Women’s World Cup: Vivianne Miedema says Netherlands ‘did not expect’ to be in semi-final

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European champions the Netherlands “did not expect” to be in the semi-finals of the World Cup, says Vivianne Miedema.

The Dutch have reached the last four for the first time and face 2003 finalists Sweden in Lyon on Wednesday.

“We have done amazing and we can be really proud,” said striker Miedema, who has scored three goals including one in the last-eight win over Italy.

The winners will face either holders the United States or England in the final at the same venue on Sunday.

Arsenal’s Miedema, 22, has taken her tally to 61 international goals during the tournament to become her country’s all-time top scorer.

She scored 31 goals in 28 games in all competitions last season and collected the PFA Player of the Year award as Arsenal won the Women’s Super League title.

The Netherlands’ spine of Miedema, midfielder Danielle van de Donk, centre-back Dominique Bloodworth and goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal all played for the Gunners last season, though the latter two left the club at the end of the campaign.

Miedema added: “Obviously it is really easy because we have been playing together for two years. We play as goalie, centre-back, number 10 and me and it is the same at Arsenal so you get to know each other a lot better.

“I just need to look at Dominique Bloodworth and I know where she is going to play the ball. It is the same with DVD (Van de Donk), we just have that connection. It helps me a lot and it helps our team a lot, and I am happy that we have got that.

“We have been complaining a lot that we have not played the best football but in the end we are in the semis.”

Netherlands ‘one of my favourite footballing countries’

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Sweden are aiming to reach their second final after being beaten 2-1 after extra time by Germany 16 years ago in California.

They took revenge this year with a shock quarter-final victory over the Germans, who were heavily fancied to progress to the final.

The Swedes come up against a Netherlands side that have won their past 11 games at a major tournament having triumphed at the Euros at home two years ago.

Sweden manager Peter Gerhardsson says he studied in Rotterdam and called the Netherlands “one of my favourite countries when it comes to football”.

“I could talk at length about Holland,” he said. “In 1974, when I was 15 and I watched Holland v West Germany [in the men’s World Cup final], that was one of the greatest footballing experiences of my life.

“And from that World Cup final I have always been incredibly fascinated by Dutch football – Johan Cruyff and everyone.

“I was there throughout the European Cup (Euro 2017) and seeing that final between the Netherlands and Denmark, that was amazing because that football that was played in that final was very close to our ideal.

“It is going to be an incredibly cool semi-final and it’s going to be fun to see if we can beat one of my favourite countries when it comes to football.”

Dutch set-piece specialists – the stats

  • Netherlands are unbeaten in the past three meetings between the sides, winning two of those.
  • Netherlands knocked Sweden out of Euro 2017, winning 2-0 in the quarter-finals with goals from Lieke Martens and Vivianne Miedema.
  • This is Sweden’s fourth World Cup semi-final – only USA (eight) and Germany (five) have reached more.
  • Sweden have won four of their five matches in the tournament – they did not win any of their four matches in 2015.
  • Sweden have had eight different goalscorers at the World Cup so far – the joint-most of any side with USA.
  • Six of the Netherlands’ past eight World Cup goals have come from set-pieces.
  • Eight of the Netherlands’ 10 goals at the World Cup have come in the second half.
  • All five of the Netherlands’ wins at the 2019 tournament have come against sides from different confederations

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