Sarina Wiegman: Belief behind Netherlands' transformation

Though it only played at its first major tournament a decade ago, Netherlands is one win away from back-to-back titles.

Netherlands' players celebrate after winning the semifinal on Wednesday night. Photo: AP

Sarina Wiegman said Netherlands' run to back-to-back finals at major tournaments is down to its belief after the Euro 2017 champion beat Sweden in the Women's World Cup semifinals.

An extra-time goal from Jackie Groenen earned Netherlands a gritty 1-0 victory — its 12th in a row at finals — as Wiegman's team advanced to Sunday's World Cup final in Lyon, where it will face the United States. Netherlands had never participated in a major tournament until a decade ago but is the last of seven European quarterfinalists still standing in France.

Wiegman noted the formation of a women's domestic league in 2007 was key to its transformation and also said that players like Arsenal striker Vivianne Miedema and Barcelona forward Lieke Martens now have confidence they can beat the world's very best.

 

"I think the potential has been in the Netherlands for a longer period of time but the facilities weren't there," Wiegman said at her post-match news conference.

"And since 2007 when the Eredivisie started and players got better facilities and could train more, the players developed so much they improved. Then when you are at big tournaments like European Championships and World Cups, then they develop even more.

"They made transfers to big clubs in Europe. It's the whole development in the Netherlands and the individuals that make bigger steps.

"Now most of the players have been in a couple of tournaments so they are very experienced now too. They believe they can perform really and belief is one of the things that makes things happen."