The final two matches are set at the Women’s World Cup.
Fans are guaranteed a first time winner, but how does the staff at SB Nation see these two matches shaking out?
Spain vs. Sweden
One of these nations will advance to their first Final at the Women’s World Cup.
From my vantage point, it looks like Sweden will be that team.
If we were sleeping on Sweden, we are wide awake now. After dispatching the top-ranked team heading into the Women’s World Cup they turned around and defeated Japan, the team that was playing the best in the tournament itself. They can defend, evidenced by allowing just one goal against the United States and Japan, they can create opportunities on the attack, and when they need her to step up, keeper Zecira Musovic — one of the breakout stars of the tournament — can bail them out. It will be a fascinating match, but from where I sit, Sweden moves on. — Mark Schofield
This is a real “heart vs. head” thing for me. I’ve liked Spain in this entire tournament and were one of my pre-World Cup favorites to win it all after Japan. The issue now is that I look at their total resume and there’s not a lot that’s really convincing about how they’ve reached this point. They were in a very soft group where they were essentially guaranteed to move on with Japan, and really only had one true test in the Netherlands in the quarter finals — where they didn’t exactly inspire in their 2-1 win. Meanwhile Sweden weren’t a team I had tremendous faith in leading up to the tournament, but it’s impossible to deny that they don’t feel like a winner. History tells me to go head over heart, so Sweden wins and heads to the final. — James Dator
Spain’s resume of victories is extremely impressive, being able to win nail-biters as well as comfortably put teams away. However, Sweden have just been a complete, dominant team the entire tournament. After dispatching Japan, one of the top teams in the entire tournament, the Swedish team has proven that they don’t have many holes. They’ve only given up two goals in the entire tournament and can easily create chances in their opponent’s final third. They seem like the best team in the tournament, so I gotta roll with them: Sweden moves on. —JP Acosta
Australia vs. England
There is something about this Australia side. The Matildas survived an extended ten-round penalty shootout against France to advance to the semis, and they may very well have Sam Kerr back in the starting lineup for this match against England. Kerr suffered a calf injury in the buildup to the World Cup, and did not see her first action until coming off the bench against Denmark in the Round of 16. She came on in the 65th minute against France, and converted her chance from the spot during the penalty shootout. She likely gets a spot in the starting lineup, and it gives a big boost to the home team. Australia advances. — Mark Schofield
It takes two things to win a game: Score goals, and stop goals. Sure, it’s extremely reductive, but it’s easy to get lost in the minutia and ignore this basic fact. There’s no keeper left in the tournament better than Australia’s Mackenzie Arnold, who leads the World Cup with four clean sheets. Pair this with the scoring prowess of Sam Kerr (which we’ve yet to see truly emerge) and the potential is here to complete their Cinderella run. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with England, and they deserve to be taken seriously as a threat — they just don’t have that magic x-factor that Australia does right now while playing at home. Australia wins, and Sydney explodes as the Matildas head to the final. — James Dator
England have been kinda just barely scraping by in their recent games, especially without Lauren James. They have the talent to win the entire thing, but it just feels like Australia is riding a massive wave of momentum. Sam Kerr is one of, if not the best women’s player in the world, and she didn’t see any action until late in the match against France. If she’s at 100% going into the semifinal, I find it hard to go against the literal home team in this scenario. Australia moves on to the final. —JP Acosta