England head coach Sarina Wiegman and Spain boss Jorge Vilda will lead their teams into the World Cup final in Sydney on Sunday.
Here, the PA news agency takes a closer look at the two coaches.
Dutch courage brings England Euro joy
Sarina Wiegman guided England to success at Euro 2022 (Steve Parsons/PA)
Having guided her native Netherlands to success at Euro 2017 and then on into final of the 2019 World Cup, where they lost to the United States, Wiegman took over the Lionesses in September 2021. Wiegman, a former captain of the Dutch national team during her playing career who also worked as a PE teacher, went on to lead England to Euro 2022 glory on home soil with victory over Germany at Wembley last summer. The only defeat of Wiegman’s tenure so far came in a friendly against Australia at Brentford in April – and England fans will be hoping her impressive run continues on Sunday.
Vilda steadies ship after player unrest
Jorge Vilda, left, has brought the squad together following a difficult spell (Alessandra Tarantino/AP)
Vilda had spells in the youth set-ups at both Real Madrid and Barcelona but saw his dreams of a playing career cut short by two major knee injuries when he was 17. Having moved into a coaching role at CD Canillas in Madrid, Vilda held assistant roles with Spain’s Under-17s and Under-19s, enjoying success in their European Championship and World Cup campaigns. He was appointed senior head coach of the women’s national team in 2015, taking them into the Euro 2017 quarter-finals and also the World Cup, where they reached the last 16. Following Euro 2022, where La Roja were beaten by hosts England in the quarter-finals, a group of 15 players threatened to quit if Vilda remained in his position, claiming his regime was affecting their “health” and “emotional state”. He, though, was backed by the Spanish Football Federation, with the players subsequently frozen out of his squad, before some returned to the fold for the World Cup, including Aitana Bonmati, Ona Batlle and Mariona Caldentey.
Same again for Lionesses?
Wiegman named an unchanged side for the 3-1 semi-final win over against Australia. Her faith proved well-founded as England stepped up to the challenge of restricting the counter-attacking threat of the Matildas, although there was little the well-drilled defence could do to prevent Sam Kerr crashing in a fine 25-yard equaliser. England had plenty of possession against Australia, particularly in the first half, and will certainly need to show similar bravery in their challenges against the Spaniards. Some ruthless finishing saw Ella Toone, Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo strike against the co-hosts – and more of the same will be needed in the final when clear chances are expected to be at a premium. Chelsea forward Lauren James will be available again following a two-game ban following her red card in the last-16 win over Nigeria, handing a potential selection headache for Wiegman.
La Roja’s own ‘Total Football’
Spain head coach Jorge Vilda plays a possession-based game (Alessandra Tarantino/AP)
Vilda grew up steeped in Johan Cruyff’s football philosophy, with his father Angel having worked as the late Dutchman’s fitness trainer at Barcelona. Based around a 4-3-3 possession-based game, Vilda wants his team to play with a distinctly recognisable style. That belief never waivered as Spain bounced back from a 4-0 humbling by Group C winners Japan to thrash Switzerland 5-1 as they booked a place in the last eight, then went on to beat the Netherlands after extra-time before defeating Sweden in Auckland. England should expect to face high-tempo passing and movement as well as a relentless press in attack. Alexia Putellas, twice a Ballon d’Or winner, continues to be used sparingly in the tournament, having worked her way back from an ACL injury which ruled her out of Euro 2022. Nineteen-year-old Salma Paralluelo came off the bench to open the scoring in the semi-final against Sweden.