Underdog status suits Netherlands just fine – Wiegman

By Sports Desk July 06, 2019

Netherlands may have recorded 12 straight victories at major tournaments, but coach Sarina Wiegman knows the United States will be expected to win Sunday's Women's World Cup final.

Winners of the European Championship on home soil two years ago, Netherlands are one victory away from lifting back-to-to-back titles despite only appearing at a major tournament for the first time a decade ago.

They come up against the juggernaut of women's football in Lyon this weekend, though, with USA bidding to retain their title in their third consecutive final.

However, Wiegman has no qualms with the fact that her team are not fancied to prevail. 

"The expectation is different now," she admitted.

"The US are favourites and we're the underdog, and we're fine with that."

There has been debate about whether USA have been just confident or overly arrogant at the tournament. Their goal celebrations have irked some and England boss Phil Neville was unimpressed that two USA staff members visited his team's hotel ahead of the semi-final in case Jill Ellis' team moved in before the final.

Wiegman, who spent a year in the States during her playing career, does not consider Netherlands' next opponents as cocky, though.

"I just think America has a lot of confidence and that's okay," she said.

"They have a very good status, they have won many tournaments and are at the top level all the time.

"It's also a little part of the culture, I think. That's just the way it is."

The Dutch coach's time in North Carolina three decades ago was pivotal in her development, with Wiegman playing under future World Cup-winning coach Anson Dorrance and alongside USA internationals such as Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly.

Now she will look to use those lessons to plot the Americans' downfall.

"I learned so many things over there," added Wiegman, who revealed star forward Lieke Martens will have a late fitness test on her foot injury.

"What I picked up at the time was a huge positIvity about developing team spirit. I really felt that family feeling and I was in a top team with top coaches.

"Whether it can help me tomorrow, I'm not sure."

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