Star Dutch forward Miedema talks about the team's historic success
"I think we surprised everyone by going this far, including ourselves"
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For Vivianne Miedema, beating Italy and reaching the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ semi-finals was not only about achieving an historic feat for The Netherlands, it was about so much more for her.
From a young age, the Hoogeveen-born attacker had dreams of competing on one of the world’s biggest stages in sports: the Olympic Games. However, even the idea that this would be possible as a female footballer is something she didn’t even consider an option until recently.
"Whenever I watched the Olympics, all I saw was disciplines like athletics, tennis and swimming," Miedema told FIFA.com. "Because reaching the Olympics was my ultimate goal, I tried all of these sports. I enjoyed some, but loved none of them like I loved football. So, in the end, I just made peace with the fact I would never compete at the Olympics."
Talking about her team’s already-historic run at this year’s World Cup, the Arsenal striker is both honest and modest.
"I think the pressure is off now," Miedema said. "We came here to do better than four years ago, when we reached the last 16, and to get a ticket for the Olympic tournament in Tokyo next year. We never thought it would take reaching the semi-finals to be among the best three European teams, but that makes being there even more amazing. I think we surprised everyone by going this far. Including ourselves."
Miedema’s three goals in the tournament so far have played a big role in the success of the Oranjeleeuwinnen. Her second one in their Group E game against Cameroon, which ended in a 3-1 win for the Dutch, was her 60th for the senior national team, making her the all-time top goalscorer for The Netherlands at just 22 years of age.
Now that she's on the verge of playing in a World Cup semi-final against an experienced, tightly-knit defensive Swedish unit, Miedema finally feels like the tournament can begin for the Dutch.
"We talked a lot about not playing our best football in the first couple of games here," she said. "But I think the problem was that we didn’t really have the chance to properly enjoy ourselves on the pitch."
The 22-year-old is mostly referring to the pressure on the Dutch team, especially from fans and the media back home in The Netherlands.
"The main feeling with people back home was, ‘Oh, those girls will just go to France to pick up that cup.’ As European Champions, of course you have higher expectations on you. But we as a team never saw it that way. We are very happy with what we’ve achieved so far, but for us, the journey is not over. We’ve gotten so close, and we’ve finally got back into that flow that we had during the Euros. Now, all we want is to make it to that final."
And with the pressure being off the shoulders of the Oranjeleeuwinnen, they might be able to finally show the world the football they know they’re capable of playing. If that happens in the semi-final against Sweden, who knows where this year’s adventure ends for the Orange Lionesses. And with that ticket to Tokyo 2020 and the title of being the all-time Dutch goalscorer already in her pocket, Miedema is more than likely to be one of the shining stars during one of the biggest matches of her life.
Additional tickets are on sale for the semi-final between The Netherlands and Sweden in Lyon, on 3 July. Make sure to check the ticketing platform regularly for any updates.