The final four of the FIFA WWC
The GIST: After a record-setting 20 (!!!) penalty kicks (PKs) in one. single. match., the FIFA Women’s World Cup (WWC) semifinals are finally set. By this time next week, a new champion will have been crowned, but first, two epic semis showdowns.
No. 6 Spain vs. No. 3 Sweden — Tomorrow at 4 a.m. ET: Fueled by Abba and a Golden Boot push from center back Amanda Ilestedt, the Blue and Yellow toppled a surging No. 11 Japan squad 2–1 in the quarters. Meanwhile, La Roja have finally started playing like a tournament favorite, showcasing their depth in a gritty extra time quarter-final win over the Netherlands, punching their first-ever WWC semis appearance.
- And while it’s Spain’s first semifinals showing, their quick passes and persistent offense are enough to intimidate even the most experienced opponents.
- But Sweden’s efficient shot takers and lockdown defense have played spoiler all tourney long. This perennial bridesmaid might be ready for a big day of her own.
No. 10 Australia vs. No. 4 England — Wednesday at 6 a.m. ET: With a nation at their back, co-host Australia is rising to the occasion. After a 0–0 regulation draw, the Matildas overpowered No. 5 France 7–6 in penalties on Saturday. Then later that day, England staged a wild 2–1 comeback against No. 25 Colombia, bringing Las Cafeteras' Cinderella story to an end.
- Much like Spain, Wednesday will mark Australia's first WWC semi. Standout forward Sam Kerr has seen an uptick in minutes since the group stage, but her absence due to injury created space for the Matildas’ young stars, like forward Mary Fowler, to shine. They’re the lowest-ranked team remaining, but their home-team advantage can’t be denied.
- On the opposite end, injury-plagued England is hungry following last year’s Euros win. The Lionesses’ head coach Sarina Wiegman has only lost once in her last 37 matches with the national team. That 2–0 L was to — you guessed it — Australia in a friendly four months ago. Old rivalry, meet new stakes.