2015 Women’s World Cup – How are my favorites doing?

Before the Women’s World Cup in Canada I talked about the four teams I thought had the best chance to win the Cup. They are USA, Japan, Germany, and France. So far, two of those teams have played poorly (USA and Japan) and two have played well (Germany and France).

USA is not playing well and appears mostly uncoached. The leave Wambach on the bench and continue to pump balls into the box as if a 5’7” player could get them versus a Scandinavian team. Then they go ahead and start Wambach and play her the entire game even she was clearly on last legs for 30min of the match, up only 1-0, against an athletic Nigerian side that could have conceivable gotten a counter attacking goal. With 5 good forwards the USA could play a 4-3-3 and just outscore the opposition and use their subs to keep the pressure on all game. Essentially this is what Barcelona does now, instead of possession, to take the pressure off the backline. The USA defense is playing well (hello, Julie Johnston), which makes this an even better formation.  Holiday (Cheney) and Lloyd are not the right midfielders for the 4-4-2. This article outlines the incorrect team selection for the style of play that was chosen and, EVEN WORSE, the inability for the coaches to recognize reality. I even tweeted after the Australia match that Holiday and Lloyd are the keys for the USA. They have to play well in unfamiliar roles for the team to advance. The USA team has been helped by good seeding. I am sure some will say, ‘wait for the team to gel and when they start clicking they will roll people.’ They haven’t clicked yet.

Japan has not played well even though I thought that playing on turf may help their Tiki Taka style compared to other teams in Canada. Apparently, their coach recognized he had an issue and brought back legend Homare Sawa to a sixth World Cup. This is after she had been out of the national team set up for the past year. The coach must have realized something was off and decided to bring her experience or to bring her sense of urgency since this was obviously her last WC. It hasn’t really worked, but they are still alive. They added in some attempts to play long balls and score quickly in comparison to previous tournaments and that is not a bad thing. They have been known for their possession and some unpredictability is good. But their possession has been ragged at best – so many giveaways in the midfield.

Germany has had an easy cup so far. They have also crushed the minimal opposition they have faced. The USA could only draw Sweden, but Germany ran away with a 4-1 win. That game should also lay to rest any thoughts that Pia is a good coach. The Swedes looked uncoached against Germany – completely broken. Announcers on TV and some writers talked about the unimaginativeness and lack of fire during group phase. Pia’s strength seems to be her ability to relate to players. When coaching the USA she could make sure some of the top soccer athletes in the world were in the right frame of mind to play and send them out to dominate, which wins a lot of games. But, no one said the USA played good soccer. Back to Germany, assuming that the knocks picked up against Sweden heal then they are presumptive favorites.

France had some good and not as good games in group stage. They also self suspended Necib (one of the most talented players in the world) for petulance and attitude. The team was back at full strength in the first knockout game and rolled over a curiously conservative South Korea side that just seemed happy to be there. If the French keep it together they have put in the second best performance and have significant talent available from their national league’s club teams, which regularly win the Champion’s League.

My prediction at this point based on the form shown is that the 2015 World Cup winner will be the Germany/France winner in the quarterfinals. Why are the two best teams, Germany and France, meeting before the semi finals or ideally in the final? FIFA decided that unlike the men’s World Cup the women did not deserve a fair draw. Here is an article that outlines the reasons.

This entry was posted on Sunday, June 21st, 2015 at 19:36 and is filed under Professional Soccer. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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