Final Preview: The Winner Takes It All
Going into the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, excitement was bound to happen. An expansion to 32 teams, many debuts, and loads of fan favorites built it up to be one of the best tournaments yet. With group stage goals galore, previous winners being knocked out early, and the state of football all over the world changing for the better, it has certainly lived up to the hype. This will be the first new winner crowned since 2011 along with being the first ever final to now showcase Germany or the United States. And now, it all comes down to one final matchup. Ninety minutes of pure adrenaline on the field as England and Spain take on each other to be crowned World Cup champions.
For both of these teams, this has been a long time coming, and regardless of who comes out as the champion, it is a first for them. Neither team has had the easiest route to the final, with penalty shoot-outs, last-minute goals, and of course some cards along the way but the time is finally here.
Is It Coming Home?
In order to win, England needs to come out strong. They need to be defensive but careful about fouls because Spain will not be hesitant to draw a foul. The Lionesses are riding the high of beating home nation, Australia, in the semi-final with a 3-1 scoreline. Each goal was scored by a different forward, and with the return of Lauren James, they have a very strong frontline.
One key factor for England will be to get Keira Walsh the ball. She is a player who can not only get the ball in tight spaces but has the ability to control the pace of the game. Walsh is key to the success of England and her A game will be crucial to come out of this game with a win.
Spain is known for their high press with the best possession stats in the tournament. If England can ensure that they disrupt their flow of play and utilize the counter-attack they can succeed.
Along with that, England is coming off of winning the 2022 Euros, so they have the experience, especially in a high-stakes game. Although they are missing the likes of captain Leah Williamson and Beth Mead, the team has barely faltered. With a roster that knows what it's like to be in a final on the world stage, it is essentially their game to lose.
The Case For Spain
As for Spain, they have their own set of challenges and advances ahead of them. Coming out of the group stage with a 4-0 loss to Japan, people were unsure what their play would be like moving forward but the team did not falter in the slightest, instead playing some of their best games to move further in the competition.
One thing about Spain is that they know a clutch moment when they need one. For this young team, that came in the form of Salma Paralluelo. She has been brought in late in the game during the last few matches but has been crucial, scoring in the quarter-final and semi-final. If it comes down to it, she can no doubt score a goal in the final to add to her tally. Paralluelo is the kind of player who will cause chaos if you give her the space which is why England needs to make sure that they put their best defensive foot forward.
This team also has spite on their side. While many are unsure what this win could actually mean for the coaching situation at hand for the Spanish team, there is hope that it will allow players more leverage to go against the federation. Like England, this team is missing players however they are not due to injury. Players stepped away from the team in protest against the coach, and while some returned, others like Mapí León missed out on the tournament.
For Spain, that spite will either help carry them to win against England, or it'll hurt them in the process. Either way, this final is a well-earned matchup for both sides and will for sure be a good game. The teams take the field at 6 am EST and the matchup can be watched on FOX.