The Watch Women's World Cup Best XI
Last Sunday, 7th July,the United States was proclaimed champion of the Women's World Cup for the second consecutive time after beating the Netherlands 2-0 in the final clash of an epic tournament. Now that it's over, we would like to have a look at who we think were the best performers of the championship and therefore deserve to be in the best XI of one of the greatest Women World Cups in history.
Many players have lost on their way to the final, and some others have achieved the glory, however, there's an important message to remember: Keep fighting for your dreams! That's exactly what women's football needs to do. Keep growing more and more until the game is as accepted as the men's in our society. Anyways, without further ado, let's have a look at 'The Watch Women's World Cup Best XI':
Goalkeeper (GK): Sari van Veenendaal (The Netherlands, Free Agent)
There's no doubt about it: Sari van Veenendaal has been the best goalkeeper this World Cup, as she has been gaining more and more recognition thanks to the great saves that led The Netherlands to their first final in the tournament's history.
Even if they didn't win in the end, the Dutch keeper was the great protagonist of the final match, with several merit saves that delayed the USA's first goal, and which even saved The Netherlands from a larger defeat. She also shone in the semifinal against Sweden, and, probably, thanks to her, the Dutch went on to win the silver instead of the bronze. It's true that from what we've seen, she doesn't fully dominate the aerial game and she has suffered one or two goals from corners, however, the Dutch keeper is very agile and that makes her the perfect option to protect her team's goal. Her quick reflexes and positioning will keep saving Holland for years to come.
Defender (RB): Lucy Bronze (England, Olympique Lyon)
The engine for England, in attack, as well as defence, will be the second member of our team. Despite acting as a right-back, Lucy Bronze was one of the most influential players for England's attack, as they made their way to the semis. She plays with assiduity at front and she can generate goal chances both for her ability to step on the rival area and also thanks to her precision to put great breakthroughs balls for her teammates to feed into in the box.
During the World Cup, she formed a remarkable partnership with Nikita Parris on the right flank for England, causing struggle to get to the semifinals. A headache for more than one defender this summer... But, forwards should watch out too!
Defensively, Lucy is also a consistent defender, especially in individual duels. When facing a one-on-one situation, she knows exactly when to go for the ball and quickly make a run for a counter. Such speed and intelligence can't be missed in our best XI, man!
Defender (CB): Stephanie Houghton (England, Manchester City)
Our first centre-back is non-other than a great leader and rock in defence, England captain, Steph Houghton. The English woman will lead the defensive line with her personality and hierarchy, which will inspire the rest of the team to attack without worrying too much about the backline... Because they're clearly shouldn't with Houghton there!
Houghton has shown during the tournament that she can be a hard lock to break in most of her interventions, being a defensive haul when needed. Yet, she can also assume the responsibility of getting the ball forward, with her precision passing and especially for her dribbling ability, very rare in defenders. Her offensive level is also very high: Her set pieces and headers clearly make her a total hidden weapon no one will be expecting in attack.
Defender (CB): Nilla Fischer (Sweden, Wolfsburg)
The veteran Swedish defender is a legend for the Scandinavian team. It's very probable that without her defensive performance, Sweden's classification for the Women's World Cup semifinals wouldn't have happened, especially after having to face great teams like Canada and Germany. The key to that success was non-other than Fischer herself.
Fischer is a solid centre-back, who keeps the back line focused and is a master of the aerial game, preventing the attacks of the tallest strikers. Just like Houghton, Fischer has a hidden weapon: Her good long passes permit her to combine directly with the attackers if the match requires it. Opponents won't be seeing that one coming, am I right?
Defender (LB): Crystal Dunn (United States, North Carolina Courage)
Crystal Dunn is originally a striker and a very good one at that, but during this world cup the USA played her as a full back and quite frankly she's probably been the best defender of the competition. Her game against France was one of the standout individual performances of the tournament.
Her defensive solidity has been surprising since her skill set is that of a striker, but she has been without a doubt one of the USA's top three players this World Cup.
For our XI we will keep her at the left-back position where she will provide defensive stability and a striker's skillset to pierce through the left-hand side of the field crossing or shooting.
