The United States are now just one victory away from successfully defending the Women’s World Cup and it is the Netherlands who stand in their way in the final in the Parc Olympique Lyonnais (11am ET Sunday, live on FOX).
After comfortably topping their group without conceding a single goal, USA Women have found the knockout rounds to be much more of a challenge. Three consecutive 2-1 wins have seen them past Spain, hosts France and, on Tuesday, England.
The matches against France and England could easily have turned out differently. The US were actually outshot (27 to 20) over the two of them combined. In both encounters chance quality models suggested that there was very little between the sides. Whether you therefore consider the wins testaments to fortitude or fortune depends on your worldview.
The USWNT could certainly have at least been taken to extra-time by England. Headed goals from Christen Press (in for the hamstrung Megan Rapinoe) and Alex Morgan saw them go in 2-1 up at the interval. England were then awarded a penalty towards the end of the second half when Becky Sauerbrunn stumbled into an England forward inside the area. Fortunately, Alyssa Neaher guessed right and saved the resulting, somewhat scuffed, spot kick.
So Team USA progressed to their third consecutive Women’s World Cup final and their fifth overall in the eight runnings of the competition first held (and won by America) in 1991. They now have the opportunity to become the second back-to-back winners after Germany in 2003 and 2007. “We’ve put so much into this journey together,” Morgan said in the post-match press conference. “Now we have one more game to close it out.”
The U.S. probably have the strongest starting XI in the tournament and undoubtedly the deepest squad. Coach Jill Ellis has been able to move Lindsey Horan, arguably one of the best midfielders in the world, in and out of the side. She had Press come in for Rapinoe, the two-goal hero against France, and score against England. “I have multiple starters in multiple positions,” Ellis admitted after Tuesday’s win.
On paper, at least, the final should be easier for the United States than either of the last two rounds. Their path to potential glory seemed set to see them face the other three members of the top four in FIFA’s world rankings. However after triumphs over fourth-ranked France and third-ranked England, it is not second-ranked Germany that await in the final, but instead eighth-ranked Netherlands.
Not that the Netherlands should be discounted. It is true that they don’t have an impressive history in the women’s game. They didn’t qualify for a single World Cup, Olympics or European Championship until 2009, and only made their World Cup debut in Canada four years ago in a round-of-16 exit. In the four years since, they have won Euro 2017 on home soil, jumped four places in the FIFA rankings and are now in a World Cup final.
Sarina Wiegman’s side advanced with a 1-0 victory over Sweden in a cautious match of few chances. Both teams struck the woodwork from set pieces but neither of them were able to create all that much in open play. The match went to extra time, where Netherlands finally made the breakthrough. A neatly worked move was finished off by an accurate strike from outside the area by Jackie Groenen. They held on thereafter to make it through to the final.
The Netherlands have been sturdy in defence throughout the tournament, conceding just three times in six matches. They have some good forward-thinking players, including prolific striker Vivianne Miedema, who scored in all three of their knockout matches en route to winning Euro 2017. Then there is Lieke Martens and the slick-passing midfielder Sherida Spitse, provider of four assists so far.
Our Preview’s USWNT vs. Netherlands Women Picks & Betting Predictions Verdict
If the United States were capable of seeing off England and hosts France, there is little reason to think they won’t also be able to defeat the Netherlands and so hold onto the trophy they won in Canada four years ago. The margin of victory is unlikely to great, but it is the US who can be expected to emerge victorious from Sunday’s final.
Those wanting a wager with the best American online betting sites could do worse than following these USA vs Netherlands predictions:
- On their ‘correct score’ option, bet on United States Women to win 1-0 @ +500 and also U.S. to win 2-1 @ +700, both with Bovada.