European Champions Make it to the World Cup Final; Sweden to Play England in the 3rd Place Match

5 Jul

It took nearly 100 minutes but the Netherlands have made it to their first World Cup Final. Considered the dark horse of the tournament, the Netherlands have demanded patience from their large group of traveling fans as they tend to wait until the last minute to finish out their matches. But patience is a virtue and the Oranje will meet the United States on Sunday for the final.

A quick note from Teri:

Oh Sweden. I double-jinxed you. First, I dared to speak aloud the “what if we’ve went through all the highs and lows of the tournament just so the top two teams in Group F could meet in the final” scenario. <em>Multiple times.</em> Second, I dared to leave my seat after 2+ hours of sitting to pee and the Netherlands scored at that moment. Förlåt.

It was a largely North American referring team with Canadian Marie Soleil Bourdoin as the number one and Princess Brown and Stephanie-Dale Yee Sing, both from Jamaica, taking care of the sides.

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The match started off fairly even with both Miedema and Blackstenius making early forays into the box as did Asllani and Beerensteyn. Caroline Seger had a few strong challenges and within the first fifteen minutes, the battle lines were fairly obvious. Asllani and Spitse would do battle all match long and Jakobbsen and Van Dongen were also evenly matched.

The other notable part of this match was how beat up both teams seemed. Injury after injury kept slowing down play. This has been a long tournament and fatigue was part of it but also the teams were very evenly matched so 50-50 balls led to more than a few clonked heads and folks stepping on each other. Dutch keeper Van Veenendaal had a painful injury after Jakobssen came in for the ball and accidentally stepped on her hand. Ow! Beerensteyn was injured and poor Asllani had so many injuries before the one at the end of the match that we’ll discuss later. She and van der Gragt banged heads and needed the required concussion check before the half ended. I felt banged up just watching them!

Van Veenendaal had a solid match in goal. (MyGypsySpirit commented that she is highly underrated and I tend to agree with her.) In the closing minutes of the first half, she performed a good foot save after a redirected shot from Nilla Fischer.

Nilla Fischer also got a great shot off early in the second half but it went off the crossbar after van Veenendaal pushed it up with her fingertips!

Hedvig Lindahl had her moments of greatness as well, saving Miedema’s shot by her fingertips as well.

Fan favorite and Olympic Lyonnais player Shanice van de Sanden subbed on in the 71st minute and made an immediate impact. She had a good run up the right hand side and got a corner kick for her efforts. She had a good pass in the dying minutes of the second half to van Dongen who misfired it and another shot on goal that Lindahl was able to save.

Blackstenius also had a few good attempts as the half ended but the Dutch defense held strong.

Asllani took some more heavy hits in the second half. Both van de Donk and Spitse had some heavy fouls on her, Spitse’s in particular as she made no attempt to get the ball.

Finally, finally, finally… nearly ten minutes into extra time, the Netherlands broke through and Groenen shot a clear low shot from distance that Lindahl just couldn’t get to.

Seger and Jakobsson kept fighting until the end but van Lunteren’s perfect sliding tackle kept the Dutch in the lead. Van de Sanden too tried to score but her attempt went wide.

Just as time was wearing down, Asllani went down with what looked like a very serious injury. It seemed that the Dutch, particularly Spitse did not realize the extent of the injury as she appeared to be urging the referee to continue the match. However, ref Bourdoin did an excellent job, allowing the medical staff to do their job. It took a long time for Asllani to be taken off the field. She had a neck brace on and was stretchered off and both sets of fans gave her a round of applause. At this writing, it appears that the injury is not as serious as feared. She was taken to hospital and went through both a CAT scan and an MRI and it appears that she has escaped serious injury, for which we are glad.

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I asked my fellow correspondents to weigh in on the match and mygypsyspirit echoed many of my thoughts on the match. She commented that she liked the individual skill of the Dutch players and hoped for a fully fit team against the US. She and I both agree that Shanice van de Sanden must play against the US if they expect to be competitive with them.

Teri said:

I had no favourite going into this match; I had both teams in my group assignments so it was already a win-win for me. Just like for this oblivious little one –

What I didn’t want was to see additional extra time and penalties. With one day less to rest than the USA, this could prove ruinous. Sadly we got aet and but thankfully not penalties.

As the match wore on, I was more inclined for Sweden to bag the match as I thought (and still do) it would be make for a more exciting final. The Netherlands are too slow in their tactical manoeuvring and they’re just … slow. But they keep managing to pull off victory after victory; maybe the turtle will win this race too?

Midfielder Sherida Spitse had a great match creating and impeding chances all over for the Netherlands. The whole Netherlands backline were solid which bodes well for the final. Desiree van Lunteren, in particular, dealt effectively and physically with Stina Blackstenius and Kosovare Asallani. Great for them, sad for me.

At the other end, Nilla Fischer along with Hanna Glas had the pleasure / pain of marking Vivianne Miedema and save for one error that led to the brilliant header from Miedema that Lindahl brilliantly saved, they were fantastic. They share my HB & HB Player of the Match honours.

But let’s also give it up for the goalkeepers and goalkeeper gloves!! Wow, finger tip saves by both Van Veenendaal and Lindahl kept this match exciting and driven. That’s the kind of magical goalkeeping you want to see in a semi-final, to go with the magical setting.

I’m concerned about fatigue as the Dutch have not rotated their squad much during the tournament. I am also concerned about how slow the Dutch are on scoring. Facing the US, who tend to score early, they cannot expect to wait until extra time to score. They will need to get more service to Miedema and van de Sanden. But the Dutch defenders are strong and the US defense needs work…so here’s hoping for a competitive match!

Sweden will meet England in the Third Place match on Saturday. Both are angry with their semi-final results but the Swedish defense will need to be strong against the likes of Ellen White who will want to add to her goal tally for a possible golden boot award.

Stade de Lyon, Lyon, France
Attendance 48,452
Referees: Marie Soleil Beaudoin (CAN), Princess Brown (JAM), Stephanie Dale Yee Sing (JAM), Kateryna Monzul (UKR)
Line ups:
SWE: Lindahl, Glas, Fischer, Sembrant, Eriksson (Andersson, 111’), Rubensson (Janogy, 78’), Asllani, Seger (captain), Jakobsson, Blacksteinus (Larsson, 111’), Hurtig (Zigiotti,78’)
NED: Van Veenendaal (Captain), Van Lunteren, van der Gragt, Bloodworth, van Dongen, Groenen, van de Donk, Spitse, Beerensteyn (van de Sanden, 71’), Miedema, Martens (Roord, 46’)



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