For one last time this summer, my predictions for the last two matches.
England vs Sweden
It’s been a long hot tournament for both but the extra half hour and day less to recover after their semi-final will be the tipping point for Sweden. With little to gain or lose, Peter Gerhardsson may even opt to field a second XI rather than his favoured starters to prevent any injuries whilst giving the peripherals a chance to shine.
A manager who hasn’t been afraid to rotate, it’s hard to know which way Phil Neville will bend in Nice, both teams having had a taste of the extreme heat on the French riviera. Having scooped bronze four years ago, it seems most likely that England will repeat the feat again this week although I highly doubt they’ll need extra time to do so.
USA vs Netherlands
Much like Sweden, the Dutch have been hampered by the schedule, their 3pm quarter-final kick off in the sweltering Valenciennes summer still something felt in the legs of the players when they took to the pitch in Lyon for their semi-final. Unable to find a winner inside of 90 minutes, the extra 30 was the worst possible outcome [for either team]. It’s highly unlikely that the team who base their game on the technical rather than the athletic or physical will be able to deal with the highly conditioned USA team who will have had an extra day to prepare.
Additionally, the European champions have failed to kick into gear this summer and find their irresistible form from 2017, the final somewhat of a mismatch. The Americans haven’t been first-rate this summer but they’ve done enough, despite the scares against European opposition and will be able to overrun the exhausted Oranje.
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