The quarterfinal stages were a pulsating set of fixtures, but now we finally have the final four women’s teams. The reigning champions remain in the mix, while there is an interesting clash between Sweden and the Netherlands to look forward to. One thing is for sure, there is going to be more dazzling goals and skills at this stage, but there will also be tears for the losers as they will fall just short of their World Cup ambition.
England vs USA
Fans’ should be sure not to miss the start of this game. Both teams have a habit of starting quickly. The United States has taken the lead in all five of their fixtures; including goals inside the first ten minutes. Meanwhile, England showcased all their early goal capabilities by breaking a World Cup record for the Lionesses in the last round as they scored their earliest ever World Cup goal. In total, four of the eleven goals scored by England have come in the opening 15 minutes. The only game that England hasn’t scored in the first half was in their 1-0 win over Argentina.
The Lionesses have a strong attack down the right-hand side with the near-telepathic bond between Lucy Bronze and Nikita Parris. While in Ellen White; England have one of the best strikers in world football. Phil Neville has consistently compared her to natural strikers such as Ruud van Nistelrooy and Alan Shearer.
However, the USA have their own star striker is Megan Rapinoe. She has scored five goals and contributed three assists to the team so far, and England’s qualification hopes will hinge on whether they can keep her out of the game. The United States are still suspect defensively which offers England hope, while the Lionesses have the tendency to overplay and this got them into trouble throughout their fixture against Norway. In that quarterfinal clash, however, Norway didn’t pose the quality to take advantage of these mistakes. But, the USA do.
This should be a classic World Cup fixture between two giants of the game, and it could the night that England finally get to a World Cup final.
Sweden vs Netherlands
The Swedes had been discounted by most due to their troubles in the group stage, however, their tactic of resting their entire line-up against the USA to move into the bottom half of the draw could have been a masterstroke of an idea. They have avoided the likes of England, USA and France to reach this stage and are now only one big win away from the final.
They have grown in confidence as the competition has progressed and their win over Germany in the last round was a monumental success. Their defensive unit is the best in the competition, while in Hedvig Lindahl they have one of the best goalkeepers in the competition. The quick transition from defence to attack is something to behold and caused no end of problems for the German’s.
The Dutch scored two headers in their win over Italy and their aerial game is something that has flattened most of their opponents; with five of their eleven goals coming from headers. However, against Sweden’s strong defence this could be a crucial area that decides the winners of this tie.
Sweden’s defence makes this an enticing match-up. If they are able to stifle the Dutch forward three as they did against Germany, then it could be a famous evening for Sweden. Few would argue against the proof that they have the ability to do just that.