Women’s World Cup semifinals preview & predictions
Saturday provided for some fantastic soccer games, as did Friday, and the semifinals are finally set for the 2015 Women’s World Cup. The semifinal matchups are as follows: USA vs. Germany and Japan vs. England. This is England’s first-ever semifinals berth and they will be facing the defending champion, Japan. The other matchup provides an opportunity to see the No.1 and No. 2 ranked teams in the world face off against one another.
USA vs. Germany
Germany advanced to the semifinals following a hard-fought victory that was secured on penalty kicks, as they overcame a 1-0 deficit in the second half to force extra time. They were able to score the equalizer on a penalty kick after a hand ball was called against France in the box (Sasic 84′). Extra time saw a couple of scoring chances, but neither team was able to put one through. Germany continued their penalty kick streak when the game went to PK’s, and they have now made all 12 of the penalty kicks in the Women’s World Cup. France had a chance to net the winner in extra time, but Gaetane Thiney couldn’t place a perfect cross, as it sailed wide.
The USA had to deal with the absence of Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday against China, but they had their foot on the gas the entire first half. They weren’t able to score in the half, but the pressure helped open up play in the second half. In the 51st minute, Carli Lloyd headed home the game-winner off of a Julie Johnston cross, and the US kept enough pressure on China PR to gain the victory.
In the match between USA and Germany, we can expect a physical and tactical strategy from both sides. Germany comes in as the No. 1 team in the world, and they have shown flashes of brilliance in Canada thus far. The USA is the No. 2 ranked team in the world, and they have struggled offensively so far, but they should be able to provide plenty of pressure against Germany on Tuesday evening. Most Americans are wondering when Abby Wambach will show up in this World Cup, but she is bound to provide a spark outside of her halftime speech against China PR in the match against the Germans.
Japan vs. England
Defending champion, Japan, was able to score a late goal (87′) to beat Australia in their quarterfinal matchup, and send the Matildas home from a World Cup that saw them become the first team from Australia–men’s or women’s–to win a match in the knockout stage of the World Cup. They were entertaining to watch and, like the US and Sweden, advanced out of the group of death to get to the knockout stage.
England faced the home team, Canada, for the chance to advance to the semifinals, and did so behind two first half goals (11′, 14′) in a 2-1 victory. Canada played a gritty match, but defensive lapses in the first half cost them a victory. Canada’s Christine Sinclair was able to draw blood in the 42nd minute, but it wasn’t meant to be as England held off a late push.
Most people probably have Japan as the heavy favorite in this semifinals matchup, but England has what it takes to at least make a game out of it. After all, they are riding on the momentum of advancing to their team’s first-ever semifinals berth and are squaring off against the defending champion. Look for England to push the tempo in this match and hope that Japan’s counterattack doesn’t come up with goals on the other end.
Who do you think will advance to the Women’s World Cup final? Let us know in the comments section below!
Stay tuned to MFST as we cover the rest of the Women’s World Cup. You can follow us on Twitter @MyFntsySprtsTlk, Facebook (My Fantasy Sports Talk) and Google+ (+My Fantasy Sports Talk).