Everything you need to know about the Women's World Cup final
After a month of thrilling action in Australia and New Zealand, the Women's World Cup final is upon us. Get ready for Sunday's contest between Spain and England with theScore's comprehensive preview package.
The lowdown 📝
Who: Spain vs. England
When: Sunday, Aug. 20 (6 a.m. ET)
Where: Stadium Australia (Sydney)
Referee: Tori Penso (United States)
VAR: Tatiana Guzman (Nicaragua)
How to watch 📺
TV: FOX, Telemundo, Universo (U.S.); TSN, CTV, RDS (Canada)
Stream: Peacock, Fox Sports, Universo Now (U.S.); TSN+ (Canada)
Betting odds 🤑
Odds via theScore Bet
Key questions ❓
Will Lauren James start after serving her suspension?
England coach Sarina Wiegman has a decision to make: start the previously undroppable James, who's eligible to play in Sunday's final after serving a two-match suspension, or keep faith in Ella Toone, who replaced James in the No. 10 position and scored an incredible goal in the semifinal win over Australia. James racked up three goals and three assists in the group stage before stamping on a Nigerian player in the round of 16. That was the only game she failed to take over. As the only English man or woman to score in a major tournament quarterfinal, semifinal, and final, Toone is far less of a wild card. That could prove beneficial in a tournament final.
What impact will breakout star Salma Paralluelo have?
Paralluelo has been playing football full time for only a year. Before signing with Barcelona in 2022, the teenage phenom showed incredible promise on the track, setting national records in the 400-meter and 400-meter hurdles events at the under-20 level. But her speed is just one part of her game. Paralluelo takes on defenders with bravado and picks out vacant parts of the net with ease. She's scored twice off the bench at this World Cup, including the extra-time winner in Spain's quarterfinal victory over the Netherlands, and adds a sense of unpredictability to Jorge Villa's side. Expect Paralluelo to make more of an impact off the bench in the second half of Sunday's final. Her runs down the left wing will wreak havoc.
Can England's back three deal with Spain's attack?
With stars Fran Kirby, Beth Mead, and Leah Williamson all out injured, England has followed a completely different blueprint than the one that helped it win Euro 2022. The back three has been a revelation, with Alex Greenwood and Jess Carter, both peripheral figures during the Euros, emerging as key cogs in Wiegman's reworked formation. Wiegman initially deployed the 3-4-1-2 as a way to deal with midfielder Keira Walsh's injury-enforced absence in the eventual 6-1 win over China, and it stuck. Greenwood has been particularly good - she leads her teammates in progressive passes (50) and clearances (25) and the entire tournament in completed passes (534) and touches (669) - but her biggest test awaits in the form of Spanish striker Jenni Hermoso. England's defense, which has conceded just two goals from open play, will also have to find a way to limit playmaker Aitana Bonmati's influence.
Further reading 📖
Dive into some of the game's primary storylines:
- Mutiny to history? Charting Spain's path to World Cup final
- Bonmati emerges to lead Spain out of tumultuous time
- Spain coach Vilda says off-field turmoil made team stronger
- Ballon d'Or winner Putellas reduced to supporting role for Spain
- Can Lionesses end England's 57-year World Cup drought?
- England's golden girl Russo finds scoring touch at World Cup
- Wiegman living a "fairytale" with England near immortality
Projected lineups 👀
Spain (4-3-3): Cata Coll; Ona Batlle, Irene Paredes, Laia Codina, Olga Carmona; Aitana Bonmati, Teresa Abelleira, Alexia Putellas; Alba Redondo, Jenni Hermoso, Mariona Caldentey
England (3-4-1-2): Mary Earps; Jess Carter, Millie Bright, Alex Greenwood; Lucy Bronze, Keira Walsh, Georgia Stanway, Rachel Daly; Lauren James; Alessia Russo, Lauren Hemp
Kit matchup 👕
Path to the final 🏟
Reviewing how both teams got to Sydney:
Group stage: Second place in Group C
Round of 16: Beat Switzerland 5-1
Quarterfinals: Beat Netherlands 2-1 after extra time
Semifinals: Beat Sweden 2-1
Group stage: First place in Group D
Round of 16: Beat Nigeria 4-2 on penalties
Quarterfinals: Beat Colombia 2-1
Semifinals: Beat Australia 3-1
By the numbers 🔢
Raw statistics for finalists:
|Alba Redondo / Jenni Hermoso / Aitana Bonmati (3)
|Alessia Russo / Lauren Hemp / Lauren James (3)
|Expected Goals (xG)
|xG Difference per 90
Tournament pedigree 🏆
Best Women's World Cup finish for both nations:
Spain: Round of 16 (2019)
England: Third place (2015)
Neither side has ever won the Women's World Cup or played in a final before. But the women's game has grown by leaps and bounds in each of the two countries since the last tournament took place four years ago. Spain has increased its investment in women's soccer, and it has produced some of the most talented players at the World Cup, including Bonmati and two-time Ballon d'Or winner Alexia Putellas. England's Lionesses are reigning European champions, and after reaching the semifinals of the past two World Cups, they've finally broken the threshold.
Fun facts 🤯
Spain: No one in Spain's 23-player squad plays club football in England. However, two of England's standout players, Lucy Bronze and Keira Walsh, star for Spain's Barcelona, along with nine other players who represent La Roja. Bronze and Walsh are expected to see at least seven of their club teammates in Spain's starting lineup on Sunday.
England: The Lionesses could do what the Three Lions haven't done: end England's long World Cup drought. England's men's team hasn't even made a World Cup final since lifting the trophy in 1966.
What they're saying 🗣
Sarina Wiegman: "So many things have changed. Of course, the expectations in England have been high all the time, but after winning the Euros, it went up. I also think the lives of the players have changed a lot. They've had to adapt to that, which has some good things but also some challenges. Performing got us where we are right now and will keep us where we are. That's what we're trying to do. We're still growing and getting better. We've seen that we can adapt to situations we've never been in before, and players can translate what we want to do to the pitch very well, and that comes with experience and a lot of intelligence."
Aitana Bonmati: "Some of us are very lucky. We've won two Champions Leagues with Barcelona. We've played at Camp Nou many times. We have the record crowd - 90,000 people came to see us play. We've played in many big games with big crowds, great atmospheres. But playing a World Cup final in front of 75,000, it will be crazy. I can't believe it's going to happen. Am I in a dream? To play in a World Cup final is already very special, but this will be on another level."
England beats Spain 2-1 after extra time to win the country's first World Cup in 57 years.