2023 Women’s World Cup: Spain wins first-ever World Championship!

World Cup
Spain’s Olga Carmona celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the final of Women’s World Cup soccer between Spain and England at Stadium Australia in Sydney, Australia, Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

The 2023 Women’s World Cup has come to a dramatic conclusion! Spain are champions of the World for the first time! Their 1-0 win capped off a great tournament where they dominated from match one. This final may not have had a lot of goals, but that doesn’t mean that this was not a top-notch World Cup Final played between Spain and England!

World Cup
Spain’s Olga Carmona celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the final of Women’s World Cup soccer between Spain and England at Stadium Australia in Sydney, Australia, Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Coaching tactics on full display for World Cup Final

Before the match even started the battle for supremacy began! England coach Sarina Wiegman chose to not start her star player, Lauren James, who was coming back from a two-game suspension. Her thought must have been to keep her a difference-maker for the second half.

Spain’s coach, Jore Vilda, asked his recent super sub to become the starter up top. Salma Paralluelo had been the ace up Spain’s sleeve in the last two matches late in games. She got the start in this one pushing Jennifer Hermoso out of the striker role and into midfield. Let’s look further at these tactics which would set up a brilliant World Cup Final match!

England came out in its preferred formation at this World Cup a 3-4-1-2: Earps in goal; a back three of Greenwood, Bright, and Carter; Daly and Bronze the wingbacks; a midfield trio of Walsh, Stanway, and Toone; with a strike partnership of Hemp and Russo.

This asks Alex Greenwood to be a good distributor from the backline to find the right runs forward from the wingbacks, midfielders, or strikers. It also puts the onus on Walsh and Stanway in the middle; they need to know when to venture forward or stay home. While these players will be called upon, the main threat to England lies in their wingback. If they got caught too far forward Spain could capitalize on the space in behind.

Spain played in their favored 4-3-3 formation: Coll in net; a back four of Batlle, Paredes, Codina, and Carmona; Bonmati, Abelleria, and Hermoso the trio in midfield; with an attacking three of Redondo out wide right, Caldentey wide left, and Paralluelo in the striker spot.

This formation and Spanish XI are all about possession. They have out-possessed every opponent at this World Cup and would look to do this to England as well. The key factor to Spanish success lies in their midfielders Aitana Bonmati, and Jennifer Hermoso. If they can find the runs of Salma Paralluelo, or combine with wingers Alba Redondo and Mariona Caldentey then they could dominate the game.

The match itself was high-flying from the first minute!

World Cup
Spain’s Salma Paralluelo tris to score a goal during the Women’s World Cup soccer final between Spain and England at Stadium Australia in Sydney, Australia, Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Steve Markham)

A back-and-forth first half goes Spain’s way

From the opening whistle, this Final was played at a very fast pace. Both nations were able to possess the ball and get chances early on. Nothing would come of those spells of possession, but it got both England and Spain up for this match! England would get the first real change as Hemp forced Coll into what was an easy save in the fifth minute. As the first half progressed, Spain would win more possession, but England would create more chances.

No chance was more electrifying than in the 16th minute. England worked a good bit of possession; Stanway crossed into the box, but it was cleared easily by Spain. However, the ball fell to Hemp at the edge of the box. She tagged the ball, and it beat Coll but rung off the crossbar. This was a huge wake-up call for Spain, but it was one that would help them greatly in the World Cup Final.

Right after Hemp’s chance for England. Spain noticed that England’s wingbacks were pushing very far forward. They immediately looked to attack down the left flank and almost got the opening goal thanks to a Redondo shot, but Earps was strong enough to parry it away. 10 minutes later Spain would attack down the left again, this time after an England mistake.

In what was a brilliant moment at this World Cup Final, Spain was able to disposes England in the middle of the pitch. Since England was gearing up for an attack, Bronze had flown up the field. This left the left side wide open. Spain worked the ball to Caldentey who saw the powerful overlapping run of Carmona. She stormed into the box and hit a low shot that was able to beat Earps and give Spain the lead!

