England will play Spain in the finals of the 2023 Women’s World Cup following their 3-1 victory over Australia Wednesday.
Both The Lionesses and La Roja will compete for their first-ever World Cup title, both riding a wave of momentum after unexpected stars rose to the occasion and cashed their tickets to championship match.
Ahead of Sunday’s monumental showdown between two teams looking to etch their names in the history books for the very first time, find out where and when you can check out the action, and which storylines to pay attention to, with this preview of the finale.There were any number of moments in this World Cup when England could have folded, given up and tried again in four years, starting with pre-tournament injuries that left forwards Beth Mead and Fran Kirby, as well as defender Leah Williamson, unable to compete.
Then, there was the red card dealt to Lauren James in the Round of 16 after she stepped on the back of Nigeria’s Michelle Alozie. Already banned from the quarterfinals as a result, she received a second game suspension from FIFA that would keep her out of the semis.
Faced with uncertainty, head coach Sarina Wiegman remained focused and confident in her team and its depth to get where they wanted to go.
It worked out, with players stepping up in big moments and fueling The Lionesses to the World Cup Finals.
Alessia Russo shined against both Colombia and Australia while Ella Toone scored in place of James against the latter co-host team. Lauren Hemp and Chloe Kelly contributed on the way to Sunday’s championship clash with Spain, too.
Much like La Roja, England is competing for its first World Cup and will have the support of a passionate country behind them. They will also have their leading scorer James (three goals, three assists) back for the game, which bodes well for a team that has thrived even without her.
Will it be enough to take down a Spanish squad that, at times, has looked like the best on the pitch? Possibly, especially if Wiegman can devise a defense that takes away the middle of the offense. It has been a problem for La Roja more than once, with Sweden proving you can shut the team down if you shut the midfield down.
If England and its strong defensive unit led by Millie Bright can stunt the offense of its opponent, a World Cup awaits.Salma Paralluelo may be a revelation to some thanks to he big game prowess, but she has been winning championships her entire career.
In 2018, she captured the Under-17 World Cup and Under-17 European Championship. Four years later, she earned an Under-20 World Cup.
Now, at just 19 years of age, she is one win away from winning her country’s first Women’s World Cup.
She is not just happy to be along for the ride, either. Paralluelo has scored what may be the two most significant goals in the history of women’s soccer in Spain and should she add to them in Sunday’s game, she would almost certainly achieve hero status.
And rightfully so.
In just La Roja’s third tournament appearance, the team is vying for the most coveted prize in international football and her contributions have been key.
Who knows if the team advances past the Netherlands if she does not come up huge with that extra minutes score? Does the team head to another sudden death situation if she does not break scoring open against Sweden or, worse, does the opponent win outright?A previously unknown player whose primary focus was preparing to run track in the Olympics, she is now anything but an unproven commodity.
All eyes will be on Paralluelo Sunday, with Spain’s most passionate fans hoping she has one more, perfectly timed goal in her to catapult the team into the history books and give women’s soccer in Spain its defining moments on the international stage.
England to lift the cup -105
Spain -0.5 (+160), England +0.5 (-210)
Over/Under: 1.5 goals (Over -200, Under +150)
90-minute money line: Spain +175, England +190, Draw +195
To lift the trophy: England -105, Spain -120
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