talkSPORT’s chief football correspondent ALEX CROOK …. history will be made in Sydney on Sunday as a brand-new winner of the Women’s World Cup is crowned. Alex previews the match with his recommended selections on starsports.bet.
⚽ SPAIN WOMEN v ENGLAND WOMEN (11am Sunday)
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What a tournament it has been, with record attendances and upsets galore as many of the more fancied nations fell long before the business end of proceedings.
Given the absence of key trio Fran Kirby, Beth Mead, and inspirational captain Leah Williamson, I was pessimistic about England’s chances of glory, and the Lionesses did not set the world alight with a limp 1-0 win over minnows Haiti in their opening game.
But the European champions have done what all good tournament teams do and slowly grown their way into the competition.
The Lionesses have also dealt with their fair share of adversity, from Kiera Walsh’s knee injury, which thankfully was not as serious as it could have been, to Lauren James’s needless red card against Nigeria.
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England’s trump card has been serial winner Serena Weigman, who will claim another record by becoming the first coach to lead out two different nations in World Cup finals.
Already the only coach to win back-to-back Euros, the Dutchwoman’s calm style yet steely determination for success has helped England clear any obstacle that has been thrown at them.
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Their dominant semi-final victory over co-hosts Australia was England’s best performance of the tournament, so Weigman – who is being touted as a potential successor for Gareth Southgate – has got her side firing at the perfect moment.
England are narrow second favourites with Spain 5/6 to lift the trophy with starsports.bet and their passage to their first ever final has been more swashbuckling, scoring five goals against Zambia and Switzerland and four against Japan.
La Roja have come a long way since 15 players wrote to the Spanish FA last October complaining about their treatment from controversial coach Jorge Vilda.
In Alexia Putellas they have a former Ballon d’Or winner in their ranks, but it is Aitana Bonmati who has emerged as their driving force and a likely to be named Player of the Tournament if Vilda’s team go all the way.
Stopping Bonmati pulling the strings in midfield will be central to Wiegmann’s gameplan, and I envisage a tense Sunday morning as the Lionesses bid to become England’s first world champions in 57 years.
However, I am backing Wiegmann’s big-game experience to get the job done. After all, she has lost just one of her 38 games in charge and boasts an incredible 79% win rate.
The return of James is also a timely boost for England as the Chelsea star will have a point to prove after her sending off shame.
England to lift the trophy at 20/21 with starsports.bet will be my main play.
With a tight game anticipated I will also be backing England to win 2-1 at 10/1 with starsports.bet.
Alessia Russo scored a sublime third goal against Australia to seal England’s place in the final, and still has an outside chance of at least sharing the Golden Boot.
I like the look of Russo at 6/1 with starsports.bet to score the first goal and also Russo at 14/5 with starsports.bet to score at any time.
England to lift the trophy 10/11 2pts (⭐
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England to win 2-1 10/1 0.5 pts (⭐
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Russo to score first 6/1 0.5 pts with starsports.bet
Russo to score at any time 14/5 1pt with starsports.bet