Getting through their groups as 1st and 3rd you might expect this to go in favor of Canada. But it seemed that Canadas first place was not quite as convincing as they would have liked it. With only one goal from open play so far Canada seems a little bit to struggle finding their offensive flow. Switzerland with only three points might be considered as one of the negative surprises. But it was only one poor half against Cameroon that let them down. Can Canada make their home advantage count or does the additional pressure of facing the knockout in the knockout stage make the task even bigger? The Swiss are first timers participating in WWCs. They are certainly impressed by such audiences. But their players are nevertheless used to facing big opponents as their manager has helped – not quite to the delight of everyone in the Swiss domestic league – the players to develop their skills abroad mainly as full time professionals in the German bundesliga.
What to expect
Is another tight battle for a 1:0 on the agenda again? You might fear so. Both sides should be careful about not conceding a goal. Both sides know about their difficulties in scoring goals. What else than being very careful would be your logical conclusion if you were the responsible coach? Certainly not taking additional risks hoping your offense is suddenly and a bit out of nowhere starting to produce more magic? There have been glimpses for Canada but they simply dont have the players with the same firepower as the Germans do. One Schmidt is not enough. Young Fleming shows a lot of talent. And hopefully we can see more from Sinclair. Only a goal on either side might change the game. Canada really have to keep calm in front of another enthusiastic crowd. It was already difficult to understand why they gave away so much open space to the Netherlands in the closing minutes of the game leading 1:0 and allowed the Netherlands forwards and especially Melis to use their speed to their advantage. If they give that kind of open space to Bachmannn it might hurt them again. The Swiss will not open up their defense as well. They have had problems to find the right mix up in their center back area with most of their usual players not free from injuries and have already added Kiwic as one of their usual center backs as a holding midfielder against Cameroon. And it worked out in a well played first half against Cameroon but didnt later on. So we will see if they keep going to put more eyes on reacting to their opponents than being confident to set the tone by themselves.
Keys to success
1. Keeping a clean sheet for Canada
The Swiss will have recognized that is is not easy to break down the very well playing canadian defense with main trio Chapman – Buchanan – Belanger. Maybe they have not yet during the WC met players of the quality of Bachmann and Dickenmann and you sometimes doubt their experience to deal with such quality players who are able to make a decisive move during every second of the 90 mins. Especially risky challenges have to be taken more and more carefully the further they go in the competition given the improving quality of their opponents to avoid penalties, freekicks in dangerous positions or simply pick up yellow cards. If the Swiss do not come up with something new it should be possible to keep them under control. However they have to be prepared to help each other out and double up in time. 1 on 1 might not be enough to defend all the time against the “…mann”s.
2. Keeping a clean sheet for Switzerland
Switzerland will certainly have had more consideration and discussion on how to build their defense. Will they have enough courage to put Wälti (their 3rd extra quality player) up to their midfield which might help to get more control there and if so, will it pay out. So far it seems that Canada are gaining momentum and getting additional energy when they can kind of connect with the crowd to cheer them up and building some kind of upward spiral that the Swiss should want to calm down by controlling the tempo. Apart from that it really seems to be an achievable task to be as successful in defending the Canadians as their group stage opponents have been.
3. Who is able to produce the moment of magic
If it not a fault that is deciding this match them it comes down to the question who can deliver that piece of quality to decide the match. I would prefer the chances of Dickenmann and Bachmann compared to maybe Sinclair or Schmidt here. But all of them have not yet been able to land a decisive strike for their teams. Will it change?
Things to watch out for:
We have seen a big improvement in womens football over the last 4 years again. The public awareness is also on the rise. This leads to more pressure on the managers who often as a result prefer to focus on not risking too much and put emphasize on a stable defense. What makes it more difficult up front and the only well known forwards to live up to the expectations so far are mainly those who could add to their score tally against weaker opponents. Amongst those who find it difficult to even get some foothold into the game has been Sinclair so far. I would like to see at least maximum desire and a forward to see tiring after 80mins because she has worked her socks off. It is not nice for any player to have to go out of a tournament knowing you could have done more.