Four teams have been crowned champions in the last eight Women’s World Cups. USA (1991, 1999, 2015, 2019), Germany (2003, 2007),바카라 Norway (1995) and Japan (2011). However, none of them will be in the semi-finals of the ninth tournament, the 2023 Women’s World Cup Australia-New Zealand. Germany packed it in early after being dumped by South Korea in the group stage, while the USA and Norway crashed out in the round of 16. Then Japan crashed out in the quarter-finals, leaving just four teams from the big powers. England, Australia, Spain, and Sweden. Whoever wins now will make history with their first title.

The team that looks closest to the throne is the reigning European champions, England. The Three Lions reached the quarter-finals for the third consecutive World Cup with a 2-1 upset victory over Colombia, the surprise team of the tournament, in the quarter-finals on Wednesday (12 June). Since appointing Sarina Wigman as head coach two years ago, the Three Lions had lost just once in 37 matches before the Colombia game. That includes the 2022 Women’s European Championship, which they won outright last year. According to football data firm Opta, England have a 31.59 per cent chance of winning the tournament. It’s the highest of the four teams.

England women’s football team’s Lauren Hemp celebrates their quarter-final win over Colombia at the Australia-New Zealand Women’s World Cup 2023 at Stadium Australia in Sydney, Australia, on Wednesday. Sydney/Reuters

England’s World Cup journey has been far from smooth sailing. In the round of 16, they were held to a goalless draw by a resurgent Nigeria after facing 20 shots on target and had to settle for a penalty shootout (4-2), before conceding an early goal in the quarter-finals. England had an ‘underdog’s fight’ against Colombia, being outshot 9-15, and were happy to get down and dirty. As the UK’s Guardian put it, “This is not how champions play, this is how champions win. Where Germany, Japan and the US lacked, England persevered and overcame.”

The same can be said for their quarter-final opponents, hosts Australia. The Socceroos defeated France in a penalty shootout (7-6) involving 20 kickers from both teams after a 0-0 draw in the quarter-finals on the same day. Australia’s goalkeeper, Mackenzie Arnold (West Ham), missed a chance to seal the win when she stepped up as the fifth kicker, but made three saves to send the Socceroos through to the quarter-finals. “It’s unprecedented for them to stay in the game and hold on for the win after missing the penalty,” said Australia coach Tony Gustafsson. Great mental strength.”

Australia had reached the Women’s World Cup quarter-finals on six previous occasions, but had never made it past the semi-final stage. They’ve busted the ‘quarter-final jinx’ and are favourites to win the title. Fixer Sam Kerr (Chelsea), who had been rested with a calf injury, warmed up as a substitute for the second game in a row. The odds aren’t all bad either. Australia are the only team to have beaten Wigman’s England in the last two years (2-0 in a friendly in April). The absence of England’s ace striker Lauren James (Chelsea), who is serving a one-match ban for a sending-off in the Round of 16, will also raise expectations.

Spain’s Teresa Abeleira, of the women’s national football team, celebrates with fans after their quarter-final win over the Netherlands at the Australia-New Zealand Women’s World Cup 2023 at Wellington Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand, on Monday (Nov. 11). Wellington/Reuters

Sweden’s Filippa Angeldahl, second from right, of the Swedish women’s football team, celebrates after scoring her team’s second goal during their quarter-final match against Japan at the 2023 Australia-New Zealand Women’s World Cup at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, on Monday (11 November). Auckland/Reuters

On the other side, Spain and Sweden will face off. The Spaniards have reached their first semi-final in history after a year of turbulence, including a feud between current coach Jorge Bilda and his players and a crushing defeat against Japan (0-4). They have a number of footballing gurus who top the charts for passes, expected goals and chances created. Sweden, on the other hand, excel at one-on-one contests and organised pressing, using their size advantage to their advantage. Spain sent a desperate Japan home in the quarter-finals. Their best result was runners-up in the 2003 tournament, and they are looking to return to the top of the table after 20 years.

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