FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019: Riveting semifinal fixtures on the cards
The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup is at its business end, and the final four teams in the fray are qualitative enough to secure tickets to the finale. Have a look as we preview the semifinal matchups of the grandest event in women’s football.
Sem-final 1: England v United States
Phil Neville’s Lionesses are one of the most in-form teams in the competition, scoring two goals on an average and marching towards possibly lifting their maiden World Cup. Forward Ellen White has been clinical in front of the goal, opening the scoring of their 3-0 quarterfinal victory over Norway to seal England’s place in the semifinal. As a matter of fact, the current English unit became the first England team to reach three consecutive semifinals at major tournaments. Now between them and the final, the Lionesses need to outclass a formidable side in world champions the USA.
The USA, led by in-form midfielder Megan Rapinoe and striker Alex Morgan, outclassed hosts France in their own den to move into their eighth semi-final at the World Cup. Jill Ellis’ troop, like England, have been ruthless in their performances at the tournament, but the team will need to sharpen its defence, led by Becky Sauerbrunn, to counter the threat of the English attack. Although, knowing the potential in the ranks, the reigning champions could scrape through after a hard-fought battle.
Semi-final 2: Netherlands v Sweden
A progressive Netherlands reached their first semifinals in what is just their second World Cup campaign, after a well-deserved 2-0 win over Italy. The victory extended the Oranje’s winning streak to 11 games in a major tournament. The architects of their positive run are attackers Vivianne Miedema and Lieke Martens. Arsenal’s Miedema, just 22 years old, is the leading Dutch scorer in history with 61 goals and has three strikes in this year’s edition. Martens, on the other hand, has two goals so far and will be poised to combine forces with Miedema to ease into their maiden final.
Sweden, the underdogs at this stage, are brimming with confidence after coming from behind to beat two-time winners Germany in a major tournament for the first time since 1995. Striker Stina Blackstenius is at the forefront and will look to extend her current goal streak to three straight games, having become the first Swedish player since Lena Videkull to score in consecutive World Cup knockout appearances. While the Dutch is a formidable opponent and the favourites to win, one cannot write out a surprise act from the Blågult.
Words: William Paul