Women’s World Cup: Things you may have missed from the semi-finals

This is it – the final throes of the competition are upon us and only two games remain of this summer’s showpiece remain.

The players have produced what we hope will be called ‘watershed moments’ in the future during a tournament that has produced endless entertainment for fans old and new.

A record TV audience of just under 12 million viewers tuned it to see England’s semi-final defeat to USA and the internet has not stopped humming since the final whistle.

The USA are a huge 1/5 favourite to win the World Cup, while the Netherlands are at 7/2 according to mytopsportsbooks.com.

The Dutch have capitalised well on their opportunities in the tournament, but are a bit lucky to be here.

In-game odds for their semi-final against Sweden actually saw the Netherlands move from favourite to underdog as the Swedes gradually started to control the game, winding up with 12 corners to the Netherlands’ three.

They were also a crossbar away from falling behind against Japan in the 79th minute during the Round of 16.

The USWNT, meanwhile, has already ousted host France and a strong English side in convincing fashion.

The USA will hoist the trophy, likely with a 2-0 win.

Tom Dean takes a look at what you may have missed from the semi-finals.

Confidence or arrogance?

There can be no question marks over the positive impact Alex Morgan has had on women’s football since making her debut for the USWNT back in 2010.

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But her ultimately decisive goal in the semi-final win over England won’t have won her too many additional fans on this side of the Atlantic and her antics off the ball hasn’t done her any favours either.

The image of Morgan sipping a cup of tea in celebration of her goal became an instant social media monster and started a debate that leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

Some fans saw the gesture as a mark of disrespect while others were more inclined to see the funny side – after all it was her birthday and had Ellen White been pulling the goggles out at the other end it is doubtful that the Americans would have got much sympathy from us.

Morgan and her teammates have had to defend themselves against accusations of arrogance during the tournament but has it just been their confidence manifesting all along?

Either way there is no use crying over spilt milk (or tea) now.

The golden boot race is still wide open

The race for the golden boot award is till well and truly on with Morgan and Ellen White currently level on 6 goals and Megan Rapinoe just one goal behind them.

White has already become England’s highest ever female goalscorer at World Cups and may well feel as though much of the shine has taken off the award given what happened in Lyon.

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For Morgan and Rapinoe the stakes have never been higher as they both bid to become the first American to win the award since Michelle Akers in 1991.

A bizarre turn of events saw Rapinoe miss out on the chance to add to her tally in the semi-final and gave her teammate the perfect opportunity to move into pole position while Vivianne Miedema was unable to bring herself into contention during the semi-finals.

If players are tied for number of goals scored at the end of the tournament then assists will be taken into consideration and with the two Americans currently level on three each, minutes/goals ratio could even come into he equation.

The Netherlands actually changed their team

If there has ever been a case to be made for ‘knowing your best XI’ then it has been Sarina Weigman at this tournament.

And the Dutch head coach had seemed hell bent on sticking to it until she eventually brought Lineth Beerensteyn into the starting line up for the semi-final win over Sweden.

Beerensteyn replaced Shanice van de Sanden who had previously started alongside Vivianne Miedema and Lieke Martens in a three-pronged attack in every game so far.

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And behind them the story has been the same with Danielle van de Donk, Sherida Spitse and semi-final hero Jackie Groenen all ever present in Weigman’s side.

There has were some minor alterations in the back four during the group stages but former player turned manager has since settled on the same back four in every knockout game and seen her side concede only once in those three games.

Lindahl the legend

Sweden’s most capped goalkeeper of all time was appearing in her 12th major competition for the national team and her final World Cup game in the semi-final defeat to the Netherlands.

And at 36 years of age, and with more than 150 caps to her name, she proved that she still had all the hallmarks of a world-class shot-stopper.

A heroic penalty save against Canada set up a quarter-final with Italy and the Netherlands needed extra-time to breach her defences during the semi-final with Lindahl producing one of the saves of the tournament from Miedema.

Such is her dedication to the national team, she underwent double hip surgery to get fit for the 2015 World Cup and has played the entirety of her career while suffering from the rare skin condition vitiligo.

Lindahl will leave Chelsea this summer after four years service with two FA WSL and two FA. Cup medals to add to her Olympic silver medal from 2016 and World Cup bronze from 2011.

You can follow Tom on Twitter @tombendean

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