The Final preview: USA v Netherlands
The Final is here - Out of an initial 24 participating nations, only 2 remain. The defending champions from the USA will play against the Euro 2017 winners from the Netherlands. Marie Schulte-Bockum previews the big one...
Prior to this summer, the Oranjevrouwen (Oranje women) had never made it to a World Cup semi-final. In fact, this is only their second World Cup.
The Dutch people fell in love with their women’s national team in the summer of 2017. The fondly named Leeuwinnen (Lionesses) won the European Championships on home ground, playing an attractive attacking brand of football.
Now, the Netherlands’ Leeuwinnen have made it all the way to the pinnacle of the game. Thanks to Jackie Groenen’s goal in extra-time against Sweden, they’re staying in France until Sunday afternoon to play the USA. Even Dutch King Willem-Alexander will travel to Lyon for the final.
Van de Donk believes the Netherlands have a key advantage
The Dutch players have been quick to share at every opportunity that they are the outsiders going into the match. After their semi-final win against Sweden, Danielle van de Donk told reporters, “I love being underdogs. It’s the best role you can be in. I don’t think the US think we’re that good. That is going to be an advantage for us.”
Van de Donk, who won the WSL with Arsenal this season, shone in the semi-final and has been the Netherlands’ most improved player of the tournament. The creative playmaker has a great eye for the final pass and she may prove crucial to breaking down the USWNT’s back-line.
Vivianne Miedema: The player to score in the final?
At the age of 22, Vivianne Miedema is already the record goal-scorer for her country, with an incredible 61 goals in 81 caps. She has scored three of those goals at this World Cup, including a crucial header against Italy in the quarter-final. The Arsenal forward is the star of her team.
Up front, Miedema links up with Barcelona’s Lieke Martens to her left side and Lyon’s Shanice van de Sanden or Bayern’s Lineth Beerensteyn to her right. The Dutch always play with an attacking trio in a 4-3-3 formation.
The USWNT firm favorites to win
Jill Ellis’ policy of unexpected lineup changes from game to game means that it’s tough to predict who will start on Sunday, apart from Alex Morgan, one of the most recognizable players in the game.
Aside from Morgan, the US coach has five absolute superstars to pick from, and they have all scored and/or assisted already in this World Cup: Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Carli Lloyd, Christen Press and Mallory Pugh.
Julie Ertz has been the secret hero. She combines tackling ability with passing accuracy and, if needed, doesn’t shy away from doing the dirty work. She has been the US’ most improved player.
So who will it be?
The US team has no real weak points to speak of. If the US score early, as they’ve managed to do in every match so far, the Netherlands will need a miracle...