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DAVID V/S GOLIATH

After two incredible semifinals, USA and Netherlands will lock horns tonight in the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup Finale

DAVID V/S GOLIATH

As the reigning European champions Netherlands take on the reigning World champions the United States for a place in the history books, the tie looks anything but evenly matched. With one top-ranked team who brushed aside the other top teams in the tournament while the other, relatively young, had an easier route but had to work really hard to cover for their inexperience.

In a sport where South Americans and European nations are ought to dominate, the US women team has been successful in breaking this monotony in style by winning three World Cups, they face the Dutch for their fourth. Playing just their second ever world cup and their very first final, a young side with an average age of just over 25 years are hungry to get their hands on the trophy for the first time.

The United States has stormed into its third women's World Cup final in a row. After a nervy semi-final victory against England, they look all set to clinch their fourth World Cup. They have been excellent the whole tournament, lethal in attack, solid while defending and have a decent squad depth. This was on display during their semi-final clash with England. With Megan Rapinoe left out because of a hamstring injury, the US was still able to play fluid, fast and attacking football as her replacement, Christen Press put on an amazing shift, scoring the opener and contributing a ton in the defensive half. The Jill Ellis' side has been rampant in the attack, scoring 24 goals this World Cup, conceding only three. With Alex Morgan spearheading their attack and Megan Rapinoe expected to be fit for the final the tie looks done and dusted on paper but at the end of the day football is played on the pitch, not on the former.

On the other hand, we have the Oranjes, they are a passionate set of players, though not the best technically, they have made it to the finals with their supreme work rate and a knack for grinding out results on big days. Though scoring a considerably less number of goals than the US, the Dutch have a remarkable defense conceding only 3 goals this whole tournament. Not many teams will topple the United States in work rate but the distance covered statistics shows that the Oranjes have, running 656.8 km, 16 more than the Americans. This stat is a concrete fact that the Dutch will not go down without putting up a fight. A vital part of the game for them would be the opening 15-20

minutes, the US is expected to start the game on a strong note just like they did against every single opponent this

tournament. It will be extremely important for them not just to sit back but to look for counter-attack opportunities as well.

A tactical clash between Jill Ellis and Sarina Wiegman will make this final just the second one to have both teams managed by women, the first one being the 2003 World Cup final between Germany and Sweden. Teammates Alex Morgan and Rapinoe will be competing for the Golden Boot, Morgan is leading the chart finding the net six times with Rapinoe just a shy away with five. Both sides are undefeated in the tournament but only one will make out of it the same.

Psychologically the United States would know they are the favorites to lift the trophy, but at a stage like this, it is relatively easy to let the occasion get to their heads and being unable to perform up to their potential. The Dutch, on the contrary, would have the 'nothing to lose mentality' and it might end up working for them. An upset cannot be ruled out on a beautiful Sunday night in Lyon.

Gaurav Kumar

Gaurav Kumar

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