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Preview: Spain W vs England W – prediction, team news, line-ups

History beckons for Spain and England as Sydney’s Olympic Stadium hosts a mouth-watering 2023 Women’s World Cup final. 

The first all-European Women’s World Cup showpiece in almost 20 years, which kicks off on August 20 (11.00 am BST), has all the makings of an unforgettable encounter.

With the United States out of the way, Sydney will crown a new world champion, with Spain and England battling it out for the trophy for the first time.

Barcelona Women’s rise to stardom in the past few years has laid the groundwork for La Roja’s dream World Cup run, with the Catalan side providing a wealth of top players to manager Jorge Vilda. 

It’s Spain’s only third World Cup appearance, while they’ve never featured in a major final before, meaning this is not a revelation but a revolution in women’s football. 

Except for an unfathomable 4-0 loss to Japan on matchday three, La Roja’s road to the title-deciding fixture has been plain sailing as they’ve won all five remaining matches. 

However, they need to overcome one last hurdle to get to the podium, and based on England’s showings in Australia and New Zealand, it’ll take something special from Spain to win the gold medal.

It’s been a year since Sarina Wiegman masterminded the Lionesses’ European Championship glory, as she braces herself for another career-defining showdown. 

Following back-to-back semi-final exits, the reigning European champions have finally made a quantum leap, eliminating co-hosts Australia 3-1 in front of a raucous Sydney crowd

Potentially 90 minutes of football stand between England and a piece of history, with Wiegman’s side looking to become just the second nation after Germany to be European and World champions simultaneously.

Match Preview

Although a head-to-head record often counts for nothing when the stakes are this high, Spain cannot overlook their dreadful return of two wins from 11 previous meetings with England (D5, L4).

Driven by vengeance after letting the Lionesses halt their 2022 European Championship run in the quarter-finals last summer, La Roja will rely on their free-scoring frontline to deliver the goods. 

Led by Barcelona prodigy Salma Paralluelo, Vilda’s ladies have amassed an intimidating 17-goal haul at the tournament, trumping England’s tally of 13 by a decent margin. 

Spain’s attacking-minded football has taken its toll at the back, as evidenced by their dismal streak of four Women’s World Cup games without a clean sheet. 

With Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo leading the line, England have the quality and firepower to benefit from the Spaniards’ defensive sloppiness, although they’ve struggled with their own problems at the back.

Barring a penalty shoot-out win over Nigeria in the opening knockout round, the Lionesses have missed out on a shut-out in three of their last four Women’s World Cup outings. 

Although fairytales can crumble to dust quickly, Wiegman’s outstanding managerial record at the helm of the England national team can only inspire confidence among fans back home (W30, D7, L1).

Her tactical ingenuity has led her to a fourth grand final at major international tournaments in as many managerial appearances, which could be a critical factor when the tensions hit the roof on Sunday.

Team News

Despite welcoming Oihane Hernandez back from suspension, Spain boss Vilda still trembles in anticipation of the news regarding Paralluelo’s minor fitness problem. 

The 19-year-old’s potential absence would be a massive blow for La Roja, though there’s optimism she will recover in time to make the starting line-up. 

As for England, Ella Toone’s stunning opener against Australia in the semi-finals has probably nailed down her place in Wiegman’s starting XI at the expense of Lauren James. 

The remainder of the line-up should remain the same, with Hemp and Russo expected to continue their prolific partnership in the front third. 

Spain potential starting line-up:

(4-3-3): Catalina Coll; Oihane Hernandez, Irene Paredes, Ivana Andres, Ona Batlle; Aitana Bonmati, Teresa Abelleira, Jennifer Hermoso; Salma Paralluelo, Mariona Caldentey, Esther Gonzalez.

England potential starting line-up:

(3-5-2): Mary Earps; Jess Carter, Alex Greenwood, Millie Bright; Lucy Bronze, Georgia Stanway, Keira Walsh, Ella Toone, Rachel Daly; Alessia Russo, Lauren Hemp.

We Say: Spain 1-2 England

Spain’s formidable attack can cause problems for England’s steely backline, but Wiegman’s experience in these matches should tip the scales in the Lionesses’ favour. 

We expect England to build on last year’s Euro success. 

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