fifa wc 2023 women’s – Spain v England | Sunday 20 August | Stadium Australia, Sydney / Wangal

The match

Both teams have reached the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ final for the first time and England will be seeking to complete a memorable tournament double following last year’s UEFA Women’s EURO triumph.


En route to winning on home soil last year, Sarina Wiegman’s side overcame Spain in the quarter-finals, with England coming from behind to win 2-1 in extra time thanks to Georgia Stanway’s stunning 20-yard drive.

The Lionesses came through the group stage with a perfect record, posting 1-0 wins over Haiti and Denmark before overpowering China PR 6-1 following a stunning performance from Lauren James.

In the Round-of-16 tie against Nigeria, though, James was sent off late on in normal time for stamping on Michelle Alozie. England saw out extra time to draw 0-0 before prevailing 4-2 in a penalty shootout, with Chloe Kelly emphatically scoring the clinching spot-kick.


With James suspended, England came from behind to edge out Colombia 2-1 in the quarter-finals before Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo, the goalscorers in the last eight, also struck in a thrilling 3-1 win over co-hosts Australia to maintain Wiegman’s 100 per cent record of reaching major tournament finals.

Spain’s route to the final started with a pair of comfortable wins as they beat Costa Rica 3-0 and Zambia 5-0 before suffering a 4-0 defeat by Japan in a game that decided who topped Group C.

Jorge Vilda’s side shrugged off that setback to dismantle Switzerland 5-1 in the Round of 16 before Salma Paralluelo scored an extra-time winner to see off the Netherlands 2-1 in the quarter-finals after the Dutch side had scored an added-time equaliser.


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In the semi-finals, Spain struggled to break down a resolute Sweden defence until Paralluelo’s introduction as a substitute prompted a flurry of action in the final 10 minutes. Paralluelo gave Spain the lead before Sweden equalised with two minutes left only for captain Olga Carmona to instantly respond with a thumping strike which sent her team into the Women’s World Cup final for the first time.

Team news

The main decision facing England coach Wiegman revolves around whether to bring James back into the starting line-up now that the Chelsea player is free from suspension.

James impressed in the group-stage wins over Denmark and China but was well shackled by Nigeria before her red card. However, the way Spain play would appear more likely to afford James the space to pose problems if she is recalled to the team.

Ella Toone was brought back into the team in place of James for the Colombia game and after scoring the opening goal against Australia, she will be hoping to retain her place, especially with Wiegman having named the same starting XI for the last two matches.

Wiegman will also have to decide whether to stick with the wing-back system which has served England well since the change was made ahead of the China game.


Like Wiegman, Spain coach Vilda has a similar decision around whether to bring a player capable of causing panic in the opposition defence back into the starting line-up.

Teenage winger Paralluelo started the opening four games of the tournament but was introduced to decisive effect as a substitute in the knockout-stage wins over the Netherlands and Sweden.

Paralluelo scored the winner against the Netherlands and then broke the deadlock against Sweden, with her pace and direct running capable of putting England’s defenders on the back foot.

Another key decision for Vilda will be whether to retain Alexia Putellas in the starting line-up. Putellas started the semi-final against Sweden before being replaced by Paralluelo.

Players to watch

Salma Paralluelo (Spain) Whether Paralluelo starts the game or is introduced as a substitute, it feels highly likely that the Barcelona winger will have some sort of influence on the final. A club team-mate of England defender Lucy Bronze, it will be a fascinating battle if the two come up against each other in the final. If England stick with playing three central defenders, then Paralluelo’s pace has the potential to exploit any gaps in the channel when Bronze ventures forward and she has already shown a clinical touch when presented with opportunities in front of goal.


Lauren Hemp (England) Manchester City forward Hemp has grown into the tournament and her direct running and pace will keep Spain’s defenders on their toes. Hemp scored the equaliser in the quarter-final against Colombia and then restored England’s lead against Australia when her presence unsettled the Matildas’ defence from Millie Bright’s long pass before she showed composure to slot the ball past Mackenzie Arnold. With Spain likely to seek control of possession and showing vulnerabilities to counter-attacks, Hemp will have a key role to play for the Lionesses.

Facts and Figures

  • England’s 13-goal haul at this year’s finals has seen them equal their record tally in the competition, which they achieved at the 2019 tournament.

  • Sarina Wiegman is the first coach to have led two different nations to the FIFA Women’s World Cup final.

  • This is the first time since the inaugural instalment in 1991 that the FIFA Women’s World Cup final will be contested by two teams that have never previously featured in the tournament decider.

  • Germany are the only nation to have won both the FIFA World Cup™ and the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Spain or England will match that achievement.


“We’re in the World Cup final. The World Cup final. It’s unbelievable. It’s a very special moment. It’s an incredible feeling for all of us. Some of us are very lucky. We’ve won two Champions Leagues with Barcelona. We’ve played at Camp Nou many times. We have the record crowd – 90,000 people came to see us play. We’ve played in many big games with big crowds, great atmospheres. But playing a World Cup final in front of 75,000, it will be crazy. I can’t believe it’s going to happen. Am I in a dream? To play in a World Cup final is already very special, but this will be on another level. This tournament has been amazing for women’s football. The standard of football, the great games, the atmospheres. To get the chance to play in the final is something we’ve dreamed about for so long.” Aitana Bonmati, Spain


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