So near yet still so far for European pair
One ticket for France 2019 still to be claimed in Europe
The Netherlands and Switzerland vying to claim it in a two-legged play-off on 9 and 13 November
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The Netherlands and Switzerland have such good memories of making their FIFA Women’s World Cup debuts at Canada 2015 that they are dreaming of just one thing: making the speediest possible return to the world finals stage, at France 2019.
The problem is, only one of them will be making the trip, following the UEFA Zone play-off final that pits the two sides against each other and which gets under way with the first leg on 9 November.
First leg: The Netherlands-Switzerland, 9 November, 20.00 (local time), Galgenwaard Stadium (Utrecht) Second leg: Switzerland-The Netherlands, 13 November, 19.00 (local time), LIPO Park (Schaffhouse)
How they got here
Second in Groups B and C respectively, Switzerland and the Netherlands missed out on a direct ticket to France, but ended among the four best second-placed teams, which ensured them places in the play-offs.
Switzerland had to fight hard in edging out Belgium in the semi-finals, going through on the away-goals rule after drawing 2-2 away and then 1-1 at home. Oranje Leeuwinnen had no such problems against Denmark, winning the first leg on home soil 2-0 and then earning a 2-1 victory in the return tie.
In qualifying for Canada 2015, the Dutch also went through the play-offs, beating Italy in the final.
Regardless of the play-off final result, Switzerland coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg will be leaving La Nati to take charge of Germany.
The Swiss will have to make do without two key players: the injured Lara Dickenmann, and Ramona Bachmann, who is suspended for the first leg.
Netherlands coach Sarina Wiegmann was named The Best FIFA Women’s Coach in 2017 and was a finalist for this year’s award.
Switzerland and the Netherlands both reached the Round of 16 on their world finals debuts in 2015.
The two teams have met five times before, with the Swiss yet to record a win in the fixture (two defeats and three draws).
Central characters have their say: Vivianne Miedema (NED) and Martina Voss-Tecklenburg (SUI)