Women’s World Cup Best XI of the Tournament
As the 2019 Women’s World Cup has come to an end Alasdair Hooper names his team of the tournament.
Sari van Veenendaal, Netherlands (GK)
The rightful winner of the tournament’s Golden Glove award, the former Arsenal goalkeeper was as solid as you can be in the net.
Much has been made of the fact that she is currently without a club, but surely there will be no shortage of suitors now.
She made a number of impressive saves in the tournament – particularly in the final – and kept clean sheets against Sweden, Italy and also against New Zealand.
She may have decided to leave Arsenal in search of first-team football but now the 29-year-old has given herself the best chance of starting for a top club yet again.
Lucy Bronze, England (RB)
It takes some doing for a defender to come second in the World Cup player of the tournament rankings.
But England’s Lucy Bronze showed us yet again why she is one of the best players out there regardless of her position.
Her highlight came as she thundered in the third goal against Norway for England, but throughout the Lionesses’ run her athleticism and consistency stood out.
She didn’t miss a minute of the competition in France and also contributed two assists.
Another fine showing from the Lyon full-back.
Nilla Fischer, Sweden (CB)
The Swedish defender used every ounce of her experience as the side went on to win bronze at France 2019.
With 182 caps to her name, the Wolfsburg player knows exactly what it takes to perform at this stage.
Sweden’s success was largely based around their defensive solidity – that game against Germany is a key example – and Fischer’s leadership both on and off the pitch showcased her importance.
Stefanie van der Gragt, Netherlands (CB)
Despite giving away the crucial penalty in the final, Barcelona’s van der Gragt enjoyed a strong tournament.
With the attacking talent the Dutch possess not clicking as often as they would have liked the defence had to step up.
Thankfully with the likes of van der Gragt and van Veenendaal they managed to do that in the most part until they were undone by the USA.
Crystal Dunn, USA (LB)
Is Crystal Dunn now officially the most versatile player around right now? Quite possibly.
The one-time forward has slotted in seamlessly at left-back and successfully nullified the threats that came her way.
Whether it was the fearsome English right-flank, or the pace of the French, the former Chelsea player coped incredibly.
The 27-year-old played in all bar one game and will come away with even more praise than she had before.
Sherida Spitse, Netherlands (CDM)
The Netherlands’ all-time record appearance holder was another player who used all her experience at this level.
Spitse’s contribution in the middle of the park helped set her team on to the final, but it was her delivery that also proved essential.
Her four assists all came from set-pieces, which proved to be a vital way to goal for the runners-up.
But her leadership and knowhow in midfield also earns her a place in this line-up.
Danielle van de Donk, Netherlands (CM)
It’s no secret what a talent Arsenal’s van de Donk is and now the rest of the world knows it for certain.
The Dutch midfield maestro was so often the one to get the team clicking and her passing is a step above the rest.
While there were no goals or assists for the number 10, her crucial passes were often the ones to set teammates on their way.
Rose Lavelle, USA (CM)
The 24-year-old’s mazy run and neat finish in the final summed up just what a tournament she has had – it has been incredible.
Lavelle’s performances earned her the bronze ball (although it maybe should have been gold) and she quickly announced herself as the driving force in the USA midfield with three goals in total.
After only making her international debut in 2017 there is still plenty more for this 24-year-old to achieve and, if she is this good already, think of what there is to come.
Embed from Getty Images
Kosovare Asllani, Sweden (RW)
The Swedish attacker was the key spark in a Sweden team that would rely on their defensive strengths.
Every so often you do have to score a goal and Asllani managed to grab three in this tournament.
That was the most by a Swedish player in a single tournament since Lisa Dahlkvist also scored three in 2011.
But away from the goals and the creative spark the forward’s work rate also proved crucial as her country beat England to third.
Ellen White, England (ST)
Just think of what might have been for Ellen White.
Of all the goals disallowed by VAR at this World Cup, 40 per cent of them were for the England striker – yet she still scored six.
Put simply, White hit the form of her life on the international stage at this tournament and became undroppable.
Her work rate was on another level as was the way she would stick away chance after chance for the Lionesses.
As she gets ready for a new start at Manchester City her confidence will be sky high following her summer.
Megan Rapinoe, USA (LW)
This was Megan Rapinoe’s World Cup. The soundbites, the performances, the charisma and the narrative.
The American winger has owned the stage on and off the field.
Rapinoe became the first player to score a penalty in a World Cup final, became the oldest player to score in a World Cup final and she won the Golden Ball and Golden Boot awards.
She also managed to successfully prod the President of the United States into a Twitter outburst all while furthering her cause as a campaigner and spokesperson.
Not bad for a month’s work…
Follow Alasdair on Twitter at @adjhooper1992
So in analyzing your WC XI, I note that all players chosen are from the final four. I understand that rationale, although a case could be made for Henry. So let’s use your breakdown formula:
Four (4) players from the Netherlands, three (3) from the USA, two (2) from Sweden, and two (2) from England. Considering that Holland had 2 midfielders in your 4-3-3 formation, plus 1 Centreback and the GK, one wonders why they did not out-rightly win the bloody tournament as they had 1 1/2 world class forwards (Maartens was injured) playing for them as well.
The backline of the Dutch was generally overrated with their GK bailing them in most critical situations, particularly versus Japan (xG Allowed score: 1.70) and the USA (xG Allowed Score 1.75) Even Sweden overwhelmed them in the first half of their semi. So an average 1.30 xG is certainly not considered stellar at this level. Comparatively, the USA had a 0.61 xG speaks volumes about the performances of both teams. Specifically, I am not suggesting van der Gragt did not play well but I would argue that Dahlkemper was the better performer by a wide margin.
I am a firm believer in he old adage that strikers score great goals, but the best midfield wins championships. There is no question that the USA had that with their midfield during the entire seven games. Not questioning your choice of Spitse, although her performance stats show that after Italy and Japan, she dropped to an “expected” level against Sweden and the USA. Where I am gob-smacked is your other Dutch choice in van de Donk. Yes she was very good against New Zealand and did well against Sweden, but the final was not her best moment. One could place the onus on the tactical scheme devised by Wiegmann, but frankly she recognized what her team was up against. And if there was any indicator, after the US went ahead by 2 goals and when the Dutch tried to play catch up, their weaknesses came across especially in the midfield.
There are some frankly shocking selections you’ve made, if I’m being honest. Ertz was definitely better than Spitse throughout the entire tournament and was a major reason the US won this competition. She should have been the CDM selection. Also, this selection of Van der Gragt is quite poor. She had a decent tournament besides the major mistake against the US but Bloodworth was by far the better center half this tournament. Was an absolute shame that she was forced into left fullback for the final to address the Dutch weakness in that area of the pitch, and she handled Tobin for large portions of that game, even while not playing her stronger position in my opinion. I don’t have major issues with the rest of the selection although I did feel like DVD was quite pedestrian during the final and generally was outplayed but that might be due to tiredness more than anything else.
Ertz was easily the best defensive mid in the tourney.
No question that Ertz was the best defensive mid in the tourney.