It’s almost time to cheer on England in the Women’s World Cup final - and they’ve been backed to secure a historic triumph over Spain.

The inspiring Lionesses reached their first World Cup final and will play their European rivals for the trophy on Sunday after Ella Toone, Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo secured a 3-1 victory over co-hosts Australia on Wednesday. Indeed, it was arguably the best performance of the tournament so far from Sarina Wiegman’s side - and they head into the showdown with plenty of confidence.

They’ll also be boosted by the return of star striker Lauren James, who has missed the last two games for her red card in the last-16 win over Nigeria. But, will the Chelsea star immediately return to the starting XI? What about the key battles between the rivals? And who will lift the coveted trophy? **Mirror Football ** writers give their predictions ahead of the clash…

Jack Lacey-Hatton

This England side have the chance to cement themselves as one of this country’s greatest ever sports teams in Sunday’s World Cup final. Sarina Wiegman and her troops have overcome so much to get here, and I don’t think they’ll let it slip now.

Spain are a great side but they are still in a hugely complicated situation of their own and I think England’s players will be in a stronger frame of mind.

We may see clamour for Lauren James to return after her suspension, but I’d expect Ella Toone to keep her place as this team looks settled. For me England’s other Lauren will be their key player, Lauren Hemp. If she can isolate and expose Spanish centre-back Laia Codina, the Lionesses will get chances.

The other decisive battle could be between Keira Walsh and Barcelona teammate Aitana Bonmati in the midfield. We might see a Bobby Charlton-Franz Beckenbauer ‘66 scenario where the two mark each other out of the final.

The back three will also be tested like never before, but if they can hold firm I expect the Lionesses to have too much going the other way. They are the best team in the world, they just need to prove it.

Prediction: England 1-0 Spain

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Laura Hartley

This England side have - and can - prove they can overcome any obstacle in their way.

Going into a World Cup full of doubt on how well they’ll do without Euros heroes Leah Williamson, Beth Mead, Jill Scott and Ellen White - not to mention the absence of Fran Kirby too it was hard to look -past the quarter or semi-finals.

But once again, Sarina Wiegman and her coaching team have pushed these Lionesses into another dimension of footballing prowess. They have arguably faced their biggest challenges in playing in 75,000 seated stadiums with most of those fans wanting them to lose, but now they have more battles to face on the pitch against Spain.

I think Wiegman should be picking an unchanged Lionesses side for the third time in a row. It’s proved solid and successful and while Lauren James is available following suspension - I think Ella Toone is really coming into her own now on the world stage.

Win or lose, the history making Lionesses have done England so incredibly proud and have done so much for girls’ and women’s football. The question I have is - where are you Nike with Mary Earps ‘ shirt?

Prediction: England 2-1 Spain

Hannah Pinnock

Spain were one of England’s toughest tests at the Euros last year and, despite all their off-field problems, the players have performed extremely well at this tournament and deserve huge credit. I expect this matchup to be no different.

The Lionesses’ performance against co-hosts Australia has given me a renewed sense of confidence going into this final and they’ve overcome every hurdle and challenge thrown at them so far. Toone has done a fantastic job coming back into the starting line-up and I expect Wiegman to stick with the XI that started the last game.

James’ return comes as a major boost and a lot will depend on how much the England boss views James as a key player. Keira Walsh’s return after injury was a given but I don’t think James is quite at that level yet. Regardless, her as an option from the bench at least will be a huge boost for the Lionesses going into the final.

Spain, though, have their own not-so-secret weapon in Barcelona’s Salma Paralluelo. She scored crucial goals in their quarter-final win over the Netherlands and semi-final victory over Sweden. Like James, she has the ability to turn the game on its head and be a difference maker.

Prediction: England win 4-2 on penalties

John Cross

The Lionesses have already made history - and now they can go one better.

Sarina Wiegman’s team are the first England senior side to reach a World Cup final on foreign soil and it’s theirs to lose.

England will start Sunday as the favourites against Spain and I think they will win and make the nation proud again. They’ve already given us all such a lift.

It feels as if they are hitting form at the right time. Nigeria was nerve wracking, Colombia were tough but they got there in the end and the win over Australia was supremely impressive.

England saw off the hosts, frustrated the home support and played with confidence and belief. That will only strengthen the hope they can finish the job.

The big dilemma is whether to bring back Lauren James after suspension. But I fancy England to stick with a winning team and formula - especially with the form of Lauren Hemp.

Wiegman is terrific at substitutions and James could even come on with the game stretched and tired legs to make a bigger difference.

Prediction: England 2 Spain 1

Sarina Wiegman Sarina Wiegman has backed calls for an extra Bank Holiday should the Lionesses win the World Cup (


Getty Images)

Simon Bird

Sarina Wiegman’s skill is taking the emotion out of big games, and if the Lionesses follow her lead, and impose themselves with confidence, and calmness, they will win.

Ella Toone did enough with her stunning semi-final strike to justify keeping her place in the starting XI. But she seemed to flag later in the game and James can be brought on as a “finisher” after 55 minutes. However, ice-cold Wiegman may have a more ruthless choice and bring James back in.

The magic of the Lionesses is that for many English football fans, they are the only team they’ve supported that have won anything! Most fans don’t see their team win a trophy, me included, and that was my overriding thought after they won the Euros. It was the first time I’d wanted a team to win a cup, and they actually had! So thanks ladies.

