The Netherlands will try to reach its first ever Women’s World Cup final when it takes on Sweden in Wednesday’s semifinal in Lyon.
Sweden will be looking to make it to the final for only the second time, having previously lost to Germany in the 2003 Women’s World Cup.
Teams Ready for Euro 2017 Rematch
In the minds of many, Wednesday’s match will play second fiddle to the monumental clash between the United States and England on Tuesday. But while the winner of that first semifinal will be a deserving favorite in Sunday’s finale, both the Netherlands and Sweden have shown that they are worthy of a shot at a world championship.
The Dutch have had a perfect record so far in the tournament, winning all five matches they’ve played. In the knockout rounds, the Netherlands has scored a 2-1 win over Japan before blanking Italy 2-0 in the quarterfinals.
While the Netherlands may not have been a favorite heading into the World Cup, it’s not exactly shocking to see them making a deep run. The nation won the 2017 European Women’s Championship, a run that included a 2-0 quarterfinal win over Sweden and a 3-0 victory over England in the semifinals.
“I was there throughout the Euros and seeing that final, before I took over this team, that was amazing,” Swedish manager Peter Gerhardsson told reporters, speaking of the Dutch side. “The football that was played was very close to our ideal so it’s going to be an incredibly cool semifinal.”
The Netherlands are expected to have the full services of forward Lieke Martens, who played the entire match against Italy despite aggravating a toe injury vs. Japan. Martens has two goals so far in the tournament, and manager Sarina Wiegman is hopeful that she’ll be able to play at full strength – or something close to it – on Wednesday.
“She was able to play against Italy and the toe is injured but it’s not in a worse state,” Wiegman told reporters. “We all know she’s a very good player but we also have seen this tournament that our team has become stronger and we have more players that can make a difference.”
Sweden Seeks Return to World Cup Final
Sweden has also been impressive throughout the World Cup, and is coming off an upset win over Germany in the quarterfinals. The Swedish side could get a rematch against the Americans – who handed the Swedes their only loss of the tournament during the group stage – in the final, as well as earn the opportunity to bring Sweden its first World Cup win after three previous podium finishes.
But despite those high stakes, Gerhardsson is telling his team not to get caught up in the moment.
“For many of them, this match is probably the biggest game of their careers. But it’s important to let players take responsibility,” the Swedish manager said at a press conference. “Whether you’re nervous or you think it’s going to be tough, you can still take a corner kick or shoot at goal, you can still take action.”
According to FanDuel Sportsbook, the Netherlands is a -172 favorite to go through to the final over Sweden (+134). The match is expected to be a close one, however: the Dutch are only +120 to win in regulation, with Sweden listed at +240 and a draw at +220.
The USA (-130) remains the top pick to win the Women’s World Cup, ahead of England (+380), the Netherlands (+440), and Sweden (+800).