It’s not the final many would have predicted but it’s the one we have and understandably, the world champions will be strong favourites. As I’ve already stated, I think the USA will retain their title, due in a large part to the extra day of rest and ability to adapt to the conditions.
Feeling the tournament
It’s going to be hot, and although the Dutch will be okay, the Americans play their season through the sweltering American summers with the likes of Alex Morgan plying her trade in Florida and Carli Lloyd having spent a late chunk of her career in Texas. Not to mention the extra time the Dutch will have to recover from with a day less rest, the team not as focused on athleticism as their opposition.
Although the Oranje are European champions, they progressed through their home tournament with tremendous support from a growing home crowd, getting better each match. This summer, the growth of the team hasn’t been there and they’ll be on the biggest stage, arriving with less than glowing performances, representing an entire continent. Even if they had wrapped their semi-final up in 90 minutes and were the team with an extra day of rest, it’s hard to see the team coming out on top under that sort of pressure.
11 vs 11
However, the match will still just be 11 vs 11 on the pitch. In starting Lineth Beerensteyn in place of Shanice van de Sanden, Sarina Wiegman has shown more flexibility than most thought she possesses, but it’s unlikely the coach will make wholesale changes. The US have also, largely, been unchanged save for a tweak or two.
Although it’s unclear how much Jill Ellis is willing to rely on Lindsay Horan, with Rose Lavelle having tweaked a hamstring, she may have no choice to start Horan in a midfield with Sam Mewis and Julie Ertz. The three in the middle of the park likely to spend all 90 minutes sparring with Sherida Spitse, Jackie Groenen and Daniëlle van de Donk.
With both coaches more than willing to repurpose attackers and midfielders into the defence, both teams should be looking forward to exploit the weaknesses that come with being played out of position. Although the Dutch defence repelled Sweden’s best efforts on Wednesday, there is a vulnerability at the back for the Oranje and the combination of Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath should be able to unlock the door.
The key to gaining the upper hand likely not to be about pressing harder and higher but staying compact and composed before unleashing a swift counter – something both teams are well capable of.
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