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Women’s World Cup – Final Preview

The Matildas fell just short, but we’ve still got an intriguing final to look forward to. Will Spain or England be crowned first-time champions?

Spain vs England, Sunday 8pm (AEST)

Ah the Matildas. We dreamed that they’d be here, playing on Sunday night in the rarest of World Cup Finals on home soil. Alas, they bow out in the semi-finals with their heads held high. And if we’re completely honest with ourselves, outclassed by an England side who enter their first ever World Cup final full of confidence. While Sarina Wiegman’s side start as marginal $2.80 outsiders against Spain ($2.65), they have without doubt been the most consistent side this tournament. They’ve also been the side that’s played the best ‘tournament football’. That is, grinding out games when they have to, time wasting when they need, and ensuring that any lead is held onto. The Lionesses, who have been forced to deal with a number of injuries, are ruthlessly efficient and the gap between their best and worst is not large.

That’s unlike Spain, whose ‘best’ should surely see them lift the World Cup (also for a first time). Their worst, though, as seen earlier in the tournament when they were hammered 4-0 by Japan, could see them unravel. Especially when you consider the tense dressing room they continue to operate within. Coach Jorge Vilda remains an unpopular figure with the playing group, which is perhaps even more testament to the team itself for how deep they’ve gone this World Cup.

La Roja, like they have throughout the tournament, will play a heavy possession game in the final. And they will create plenty of chances. Aside from the Japan loss, Spain have scored two or more goals in every game this World Cup. They’ve also been far more attacking than the Lionesses. Spain have have had far more shots (143 to 81) and crosses (214 to 129) this tournament than England. The final looms as a clash between the best attacking outfit against the best defensive unit.

The location of the final is no small factor. Spain are travelling to Australia to the first time, having played all their games in New Zealand. England, meanwhile, are very much settled in Sydney and won both their quarter and semi-final at Stadium Australia, the venue for Sunday’s showpiece. The fact they overcame a partisan Aussie crowd there on Wednesday night will give them enormous confidence. The big question for Wiegman is whether young star Lauren James comes straight back into the XI. A Round of 16 red card ruled James out of the subsequent victories in the quarters and semis, after which Manchester United’s Ella Toone more than filled her shoes, and whose lashing strike saw England go 1-0 up against the Matildas. It’s a big call, but one the England manager won’t be afraid of making either way.

Bet Now Best Bet: Draw or Eng & Under 2.5 goals @ $2.15


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