- Our team reporters identify the semi-finalists’ key players
- Defenders Bronze and Seger vital to England and Sweden
- USA and the Netherlands lean on midfielders Ertz and Groenen
Football is a team sport, and the France 2019 semi-finalists have only made it this far by functioning as cohesive units.
But not all footballers are created equal and, even in the most well-oiled football machines, there tends to be a cog more important than the others. With this in mind, FIFA.com asked our Team Reporters to single out the players that are indispensable to England, USA, the Netherlands and Sweden.
Bronze is widely considered the world’s greatest right-back, and for good reason. An overlapping, underlapping player of steel, as capable of shooting into the top corner as she is of containing the very best attackers, Bronze commands the right channel for England. Moreover, she breathes confidence into every player ahead of, behind and alongside her. The Lyon defender is in peak physical condition and exceptionally quick over both short and long distances, with her fight to return from three knee surgeries in two years now a distant memory. Her leadership is vocal, infectious and she is instrumental to ensuring coach Phil Neville’s game-plan is followed to the letter. For the Lionesses, Bronze is priceless.
While we all love the dangerous forward line of Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath, Ertz is the one player the USWNT simply could not do without. She is the backbone of the team, the glue that holds everything together and, when she isn’t there, her absence is sorely felt. Ertz is the key player in this US squad, both offensively and defensively, and spends every second of every match dedicating herself to getting the job done. The 27-year-old played as a centre-back in the 2015 Women’s World Cup-winning team but has since moved into a central midfielder role, where she has excelled. She still has the gritty, physical side to her game but also possesses the skill needed to dominate the middle of the park. Ertz’s fitness and work ethic are second to none and she is as tough as they come. This US team are lucky to have her, and they know it.
Yes, Jackie Groenen is only human. She has good and bad games like everyone else. But with happy-go-lucky attitude off the pitch, and relentless hard work and beautiful passes on it, the permanently smiling Groenen is absolutely indispensable to this Oranjeleeuwinnen squad. A former youth national champion in judo, she is never one to shy away from a tough physical battle in midfield. When the going gets tough, Jackie Groenen gets going.
Emma Coolen with the Netherlands
Sweden’s captain is also the engine of the team. She is the problem-solver who pops up to put out fires whenever the ball has been lost. Seger also has that precious ability to dictate the pace of a game, calming things down or raising the tempo depending on what’s needed. With her huge experience – almost a decade-and-a-half with the national team, including three World Cups – she’s also extremely important in helping her teammates, leading by example and saying the right things at the right time. While Sweden have several influential and talented players, Seger is undoubtedly the most important.