A Women’s World Cup semi-final berth is a reflection of how far the Netherlands have come. The Dutch have reached the last four for the first time and face Sweden on Thursday morning 5am AEST.
Women’s football writer Kieran Theivam, who’s currently in France covering the tournament, says the Dutch winning the European Championships in 2017, was one of the biggest surprises he’s seen in the ten years he’s covered Women’s game.
“The Netherlands had not been in particularly great form going into that competition, I’d seen them nine months earlier play at home to England in front of maybe five or six thousand fans and they lost 1-0,” he said.
“Going into that competition in 2017, never did I imagine they would go on the run they did, never did I imagine I would see stadiums sold out with a sea of orange.
“It’s incredible and you’re absolutely right, it’s a reflection on how teams can perform if they have the right structure in place.
“We have to acknowledge is that investment is what is going to produce results.”
Combined with investment, the Netherlands are reaping the rewards of having a squad at its peak. The front trio of Lieke Martens, Vivianne Miedema and Shanice van de Sanden have been causing havoc for defences.
One of the most outstanding player’s this tournament has been Miedema, who is only 22 and has made history becoming her country’s all-time top goalscorer with 61.
Midfielder Danielle van de Donk also makes up the Dutch spine and combines smoothly with Miedema as does centre-back and Wolfsburg’s Dominique Bloodworth.
Midfielder Sherida Spitse has made her own impact in France with four assists.
It’s no surprise the Netherlands have won all of their games at this year’s Women’s World Cup given the quality, defeating New Zealand, Cameroon, Canada, Japan and Italy along the way.
However Sweden have claimed an ‘unpredictable’ tag following their shock win against Germany in the quarter-finals.
The Scandinavians haven’t reached a Women’s World Cup final in 16 years, after they did so by defeating Germany 2-1 in extra time in California.
Their run through the group stage was patchy, with losses to Chile and also the U.S, the only three points they took home were from the 5-1 win against Thailand which is hard to put into context.
Outside of the group stage, Sweden have had a perfect run with wins against Canada and Germany. Hence their unpredictability.
The Netherlands will be taking their perfect run throughout the tournament into the clash against them though, they knocked Sweden out of Euro 2017 with thanks to goals from Martens and Miedema.
Sweden, have made improvements on the world stage since their last tournament in 2015, where they didn’t win any of their four matches. In France, they’ve won four of their five, will it be enough to get into the final?