Just short of a month ago, we gave an insight on what the World Cup has to offer and focused on some of the favourites throughout the competition. On Sunday, we will be treated to an incredible final between Spain and England. Both teams will be hoping to bring home the World Cup for the first time.
Final Preview- Spain vs England
The Lionesses will be in their first World Cup final EVER! It has been a tricky campaign for England. However, they beat co-hosts Australia which was a huge task for the lionesses. The game was tight, but England performed brilliantly to secure a 3-1 win.
England have been left heartbroken many times in the World Cup. Losing to teams like USA has become the norm in the major competition. However, with England bringing home success in the Euros they now know how to win. England may have a slightly different team to the Euro 2022 success, but the result could be the same.
We all know that the Euros was a great achievement, but the World Cup would be on another level. This World Cup is hosted on the other side of the world, and they are playing for the biggest prize in the world. England brought football home when they won the previous Euros for the first time. Can they win the World Cup and dominate Globally in Women’s football?
Spain have qualified for the first ever World Cup final at the expense of Sweden. The swedes who have now lost back-to-back World Cup semi-finals - had equalised through Rebecka Blomqvist just 93 seconds earlier and it looked like the match would be going to extra time Until a last gasp winner from by Captain Olga Carmona which sparked wild scenes of jubilation among their supporters at Eden Park, Auckland.
Spain who had only won one of their previous seven Women's World Cup matches before this tournament. They now head for the final after their fifth - and most dramatic - win in New Zealand. This historic win for Spain came just 15 days after they were beaten 4-0 by Japan in a group match. Boss Vilda said after that defeat "no-one should lose hope" and his players have responded by eliminating Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden.
Spain had come into this tournament under a cloud after 15 players had threatened to quit the team as they were unhappy with Vilda's methods, and the coach initially exiled them from the squad. Three of the 15 - Mariona Caldentey, Aitana Bonmati and former Manchester United defender Ona Batlle - were eventually included in his squad for the World Cup. Spain appears to have put those differences to one side as all three players helped their country reach the final on a memorable night for La Roja.
The Spanish will hope to bring all controversy into success, a new side which was brought onto the global stage will hope they can bring the World Cup home for the side.
The Lionesses- story so far
England had a straightforward group as they finished top. However, this does not tell the full story as they got the results without playing as we all know they can. Just winning there first games both 1-0 against Haiti and Denmark. Question marks were still on the English team as they did not perform amazing, but they still got the job done.
We finally saw the team we all expected against a lacklustre Chinese side. Winning the game 6-1 with Lauren James being the star of the show. Scoring two goals and assisting a hattrick of assists. The Sister to Chelsea captain Reece James, there was clear indication that she could be the star of the tournament.
England progress into the round of 16 where they would face an impressive Nigeria. Nigeria were huge underdogs for this game, and England at a bare minimum should of scored within 90 minutes. Nigeria was the better side and had some huge chances that were spared luckily by the lionesses.
After the 6-1 drumming the lionesses gave to China many thought the goals would be free flowing. Although, this is the World Cup and knockout games can produce anything and there has been a clear indication of that so far within this tournament. The star of the previous game Lauren James got sent off for an out of character moment where she stood on the opposition back which meant she was gave a straight red and is likely to get further punishment by the FIFA board.
England held on in extra time and hoped that they could go through via penalties. This is exactly what happened as the lionesses win on penalties and progress into the quarter finals.
A lot of questions were asked, and many believed that England have rode there luck especially within the game against Nigeria. We must give credit to the Nigerians as they approached the game with a brilliant game plan, and they nearly came away with a win against one of the tournament favourites.
The quarter final was against Columbia where again England were strong favourites, but Columbia played extremely well. England came out 2-1 winners after a slight scare by the Columbians as they scored first with a cross which looped in at the back post. England reply quickly with a huge mistake from the Columbian goalkeeper. It was all to play for in the second half and Russo scored a lovely finish to win the game and book a place into the Semi Finals.
The semi-final was without a doubt the biggest test for the lionesses, they played against Australia who are the co-hosts, and they created a real party atmosphere. However, despite this incredible atmosphere the Lionesses came out and silenced a sell-out crowd at Stadium Australia, the Lionesses became the first English side since 1966 to reach the final on the world stage
It caps a sensational two years under manager Sarina Wiegman as England, crowned European champions for the first-time last year on home soil, showed their superiority and knowledge to see off an Australia side spurred on by a nation who have been inspired by the Matildas' success.
Ella Toone gave England the lead in the first half with a superb first-time strike which sailed into the top corner.
The Lionesses controlled proceedings until the second half when Australia threw everything at them and star striker Sam Kerr - starting her first match of the tournament - struck a 25-yard stunner over goalkeeper Mary Earps' head to make it 1-1.
But England, as they so often do, found a way back into the game when Lauren Hemp pounced on a defensive error to restore their lead, before Alessia Russo made sure of victory late on.
England may of started the campaign slow but they have hit form just at the right time and they will hope they can bring the World Cup home! England are finalists once again in a major tournament!
Biggest Shocks of the Tournament.
This tournament has provided us with some incredible shocks, stories, and inspirational moments. We will write about some of the standout moments so far within this tournament.
Co hosts New Zealand will be quite disappointed to not reach the knockout rounds, but they can be proud of the countries first ever appearance in the World Cup. The fans created a brilliant atmosphere, but it was not enough for them to qualify.
The most noticeable elimination from the group stages were the former 2003 and 2007 champions Germany who had a campaign to forget. Losing to Columbia and drawing to the Korea Republic was not good enough for the Germany fans.
However, this may have not been the biggest shock of the tournament as USA were on track to be the first team in history to win three world cups in a row.
This was not to be, as they were knocked out by Sweden on penalties in the round of 16. The USA were dominant in the game but an inspired goalkeeping performance from Musovic kept the game 0-0 after 120 minutes.
This then gave the chance to the swedes to qualify into the quarter finals which is exactly what they did!
Former champions USA are hugely disappointed and the whole nation expected more. Former star Megan Rapinoe missed a penalty on her final game, a disappointing end to an incredible career.
World Cup Overview.
This has been an incredible tournament and has given women’s football a brilliant platform to push on even further. From screamers to brilliant saves and incredible assists we have witnessed some amazing football!
There have been some fantastic moments throughout the competition from heartbreak to scenes of jubilation. Attendances have been nothing short of extraordinary, Australia bringing is crowds over 80,000 people and thousands of people travelling countless hours to witness their nation play in the land down under!
It's truly been a brilliant World Cup and we wish both teams the best in the final!