World Cup final USA – Netherlands: Key strengths, weaknesses

Mazino Dickson

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All eyes will be on Lyon, the romantic French City as defensing champions USA confront Netherlands in the FIFA Women’s World Cup final.

A combined 12 matches and 1,110 minutes of breath-taking football later, we could see the old order remain – or the dawn of a new beginning!

The United States will be featuring in their fourth final – and the real possibility of a fourth triumph on the trot.

Since that eye-catching 13-0 drubbing of a confused Thailand, the American ladies have swept all before them with brutal power, speed skill and cold-blooded goals.

More of the same?

But not so fast.

Since making their global debut in 2015…and winning the 2017 European Women’s championship, the Netherlands have been on a roll and have upended all before them in France.

The Dutch ladies have carried on with a cavalier approach that has seen many neutrals rooting for an Oranje conquest.

As the curtain falls on the mundial, how do both teams stand currently?

Strength of USA – Speed, relentless attack

The team’s sharp, fast-paced attack tends to get on the board quick, as we’ve seen consistently at France 2019.

Jill Ellis stresses to her players the importance of starting on the front foot, and it shows.

The US coach says she would have them attacking for the full 90 minutes if possible, but understands that just isn’t how the game works.

Captain Alex Morgan has stated that setting the tone in this way so early gives them confidence for the remainder of the match.

American Concerns – Injuries

Standout forward Megan Rapinoe did not play in the semi-final against England due to a hamstring strain and midfielder Rose Lavelle also came off with an injury to the same muscle.

While both are expected to be fit for the Final, will they be operating at 100 per cent? That remains to be seen.

Strength of Netherlands – Fearless

The Oranje ladies seem to fear no one and have taken down opponents with ease – the Cruyff way!

‘Once it flows, it goes’, one could say about The Netherlands at this year’s Women’s World Cup.

Players, staff and media alike have said time and time again that the tournament has yet to see the team at their scintillating best.

But we’ve definitely seen glimpses. Beautiful pass triangles between the three midfielders, flashes of speed from Shanice van de Sanden and moments of brilliance from Lieke Martens – like her wonderful back-heeled goal in the quarter-final against Italy – have shown what they’re capable of.

Dutch Weakness – Limited options

With injuries taking its toll on its  few key players, the Oranjeleeuwinnen can find themselves in a world of trouble.

Shanice van de Sanden has struggled with her form throughout the tournament, Lieke Martens is toiling with a toe injury and starting goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal walked off the pitch after beating Sweden in the semi-final on Wednesday with a swollen hand.

Whatever the case, the football world is in for a real treat of non-stop attacking football between a familiar winner and an emerging power.

Let the “GrandeFinale” begin!