It was only this past winter that we watched Lionel Messi lead Argentina to its third World Cup title. The victory, the country's first since 1986, set off wild celebrations in Buenos Aires and cemented the legacy of a player that many think is the greatest of all time.
And this weekend, it will be another country's chance to party.
That is because this Sunday is the final of the 2023 Women's World Cup. And though it will be happening quite early in the morning in these parts (6:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time/3:00 a.m. Pacific Time), it should be quite a show.
The competing nations are Spain and England—this is exciting as it will be the first Women's World Cup for both nations!
Who has the edge? Spain
Both of these nations have reached this final on the back of hard work and an incredible team game.
Though Spain suffered a humbling 4–0 loss to Japan during the group stage, they also handed out impressive multi-goal victories over Zambia, Costa Rica, and Switzerland. In those games, they were lightning quick and nearly impossible to stop.
Their wins in the quarterfinal (against Netherlands) and semifinal (against Sweden) were both much closer games, each ending 2–1. In fact, the semifinal was scoreless until a stunning three goals were scored in the last ten minutes—"Spain leads! No wait, Sweden ties it! Hold on, Spain leads again!"
But in each case, Spain did what they needed to do. They stayed strong and used their balanced scoring to get that one last goal.
If they can do it one more time, they'll be world champions.
Meanwhile, the Lionesses of England came into this World Cup on a real high note. They won the last European Championships. With star forward Lauren James leading the charge, many picked them to go all the way. And after beating co-hosts Australia 3–1 just this morning, they are one step closer to doing just that.
It was a heartbreaking scene for a packed stadium of Australian fans, who almost saw their heroes reach the summit. (Though they did get to see Sam Kerr return from injury to score a wonder goal.) But England won't mind breaking a few Aussie hearts. They know what it feels like.
This was their own third straight World Cup semifinal. They had lost the previous two. And now, after knocking on the door for so long, they are through to the final. Will they be able to add a World Cup trophy to the European one they captured in 2022?
The women's game is growing
As we get ready to say goodbye to this tournament, one of the coolest thing about the 2023 WWC is how tight the competition has been. The women's game is growing big time!
For a long time, women's football was all about the same teams over and over again. The United States were extremely dominant, having won four of the eight previous World Cups, including the last two. Germany had won two previous Cups and also came into the tournament with high expectations.
But instead, both teams were eliminated quite early on. So was defending Olympic champion Canada, who were certainly disappointed in their showing.
In their place were a handful of thrilling upstarts. South Africa, Colombia, Nigeria, and Morocco were just some of the countries that shocked the experts and thrilled soccer fans around the world. One of the best of this group is Colombian superstar-in-the-making Linda Caicedo. Here's her scoring a wonder goal against that top-ranked German team (whom they beat, by the way).