Midfielder (LCM): Julie Ertz (United States, Chicago Red Stars)
What better than having the balance of the American midfield in our team? Julie Ertz was outstanding for the USA, and now, for the best XI, we've made, of course. Thanks to her physical ability, Ertz was always willing to provide the defensive help her team needed, and, in several matches, she ended up being embedded as a third centre-back if need be to stop any dangerous attacks against the United States.
The North Americas needed her to keep the middle of the park stable when Lavelle and Mewis went forward, she was the perfect piece to keep the balance for a side which was outstanding in both defence and attack. That's what we expect of her in this best XI. Ertz, we're counting on you!
Midfielder (CM): Sherida Spitse (The Netherlands, Vålerenga Football)
Spitse, one of the oldest players for The Netherlands this summer, has surpassed all expectations. The axis of the Dutch medulla and the compass in the moments of greatest need, Sherida Spitse turned her consistency into one of her great virtues. She's rarely badly positioned and she's a player with a fantastic feel for the game and an extremely high football IQ.
Her precision in the set pieces was key as it turned out to be one of the best offensive weapons for the "Oranje" team. Such talent needed to be on our team.
Midfielder (RCM): Rose Lavelle (United States, Washington Spirit)
Women's World Cup Bronze Ball Rose Lavelle, one of the stars for the USA, shone in all her glory during the tournament, thanks to her ability to dribble and score goals. Lavelle has been the key of the American midfield: She was one of the main protagonists in the triumph against Spain, a tough opponent I might say.
Later on, she completed another impressive performance against England and again stood out in the final match against The Netherlands, scoring the 2nd and final goal of the game, ensuring her team's victory.
Lavelle can switch between both flanks at high speed, receive the ball very well on the back of the rival midfielders and then swap instantly to strike powerfully with her left foot into the back of the net. As I mentioned earlier, she's proficient in dribbling and very dangerous when shooting from mid-distance (If not, ask Van Veneendal). Finally, she's the 3rd youngest player in the USA squad, and she's called to lead the Americans into a very bright talented future. Do you really need more reasons for Lavelle to be in this team?
Forward (RW): Kosovare Asllani (Sweden, Linköpings FC)
Kosovare Asllani... What could I say about her?
The Swedish striker acted mainly as a play-maker for the Scandinavian side and shone as a liaison between the midfield and the striking force of the team. Asllani signed off a superb elimination phase and had no problems to help out when needed in the decisive matches. Her ability to break the opposition lines and her ability to assist anyone was indispensable elements for Sweden to go through to the semifinals.
Against The Netherlands, she certainly had her best performance of the World Cup, despite the Dutch fouling her at any chance they had. Asllani was always asking for the ball and she acted as a leader, facing any kind of adversity without giving up. They couldn't go through to the dreamed final, however, but she put the icing on the cake of her Women's World Cup performance after scoring one of the goals in the duel against England for the bronze medal. A hidden leader, with passion and determination, she deserves to be in our team 120%.
Forward (LW) & Team Captain (C): Megan Rapinoe (United States, Reign FC)
No question about it: Megan Rapinoe, Trump's greatest archenemy, is the great figure of Women's professional sport and Women's Football right now.
The American forward finished the tournament as the top scorer: 6 goals, tied with Morgan and Ellen White... But, she had more assists, so... Sorry, girls! (Morgan had 3 and Rapinoe 2? Strange, very strange. Oh, well...)
She has been the talisman of the World Cup champions for the second consecutive time, after beating the newcomer, Netherlands, 2-0. Although there has been some controversy with all the "dodgy" penalties given to the Americans in the last minutes of games, Rapinoe has shown her teammates the way to the title, with speed, technique, cheeky purple hair and ambition for trophies... And maybe a little bit of help from VAR for her magnificent goals. But, that's another story, for another day.
Forward (ST): Ellen White (England, Manchester City)
The great scorer for England throughout this Women's World Cup, she scored in all the games she played, except the fatal match against Sweden, where the Lionesses couldn't even get the bronze. The outstanding performances of the Man City striker, however, have shown the world what English football is all about.
Ellen White moved stealthily near the top of the area and armed every shot quickly with either leg as soon as she had the right opportunity, rarely failing to find the back of the net. Now I understand why Manchester City tied her up before the World Cup. GENIUS!