Its hard to believe, the World Cup is nearly over. We are down to one last match. These have been exciting weeks. Twenty-four teams show up to compete on the world stage. Sixteen advance to participate in a knockout tournament. Every match sees one team go home. Now, just two remain. In a tournament dominated by European teams, perhaps it is fitting the European champions are in the final against the number one team in the world.
There has been a lot of great soccer. Sweden showed why it earned a bronze medal. Two dangerous attackers up front who both scored in the third-place match. Kosovare Asllani and Sofia Jakobsson threatened with runs nearly every match. Nilla Fischer made a great defensive header near the end to seal it. England brought the best defender (Lucy Bronze) and the best attacker (Ellen White) to the tournament. That did not prove to be enough as the Lionesses go home without a medal.
I have been thankful that the local Primanti Brothers opened in time for me to stop in and watch some matches. During the USA vs. England match every television was tuned into the match. And the place screamed when Christen Press hit that header into the net at the ten-minute mark. I still sometimes wonder why Jill Ellis doesn’t do what I want her to do. But then, all she does is win.
Media coverage has been decent. Media hype has been terrible. The attempt to make France and USA match the equivalent of final was bizarre. Sure, France has strong players. Yes, they are the home team. Yes, they have the best song “If you aren’t jumping, then you’re not French.” But let’s face it, that was just an attempt to get Paris rocking and to build television ratings.
Don’t watch for any story the media might be drudging up. This is the World Cup final. It is its own story. There are plenty of reasons to pay attention. Here are a few; 1) The Netherland’s Jackie Groenen might be the strongest midfielder in the tournament. 2) Rose Lavelle is making a good case that she is the strongest midfielder in the tournament. 3) Crystal Dunn has been putting on a clinic at outside defender. 4) Alyssa Naeher might make another surprising save. 5) Becky Sauerbruun, Carli Lloyd, and Megan Rapinoe are likely playing in their final World Cup match. 6) Tobin Heath might make a move that will make you smile. 7) Anything can happen. 8) It’s the World Cup, both teams have made it through a gauntlet to get this far.