I think the women’s game is already growing and strong. As a father of two girls, even six years ago it was easy to find them a team to have a go. Now clubs are growing and the women’s game is improving at all levels.

I find it as enjoyable and stressful cheering the Lionesses as I do Gareth Southgate’s side. They may not get paid the same as the more commercial men’s game, that will come with more visibility on TV, but the glory is just as intense and inspirational.

Prediction: 2-1 England win

Lauren Hemp (centre) was the star of the show in the win over Australia Lauren Hemp (centre) was the star of the show in the win over Australia (


Getty Images)

Alex Richards

England face an unquestionably tough test against a Spain side who play smart, intelligent football and have found the goal threat that ultimately cost them dear at the Euros - when dumped out, unluckily it must be said, by the Lionesses.

Jorge Vilda managed to overcome a player mutiny and has now led his side to 90 minutes of glory, with the focus among his players now only on that. As Jenni Hermoso screamed in the mixed zone after their win over Sweden: “Come on! We’re in the final of the f*****g World Cup!”

So on the face of it, they appear united again. But so are the Lionesses, who have again proven themselves to be a smart, tactically flexible side who can beat you in a variety of ways.

Much of the pre-game focus will be on Lauren James and whether she returns or not. But the key is undoubtedly the other Lauren, Hemp. She’s grown into the tournament, has been the biggest winner from the formation shift and if she can see plenty of the ball in little pockets between the lines, then she’ll either fire the side to victory or find the pass that allows a teammate to do so.

It won’t be easy, but they can deliver once again.

Prediction: England 2-1 Spain

James Whaling

This England side does things differently to what we have become accustomed to watching their male counterparts at major tournaments. They do not carry the baggage of ‘all those oh-so-nears’ and have already tasted success in the Euros at Wembley last summer.

I fully expect them to take their performance against tournament hosts Australia in the semi-finals, where they faced adversity and a hostile crowd full in the face to come out on top, and record another victory against Spain to win the World Cup.

Debate will rage as to whether Lauren James should come back in to the XI but, despite her imperious form in the early part of the tournament, Sarina Wiegman has been very consistent in her team selections since taking the Lionesses job and I would expect her to keep faith with the same team that got the better of the Matildas.

It goes without saying that victory would be huge for the women’s game on these shores. It could even spark a dynasty-like period of elongated success and rubber-stamp England alongside the US as the leading lights of women’s football worldwide. That pressure might get to some sides, but not this group.

Prediction: England 3-1 Spain

England Women’s away kit

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Felix Keith

England will go into Sunday’s final brimming with confidence. They have faced adversity at every stage during the tournament so far, which has only made them stronger.

It has been mentioned at every turn, but is worth reiterating: the unity fostered by Sarina Wiegman is absolutely key to their success and will make a world of difference. They have everything they need to win the tournament; the innate confidence surrounding the side means England expects.

The Lionesses beat Spain 2-1 on the way to winning the Euros last summer, so know they can do it again. Crucially, in Barcelona stars Lucy Bronze and Keira Walsh, they have two insiders with intimate knowledge of their opposition.

Spain are likely to have the majority of possession, which will require an adaptation from the Australia game, but in Alessia Russo and Lauren Hemp, England have two in-form strikers who offer a major threat on the break.

After much tinkering, Wiegman has landed on a balanced and organised starting XI. Ella Toone should keep her place and I would be surprised if she changed tack to start Lauren James. Instead, the dynamic Chelsea attacker can be used as a weapon off the bench.

Prediction: England 2-1 Spain

Lauren James was sent off against Nigeria Lauren James was sent off against Nigeria (


FIFA via Getty Images)

**_What are you most looking forward to in the Women’s World Cup final?Share your thoughts in the comments below _ **

Liam Prenderville

Lauren James was England’s leading light in the group stages but I think she will have to bide her time on the bench in Sunday’s final. Sarina Wiegman has settled on a 3-5-2 formation and Lauren Hemp more than deserves to keep her spot alongside Alessia Russo after her semi-final display.

Wiegman faces a big call but I cannot see the Lionesses boss tweaking the system just to accommodate the Chelsea star. Spain will be a tough nut to crack and having someone from the bench with James’ ability could ultimately make all the difference.

It will be nervy and I wouldn’t be surprised if it went to extra time just like the Euros did last summer, but I can’t see anything other than England emerging victorious.

Prediction: England 2-1 Spain AET

Tom Blow

Make sure your nails are long, because this has all the makings of a classic nerve-shredder.

England are the best team in the world - even without the injured Leah Williamson, Beth Mead and Fran Kirby - but Spain are blessed with plenty of Champions League winners. The competitiveness between these two teams was evident when the Lionesses needed a late equaliser and extra-time to knock Spain out of the Euros last summer. I’m backing England to win, but this final could go either way.

Sarina Wiegman should resist the temptation of recalling Lauren James and name an unchanged XI. Ella Toone was terrific in that No.10 role against Colombia and Australia… she deserves to play.

The opposite should be said about James after her silly stamp against Nigeria. Yet there’s no doubting the Chelsea star’s talent. She’s previously been described as England’s “cheat code” and Wiegman should remember that. If England need a late goal, introduce James from the bench.

A victory for the Lionesses would obviously be massive for the women’s game in England, but Spain are in the same boat. The focus should be about growing the women’s game globally and having professional leagues in every country. Whatever happens, it promises to be a brilliant occasion.

Prediction: England 1-0 Spain

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