As the first half went on, England battled to get back into the match. They kept being able to win the ball off of Spain, but they couldn’t find the attacking touch needed to get a real chance. This also left them vulnerable on the flanks. Spain was almost able to double their lead thanks to that just before halftime. Batlle was able to get in down the right and played a perfect ball to Paralluelo who shot and hit the post.

If that had gone in could have been game over at this World Cup Final, but England survived to be just 1-0 down heading into halftime.

World Cup
Spain’s Olga Carmona celebrates after scoring her side’s opening goal during the Women’s World Cup soccer final between Spain and England at Stadium Australia in Sydney, Australia, Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

A Second half shakeup’s not enough for England

England made a tactical change coming out of the halftime break at the World Cup Final. Lauren James came in for Rachel Daly, and Chloe Kelly came in for Alessia Russo. This shifted England into more of a flat 4-4-2 with James as a creative attacking midfielder. The wingback’s Carter and Bronze were pushed back as traditional outside backs. The change did little to stop Spain from out-possessing England, but it did provide more attacking oomph when the Lionesses went forward.

La Roja was still on the front foot to start the second half. Their possession game helped them keep a numbers advantage in the final third. As Englnad kept more players behind the ball to stop Spain; Spain’s passing looked to unlock them. 20 minutes into the second half, Spain looked to have the defining moment of the World Cup final.

VAR confirmed that there was an England handball in the box, and in the 68th minute, Jennifer Hermoso stepped up to give Spain a huge 2-0 lead. Before the kick England’s Lucy Bronze was appealing to the referee that the ball was not on the penalty spot. This knocked Hermoso off her game a bit.

After the delay, referee Tori Penso blew the whistle, and Hermoso took a deep breath. She stepped up to strike the ball but hit it poorly. England’s Earps guessed the right way and stoned the chance. Could this turn the tide in this thrilling World Cup Final?

With just about 20 minutes left England put the pressure on Spain they looked to work the ball to Lauren James who was getting on the ball more often than not. In the 76th minute, James almost produced another England moment of brilliance when was able to get behind the defense and poke a shot that looked destined for the top corner of the net. Coll was ready though and palmed it up onto the roof of the net.

The final fifteen minutes of the World Cup Final were filled with both nations playing frantically. Challenges flew in left, right, and center, and it lead to a lot of players on the pitch needing attending to. Because of this, and because there were no great chances created, there were 13 minutes of added time!

As added time began at the World Cup Final, Spain kept was still playing in their high-flying gear. They created a few chances early on that needed saving from Earps. She made those saves, and England began to look desperate in their limited possession.

There was no cohesive chance for England. Spain kept moving the ball up the pitch and made it very difficult for England to get possession, and create chances. England had one last heave; a corner kick at the death. Goalkeeper Earps went up to help the attack, but the ball put into the box was not good enough. Spain dealt with the pressure, and the final whistle blew!

World Cup
England’s goalkeeper Mary Earps blocks a penalty shot from Spain’s Jennifer Hermoso during the Women’s World Cup soccer final between Spain and England at Stadium Australia in Sydney, Australia, Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

Spain wins their first-ever Women’s World Cup!

Spain has won the 2023 Women’s World Cup! They played a comprehensive game, and limited what England could do offensively while exploiting their weaknesses out wide defensively! The win is a huge moment for the growing Women’s Footballing nation!

The only slip-up that Spain had was in their final group stage, losing 4-0 to Japan. That helped them come together to understand how to play in big matches. They went on to win four straight knockout round games to lift the World Cup!

The Spanish won the U-17, U-20, and now the senior Women’s World Cup. All of this has come in such a short span, over the last few years, it is memorizing! Spain is now the reigning champion of the world, and it signals a true changing of the guard in the sport that has been seen throughout all of the 2023 Women’s World Cup!

World Cup
Spain’s Olga Carmona celebrates after scoring a goal during the Women’s World Cup soccer final between Spain and England at Stadium Australia in Sydney, Australia, Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

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