Women's World Cup Final: Can Netherlands stop mighty USA?

USA's Alex Morgan
Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe have been solid this competition

The US are firm favourites to win the Women's World Cup final against the Netherlands. Meanwhile England can beat Sweden in their play-off, says Max Liu.

"The USA are 1/3 to score first on Sunday. Morgan, who was imperious against England, is 11/4 to be the first goalscorer."

Brave Lionesses aside, Sunday's Women's World Cup final in Lyon is the one you'd want to see. It's the world champions against the European champions, a country famous for total football against a team that's achieved total domination, brilliant orange versus stars and stripes. Nobody is in any doubt, however, about the most likely outcome.

USA are massive favourite at 2/5 to win inside 90 minutes with the Netherlands trading at 7/1. According to Dutch midfielder Danielle van de Donk underdog status will be an advantage for her team. That's the spirit, but it'll take more than fighting talk to see off the US - a team that's chasing its fourth World Cup title to go with its four Olympic gold medals. Aura, history and the odds are all on the US's side.

Is there hope for outsiders the Netherlands?

Any team that wins the European championships, as the Netherlands did two years ago, then reaches a World Cup final deserves serious respect. They came through a tough semi-final against Sweden on Wednesday night, needing extra-time to win 1-0, and it will be interesting to see if that experience has sapped the Netherlands' players.

Let's not forget, though, that for all their swagger the US's knockout matches have been won by single goal margins. Of course, that's enough and the US have been adept at shutting up shop in their 2-1 wins against Spain, France and England. Jill Ellis's side excel at starting fast, scoring in the first 10 minutes of each of those matches, before locking out their opposition in the final third of the match.

Even without the taliswomanic Megan Rappinoe, the US hit England early, with replacement forward Kristen Press getting on the scoresheet, before Alex Morgan scored the winner just past the half-hour mark. The USA are 1/3 to score first on Sunday. Morgan, who was imperious against England, is 11/4 to be the first goalscorer.

Late Netherlands goal could upset US game plan

The Netherlands have scored late goals in each of their knockout games, notching in the 99th minute against Sweden, the 70th and 80th minutes against Italy. In the round of 16, Lieke Martens struck a decisive 90th minute penalty to beat Japan. Martens is 11/4 to get the game's last goal on Sunday.

Clearly the Netherlands know how to break down defences late in games. If they can manage that against a US side that doesn't always look comfortable defending crosses, things could get interesting, and Ellis will have to shuffle her pack. Netherlands to win the second-half is 6/1, while Netherlands to win in extra-time is a whopping 33/1.

England can go out smiling against Sweden

England Ellen-White-fistpump 1280.jpg

The third place play-off is the match no team wants to be playing in. It's a strange occasion at all tournament, with teams often still labouring under the hangover of semi-final defeat.

England's Phil Neville should ensure his players go into this one with their focus on winning. England deserved to lose to the USA. They missed a (soft) penalty and had a player sent-off. So they shouldn't be feeling sorry themselves when they play Sweden in the third-place on Saturday afternoon.

The Lionesses are 4/6 to win inside 90 minutes, with Sweden 4/1 and the draw 3/1.

Ellen White still has the Golden Boot to play for and can be backed to score first here at 4/1, while England/England 8/5 in the half-time/full-time market also appeals.

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