English vs. Spain in the women's world cup final in 2023: everything you need to know

BBC || Shining BD

Published: 8/20/2023 5:35:25 AM

When England and Spain face off in the Women's World Cup final in Sydney on Sunday, the European champions will have the chance to make history for the second time in a little more than a year.

The Lionesses will try to win the championship for the first time and make history by becoming the first England team since 1966 to triumph in a senior final internationally.

A Spain team that is competing in their first final and is expected to draw 75,000 spectators to Stadium Australia for the match, which will start at 11:00 BST, stands in their way.

The build-up from Australia begins at 09:45 on BBC One, where millions more people will watch the game live.

In the ninth iteration of the competition, the winners will become the fifth different country to be named world champions.

The only other winners are Japan, Norway, the United States (four times), and Germany (twice).

Sarina Wiegman, manager of England, said, "Everyone's talking about 1966, so let's be at our best on Sunday and try and be successful."

"Making it to the final is special, but with this team and the difficulties we faced, how we continually find solutions has been amazing - [it's] very special to be in a final, but now we want to win it too."

Thirteen months after defeating Germany at Wembley to capture the European Championship for the first time, the Lionesses—who will be sporting their blue uniform—are vying for global success.

Will Lionesses clear final hurdle?

While England's path to the Euro 2022 crown was fairly serene, their journey to the World Cup final has been anything but.

They lost three stars of that triumph to knee injuries prior to this tournament - Leah Williamson, Beth Mead and Fran Kirby - while they have also been tested in Australia, losing key players Keira Walsh and Lauren James to injury and suspension respectively and coming through a penalty shootout against Nigeria.

But Wiegman's side have been calm under pressure and they have been behind for just seven minutes - against Colombia in the quarter-finals.

Meanwhile, Walsh only missed one game after her injury was not as bad as first feared and James is available for the final after serving her two-match ban for stamping on Nigeria's Michelle Alozie.

Wiegman will have to decide whether to stick with the line-up which performed so impressively in the 3-1 semi-final win over Australia, or bring back James, who was England's best player at the tournament before her red card.

Captain Millie Bright, who was given the armband for the World Cup after the injury to Williamson, said: "It's a dream come true to be in the World Cup final. Leading the girls out is a special feeling.

"We have got a game plan that we have to go out and execute. Everyone knows how big this is. We know how passionate our nation is back home and how much they want us to win."

La Roja put controversy to one side

Against a backdrop of unrest, disharmony, and a 4-0 defeat by Japan in the group stage, it is remarkable that Spain, who are ranked sixth in the world - two places below England - have managed to reach the final.

Reports of a rift between boss Jorge Vilda and his players have followed La Roja all the way in this tournament.

La Roja, appearing in just their third World Cup, have impressed since that heavy defeat by Japan, knocking out Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden.

Centre-back Irene Paredes said: "Spain has always been a football loving country but it was not our space, or at least that's how they made us feel.

"We want to play football and [those who came before us] pushed so they invested more in women's football. We have the opportunity to play in a final of a World Cup. It is the time to enjoy it."

The majority of their squad is made up of players from Champions League winners Barcelona, including 2021 and 2022 Ballon d'Or winner Alexia Putellas.

However it is 19-year-old forward Salma Paralluelo who has stolen the headlines, following up her winning goal in the quarter-final against the Netherlands by scoring against Sweden in the semi-finals, both times after coming on a substitute.

Battle of the bosses - Wiegman v Vilda

Jorge Vilda and Sarina Wiegman during Euro 2022

While England boss Wiegman has rightly won widespread plaudits for uniting her squad and taking them to the next level, Spain head coach Vilda has been surrounded by controversy since a player revolt last September.

The Dutchwoman has reached a fourth major tournament final in a row, having won back-to-back Euros with the Netherlands and England, either side of a World Cup final defeat with her native country at the 2019 World Cup.

The only defeat of Wiegman's 38-game reign with the Lionesses so far came in a friendly against Australia at Brentford in April - and she has won 18 out of 19 matches at major tournaments as a manager.

Vilda, meanwhile, has been involved in a feud with 15 of his players amid reports of concern over training methods and inadequate game preparation.

A stand-off ensued and only three of those players were included in his World Cup squad, meaning some world-class talent such as Champions League winners Patri Guijarro, Mapi Leon and Claudia Pina were left at home.


England's Ella Toone celebrates scoring against Spain at Euro 2022

England and Spain have never faced each other at a World Cup, while the Lionesses have only lost two of their past 13 games in all competitions against La Roja (winning seven and drawing the other four).

Their most recent meeting came in the quarter-finals at Euro 2022, when England needed a late equaliser from Ella Toone and an extra-time winner from Georgia Stanway to squeeze into the semi-finals.

"It was a game that we know we were on top, but the result is what counts," said Vilda. "[Sunday] will be a tactical match and it's a final that we're going to fight with everything."

Royalty in attendance

The final, which is a 75,784 sell-out, kicks-off at 20:00 local time in Australia, which is nine hours ahead of England.

La Roja will be cheered on in Sydney by royalty, with Spain's Queen Letizia attending the final.

Football Association President Prince William has wished the England women's national team good luck and said he is "sorry" for not attending the game in person in a video message.

Football fan zones in London have already sold out in anticipation of the Lionesses' match.

If England do win, the government has said there are "no plans" for an extra bank holiday.

England flags and bunting hung across the Kirby Estate in Bermondsey, south London, in support of the Lionesses before the World Cuo final

'World-class England to conquer world'

Former England keeper Rachel Brown-Finnis' World Cup final prediction:

I have backed England from the start and I'm not going to change my mind now.

Spain have got quality players and will have lots of possession but England also have world-class players. And they have the big-game experience, having beaten Spain on their way to winning Euro 2022.

The teams are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to togetherness. The problems within the Spanish system and the debate over coach Vilda's methods are well documented, while England are closely knit and are enjoying themselves.

I think this, together with Wiegman, are the extra percentage points that will get England over the line.

And I'm confident it could be a similar scoreline to England's win in the semi-final. I think they will start with the same XI as they did in the semi-final but will bring James and Chloe Kelly off the bench, to play their part too in the final.

Brown-Finnis' prediction: Spain 1-3 England

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