The United States are the world champions and it’s everyone else’s job to try and take it off them.
This year a new contender in the Netherlands emerges – one which advances to the World Cup final for the first time ever and has nothing to lose.
The Dutch were tipped for a big campaign in the lead up, brushing Australia aside 3-0 in a friendly with the world marvelling at their front three.
While the 2017 European champions are yet to lose a game in the tournament, they have made a habit of leaving it late – leaving their many fans with hardly any fingernails – with their only convincing win coming in the Quarter Final against Italy.
In contrast, the US looked to make a statement every time they took the field.
Whether it was putting 13 goals past Thailand or starting Megan Rapinoe on the bench, the US have embraced the ‘best in the world’ tag and have been quick to remind everyone at every opportunity.
The final hence pits two polar opposites against one-another.
While the narrative may be the seasoned champions against the ‘new kids on the block’ both sides have also been very distinct in the way they have won matches.
Their respective paths were perhaps foreshadowed in the opening matchday of the Group stages.
The United States sent people scrambling to the archives after their big win against Thailand whereas a 92nd minute Jill Roord goal secured a narrow win for the Dutch against New Zealand.
The Netherlands have been far from convincing yet are 90 to 120 minutes away from being crowned World champions.
Vivianne Miedema has been a standout, scoring her 61st international goal at just 22 but has flown solo with her two partners in crime – Lieke Martins and Shanice van de Sanden – having a limited impact.
Luckily for the Dutch – and perhaps unfortunately for the US – previous achievements mean nothing when play is commenced in the final.
Portugal and Greece’s European triumphs against heavy favourites will act as reminders of what could happen, with the United States heavily fancied over the Dutch.
Have the Dutch proven they are worthy contenders?
Difficult to say – albeit it won’t matter once the ball is kicked on Monday morning.