacking phase, it’s hard to see the Dutch – when you factor everything that has since transpired – being the first team.
Rose Lavelle v Sherida Spitse
What makes this US team great is the depth of quality. Ali Krieger came in for some criticism when she opined, following their comfortable 3-0 group win over Chile, they currently boast the world’s two best teams. Even though it rubbed a few people up the wrong way it’s sadly too close to the truth. Someone who didn’t play in that game, but has been a constant presence in what has been a breakout tournament, is Rose Lavelle. Playing as one of the two forward-minded central midfielders she’s tasked with joining the forwards as much as possible, against England her dribbling and fleet-footedness shone which undoubtedly will make the Dutch backline nervous.
Against an unexpectedly attacking Sweden, they were put into a number of uncomfortable positions and were resoundly second best for much of the opening 90 minutes. A far more polished team, which the US are, would have punished them. Oranje’s best player, and their most capped player, Sherida Spitse was called into action – from a defensive POV – far more often than she would have liked. The native of Sneek has no option but to nullify Lavelle’s influence if the Dutch are to stand a chance. Easier said than done, especially if the gap between their defence and midfield is as large as it was against the Swedes which made their passing game — a staple of their identity — nonexistent.
History will be made
Whatever happens on Sunday history will be created. The US, chasing a fourth star, are looking to match Germany in winning back-to-back championships. In the seven previous editions USA have finished in the top three: champions (1991, 1999 and 2015), runner-up (2011) and third (1995, 2003 and 2007).
For the Dutch, this is uncharted territory. They followed Norway, Germany and Sweden as the fourth European team to make it this far. Despite their nation’s rich footballing heritage, the Lionesses are an emerging power. Winning the last Euros, which they hosted, was a seminal moment for the women’s game.
Megan Rapinoe, who missed the England clash through injury (hamstring), should be available for selection. If she’s deemed fit then Christen Press, who came in and scored, drops out. The aforementioned Lavelle was taken off against Phil Neville’s team, after feeling her hamstring, but is expected to feature on Sunday.
As for the Dutch, they are sweating on Lieke Martens who came off at half-time against Sweden after feeling discomfort (toe), Jill Roord is waiting on the sidelines to deputise. Shanice van de Sanden, dropped in the semi-final, will be hopeful of regaining her place which she lost to Lineth Beerensteyn.
The beauty of competitive sports is that anything’s possible, more so in a scenario like this, undisputed heavyweight squares off against their plucky challenger. Everything going into this game favours USA, the strongest team in women’s football, for the Dutch to pull off their very own ‘miracle on grass’ it will be dependent on luck and tactics.
Against modest opposition plan A and B was enough. Unfortunately, they are facing a well-oiled machine and will need to dig deeper than ever before. If they can somehow survive the initial US wave of attack, it will be a minor success, but it’s hard to see them going the distance and denying America a fourth star.
USA 3-1 Netherlands