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England and Spain have long been traditional soccer powers on the men's side. Now, their women's squads will compete for a World Cup title.
For the first time since 2007, this year's Women's World Cup will not feature the U.S.
Sunday's final will be played between two nations that have never played in a final before: Spain versus England.
Given the importance of soccer in the two nations, it might come as a bit of a surprise these two nations have never competed in the finals of the Women's World Cup. The U.S. has the most final appearances with five, with Germany just behind with three.
While England has been consistently one of the top 10 women's national teams for over a decade, Spain has had an up-and-coming program. Spain entered the Women's World Cup ranked No. 6 globally, up from No. 12 before the 2019 tournament.
Both national teams have survived close matches to reach the finals. England needed a penalty shootout in the round of 16 to defeat Nigeria. Spain required extra time to defeat Netherlands in the quarterfinals.
Alessia Russo, who spent two years playing for the University of North Carolina, explained to reporters what making the Women's World Cup finals means.
“We've been dreaming of this since we were little girls so we're excited. We'll get recovered and be ready," she said.
After Spain clinched its spot in the final with a 2-1 win over Sweden in the semifinal, England had to face Australia in a hostile environment. With a crowd of over 75,000 on hand, England scored two second-half goals to hold off host Australia 3-1.
This year's tournament has been the first to feature 32 national teams. The 2019 Women's World Cup had 24.
Coincidently, Spain and England handed the U.S. its first set of back-to-back losses since 2017. The two teams defeated the USWNT last October in a pair of friendlies.
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