For the first time in over 20 years, there is a new reigning champion in Europe.
It was an exciting tournament from the very beginning. You could tell by the end of the Group Stage that there was a changing of the guard happening in Europe–powerhouse favorites like Germany, France, and Sweden stepped aside for countries like the Netherlands, Austria, and England. You kept asking yourself how far these countries could go, and more than anything, who was going to lift that trophy on August 6th?
The Finals matchup was set after the Netherlands shutdown the tournament’s highest scoring team, beating the English Lionesses 3-0. Earlier in the day, Denmark had continued their streak by defeating Austria in penalty kicks after a tightly contested match. It would be the first time that either of these teams made it to the European Finals, and the world waited anxiously to see how it would play out.
The excitement and importance of this match could be felt before the players even stepped foot onto the pitch. An estimated 10,000 people showed up to the “Orange Parade” before the match, dancing through the streets as they chanted their support for the home side. The Netherlands sold out their semi-final match against England, and they sold out their final as well, with over 28,000 fans filing into the stadium.
The action in the match started early. Denmark drew a penalty in the sixth minute, taken and scored by Nadia Nadim of the Portland Thorns. The Netherlands quickly countered when Vivianne Miedema scored in the 10th minute. Another goal from Lieke Martens in the 27th minute put the host nation ahead, but Denmark’s Pernille Harder slotted the equalizer just six minutes later. After much back and forth, the game calmed down, and the halftime whistle blew.
It didn’t take long for the scoring to start again, with Sherida Spitse scoring in the 51st minute for the Netherlands. Denmark tried to equalize, but their attempts failed. The Dutch attack kept pushing forward. When Miedema scored her second goal of the match in the 89th minute, victory had been secured.
Just two years ago, the Netherlands were playing in their first-ever Women’s World Cup. Now, they are the champions of Europe. The Dutch attack was fun to watch, scoring 13 goals in six matches. But the Dutch defense was equally important, earning four clean sheets in those six matches.
Where the Dutch or the Danish will go from here, no one can say for sure. But it appears that this tournament will be remembered as a turning point for European Women’s Soccer. Gone are the days of German dominance–and in their place sits something much more exciting: a brand new frontier in the European WoSo landscape.