Dutch striker, Vivianne Miedema, is in contention to face England at Wembley on the 1st December after returning to international football last month following an absence with an ACL injury.
On the 15th December 2022, during Arsenal's Champions League match against Lyon, Miedema suffered the dreaded anterior cruciate ligament rupture plaguing women's football. Definitively ruled out of the FIFA 2023 Women's World Cup, the 27-year-old spent most of the year rehabilitating from the severe injury, with her sights set on the eventual return to football.
Then, on the 22nd October 2023, 311 days after the fateful injury, the Dutchwoman was substituted on for Arsenal during their Women's Super League win over Bristol City. Just five days later, Miedema was back in an orange shirt, making her international comeback against Scotland in a 4-0 win in Nijmegen.
As the Netherlands' top scorer, men's or women's, Miedema's absence over the past year has been notable in the Oranjeleeuwinnen squad. Here's how her return could prove pivotal for the Dutch side in the Women's Nations League.
Is classic Viv back?
Although Vivianne sustained her ACL injury in December 2022, the classic Miedema has not truly been present on the international football scene since July 2022. Ahead of their second group game in the Euros, Miedema tested positive Covid-19 forcing her to isolate from the team.
Unfortunately, Miedema continued to suffer from symptoms despite testing negative and somewhat 'recovering'. In what has been regarded by some a mismanagement, Miedema played the Netherlands' entire match against France in the quarterfinal where she visibly struggled for breath at times. The player who everyone expected to light up the tournament with the Dutch defending their title, was struggling to run up and down the pitch.
Not able to fully recover ahead of the 2022/23 season, Miedema made the brave decision to ask Arsenal manager, Jonas Eidevall for a break. Speaking openly about the importance of prioritising mental health in elite sport, Miedema used the time to refresh and get away from the pressures of professional football.
The last 18 months have been far from ideal for one of the best footballers in the world but classic Viv is slowly returning. Creating a goal scoring opportunity with one of her first touches back in an Arsenal shirt, it's obvious how much Miedema is missed from her respective teams.
Confidence and set backs will all be factor's in Miedema's return and she can reach the heights of success again that she has enjoyed so far.
Contributions in a Dutch shirt
Vivianne Miedema is one of the most recognisable players in the Netherlands and there is good reason for it. Making her debut in 2013 for the senior national team, Miedema scored an international 16-minute hat-trick within a month of being in the set up.
During the Netherlands' winning Euros campaign on home soil in 2017, the then 21-year-old was essential to their success, scoring twice in the final over Denmark.
Becoming the all-time Dutch goal scorer in 2019, Miedema's fame and recognition reached a high. Surpassing the record of all time great Robin van Persie, Miedema boosted the profile of women's football and while remaining humble, continued to set high standards for herself.
From the homesick 17-year-old signing for Bayern Munich, considering quitting professional football to the record-breaking striker making a name for herself at Arsenal, Miedema's journey to glory was not always conventional but has shaped the way she plays, leads and visualises her game.
Miedema's Football Mind
As one of the leaders within the national team, Miedema felt it was her role to provide her tactical and technical insight while not being able to contribute on the pitch.
“Because she wasn’t part of the group, she could look at things objectively. She didn’t have the emotion of the group,” said Jonker, speaking to the media, earlier in the year.
“She does things that you don’t think of as a trainer. She is unpredictable, creative and can also execute. That is exceptional. We are lucky that she was born in our little country.”
The Arsenal forward has previously spoken about a desire to move into coaching at the end of her playing career, a time still a while away. While out injured, Miedema was working towards her UEFA-B license, the second band of coaching qualifications in Europe.
The Hoogeveen native utilised her break smartly, remaining integrated with the Oranjeleeuwinnen, hopefully making her return to play as easy as possible.
Oranje on the brink of the Olympics
The Netherlands are close to reaching the later stages of the Nations League, needing to top their group containing England, Belgium and Scotland.
Facing England at Wembley, followed by Belgium at home in Tilburg, the Dutch side sit in 1st place in their group, two points above Belgium. The group is in their hands but the Orange Lionesses cannot get complacent.
Finishing 5th at their debut Olympics in Tokyo 2020, the Netherlands - and Vivianne Miedema in particular - have unfinished business.
The USA beat the Netherlands in the Olympic quarter-final, Miedema taking the first penalty but failing to score. Desperate for redemption in Paris, Miedema will be even hungrier for wins in London and Tilburg later in the week.
Vivianne Miedema will inevitably boost the Netherlands' hopes this international break. It is uncertain how much game time she will get due to varying fitness levels but her impact from off the pitch has been clear during her absence.
It may take some time for the classic Miedema to return but this could be the dawn of a new era for Miedema. After a break, a time to reflect on a busy and successful career so far, this could be the time for Viv to further delve into her potential as a player and leader.
With the whole of the Netherlands behind her, Anna Margaretha Marina Astrid "Vivianne" Miedema is back and is ready to inspire from the international stage once again.