FIFA Women’s World Cup: A feisty contest of champions awaits in Lyon
It’s a battle between an impregnable heavyweight and an ambitious challenger that awaits in Lyon on Sunday as current holders USA take on European champions, the Netherlands in the final of the eighth FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Reigning champions USA, three-time winners of the competition, entered their third straight World Cup final after outclassing England with a scoreline of 2-1 in their pulsating semifinal clash. While Megan Rapinoe missed the game due to a hamstring injury, Christen Press and skipper Alex Morgan scored to maintain their nation’s push for a fourth crown. Jill Ellis’ troop will start as odds-on favourites against the Netherlands and the team are poised to become the second nation since Germany to win back-to-back titles.
The Dutch, on the other hand, needed an extra-time winner from midfielder Jackie Groenen against Sweden to seal their maiden final in only their second ever World Cup appearance. The European champions weren’t in their best form when they entered the tournament, but Sarina Wiegman’s team made it pass a difficult group E that comprised of Cameroon, Canada and New Zealand. While the fatigue of their semifinal fixture might take a toll on them, the ambitious Netherlands will look up to superstars, Lieke Martens (who was substituted after a toe injury but is expected to feature in the final) and Vivianne Miedema to orchestrate possibly the biggest upset in the ladies’ circuit of the sport.
Words: William Paul