This is it! Sarina Weigman and her Lionesses have the chance to be recognised as the best footballing nation on the planet this Saturday when they meet Jorge Vilda’s Spain in the World Cup Final. Having brushed aside host nation Australia in the semi-final, England now meet La Roja in Sydney, a team who has crushed Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden in the knockout stages of the tournament. For the first time in the competition England will not be the favourites for the clash priced at 9/5 to win inside 90 minutes.
I am feeling the pressure after landing 15/2 and 7/2 bets in the quarter-final and landing an 11/2 winner in the semi-final articles. I also managed to correctly call England beating Germany in the Euro’s Final in extra-time at 10/1 so I am praying my luck with the lady’s hasn’t run out just yet and my hunches stand me in good stead again this weekend.
It’s been an enthralling World Cup down under and despite numerous big name absentees in England’s squad through injuries the Lionesses have hunted in the same fashion they did in the Euro’s. Credit has to go to manager Sarina Weigman who has reached a final in all four major tournaments that she has been an international manager with the Netherlands and England, that’s astonishing. The first decision, and it is a big one for Weigman to have to make is whether to bring Lauren James back into the starting line-up. Before her suspension for the stamp on Nigeria’s Michelle Alozie there is no doubt that Lauren James had been our player of the tournament with three goals and three assists. In her absence Kiera Walsh has slotted in with ease and has started both of the last two games. I expect that James will be put straight back into the team with Kiera Walsh dropping out, despite having done a fantastic job in the quarter-final and semi-final. The Lionesses have the chance to make it back-to-back tournament successes and also win the World Cup for the first time and go down as one of the greatest teams in history.
We have to also give credit to our opponents, as much as England have had their troubles, it’s not a patch on some of the issues Spain have had to deal with in the buildup to this final. Before the tournament there was a huge amount of unrest within the squad with 15 senior players ruling themselves out of selection under the management of Jorge Vilda. Thankfully for Vilda some of those players did decide to accept international call ups and he has been able to put together a squad that boasts a wealth of talent. With a host of big names in the side such as Barcelona teammates Patellas, Paredes and Bonmati as well as their former club teammate Jennifer Hermoso who is the country’s leading all-time scorer. Another player to keep an eye on is Spain’s joint top scorer in this World Cup campaign is Alba Redondo with three goals (tied with Hermoso and Bonmati). By Putellas standards she is having a quiet tournament, the current Ballon d’Or holder and the only person to have won it twice in consecutive seasons has yet to score but has still been a key component to Spain’s journey.
This will undoubtedly be England’s toughest test yet and if we are to win it will come down to winning individual battles and being clinical when opportunities arise. Spain as mentioned are the favourites but if England play like we know they can I fully believe they can more than match them. We have already come through a hostile test when facing Australia last time-out and that for me is the perfect preparation for such a huge occasion. We are the team that come into this game with the most pressure having won the Euro’s and Spain having never won a major trophy. We need to embrace that pressure and show why we have never lost a competitive game under Sarina Weigman. This is the furthest our opponents have ever come in a major tournament after finishing in third place in the 1997 Euro’s. They will be fired up and hoping to bring back a first trophy for their adoring fans, it remains to be seen how they will handle such pressure but they did a sterling job in the semi-final against Sweden so expect this to be a battle of two titans. Whatever happens both nations have done their countries proud.
- England are ranked fourth in the FIFA women’s world rankings.
- Spain are ranked sixth in the FIFA women’s world rankings.
- England knocked Spain out of the Euro’s after extra-time in the quarter-final, eventually winning 2-1 with goals from Ella Toone and Georgia Stanway.
- Head-to-head record England 6 wins, Spain 2 wins, 3 draws.
Well I am going to stick to the formula that has brought me success for the last two games and that is to go with an England win and both teams to score at 13/2 with William Hill.
I landed a correct score bet in the England Colombia game where I called the outcome to be a 2-1 England win at 15/2, with that in mind I will go for another correct score and I will go for a 2-1 England win at 10/1 with Bet365.
And for a final prediction I will have a punt on Lauren James to either score or assist during the game at 12/5 with Paddy Power. James will have a point to prove after missing the last two games through suspension and already has three goals and three assists in three appearances in just 287 minutes played.