Women's World Cup 2019

Underdog tag suits Dutch fine for final

Netherlands players celebrating after the final whistle in their 1-0 semi-final win over Sweden. The Dutch, in the Women's World Cup final for the first time, are happy to play underdogs to the United States' favourites status.
Netherlands players celebrating after the final whistle in their 1-0 semi-final win over Sweden. The Dutch, in the Women's World Cup final for the first time, are happy to play underdogs to the United States' favourites status. PHOTO: DPA

Van de Donk believes Europe's best will make world champs US pay price for complacency

PARIS • Danielle van de Donk believes the Netherlands will be underestimated by the United States in tomorrow's Women's World Cup final and says she is relishing their underdog status in Lyon.

The Dutch side will take on the three-time champions at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais and van de Donk insisted that her team will not be overawed by their more celebrated opponents.

"I love being underdogs, I think it's the best role you can be in," the midfielder said. "I don't know the English word, but I don't think they think we're that good.

"Underestimate? Yes, that's it. I think that is going to be an advantage for us."

European champions Netherlands struggled to qualify for this tournament, doing so via the play-offs, but are now in their second consecutive major final, at only their second World Cup.

It has been an impressive rise for a nation that established a domestic women's league only in 2007.

AMERICAN ARROGANCE

I love being underdogs, I think it's the best role you can be in. I don't know the English word, but I don't think they think we're that good. Underestimate? Yes, that's it. I think that is going to be an advantage for us. We are European champions, not just anyone.

DANIELLE VAN DE DONK, Netherlands midfielder.

Sarina Wiegman's side have shown they can find the extra gear when needed and have won each of their six matches in the tournament, scoring 11 goals and conceding just three in the process.

"We are European champions, not just anyone," van de Donk said.

"I'm very proud of the team, I'm very proud of the Netherlands and I think we came this far as well because we have such amazing support all the time."

Standing in their way are a formidable US side in a first meeting of the world and European champions in the final.

They have Alex Morgan, the tournament's joint-top scorer on six goals with England's Ellen White, and Megan Rapinoe, who is just one goal behind and also in the chase for the Golden Boot.

With Morgan controversially sipping tea in celebration of her goal against England, can van de Donk think of a celebration that the American forward might use?

"I don't think she's going to score against us," she said with a laugh.

"We're going to prove ourselves and show them what we've got. We might surprise them."

Van de Donk's teammate Dominique Bloodworth said the Dutch have shown they are unfazed by challenges, having played Italy in scorching 3pm heat in Valenciennes and then a sticky 120 minutes in Lyon against Sweden in the semi-finals.

"The tournament has been long, the season has been long for a lot of players," said the centre back.

"You can tell that players are getting tired but, at the end, it's going to be a mental game and giving it a little extra. Hopefully, we can do something great on Sunday."

She added of the US: "We all know they are very confident, but we are also very confident."

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2019, with the headline 'Underdog tag suits Dutch fine for final'. Print Edition | Subscribe