The US tactical cookbook to play Germany

One aspect of football is to look at what home work and tactical preparations the teams have done to target or reveal their opponents problem areas. And in this particular case there is a lot of room to maneuver for both sides because both have shown enough areas to be targeted by their opponents. Lots of things to work with. And even more to cancel out the own weaknesses.
Who has got the majority of this right?
There are not many matches where this might be more important than here.

Defense
expected formation: Maier – Krahn – Bartusiak – Kemme
A basic problem: Germany have had only a few days preparation time after the end of the season with very exhausted players who were in need of regeneration rather than asking them for taking on new tasks. These 4 are playing in 4 different teams in 4 different set ups. Bartusiak only 3-4 games in the whole last year because of injury. Krahn is used to be center back in a chain of 4. Maier is used to be defensive wing midfielder slightly up the field in front of a chain of 3. Kemme is mixing her roles sometimes more (wo)man oriented defender or lately more midfielder.
Surely some weaknesses in the German defense have been made so evident by France that the German side probably will target them and change. However some things are difficult to change thoroughly enough. Because some things are simply the players basic patterns of play.

1. Move them vertically. They have had very individual (and different) interpretations in case a forward eg leaves the wing position for the center or vice versa when the wing back leaves the attention to the center back or vice versa. These handovers always causes them lots of problems. That was not only at display when Jakobsson had a chance to bring Sweden back in the game where no central defender was at hand directly in the middle of the field. It was as well interesting to see no center back at all protecting the goal after France should have scored against them in the first minute where Necib was left totally alone.

2. Urge them to stay deep. None of them is fast. So they tend to stay extremely deep to avoid overrunning. That takes a lot of running for the holding midfielders in defense and thus prevents the two from going forward when in possession. Additionally it opens spaces in front of the back line to give you room to play with.

3. Prevent Maier from opening the game from the back. She is very good at it. Able to go for herself, play longline, turn into the middle and on her left foot, play a short pass for a one-two. All other 3 are very weak. They will give you lots of inaccurate long balls if put only under a little pressure, especially Krahn and Bartusiak.

4. If the holding midfielders go deep to open the game prevent them too as far as possible. Focus on attacking Goessling especially. She is expecting the ball in a deep midfield position and hardly going forward from there without having the ball. So she is not difficult to pick up and prevent from getting the ball. Maybe even a forward can be used to have an eye on her when Germany builds up from the center back..

5. Always open your right side to force Germany on their left wing. (When Kemme-Popp are playing there) Attacks from the left wing are usually much less dangerous – but be aware of Kemmes long range shots.

6. A main strength of the German full backs is defending dribbling players. They dont like speedy players how are using their speed to pass them with mainly their speed advantage.

Midfield (expected formation: Goessling, Leupolz)
which is difficult to determine in the German team. From paper you would say Popp – Mittag – Laudehr are also midfield players but they are either playing far up front when the opponent allows them to do so or they are pushed back and then taking some very different but indifferent fantasy positions. Mittag is not used to work defensively at all. Laudehr will go deep back but stay very much at the sideline only. Popp is the only to really do midfield play but also seeks to stay up front as far as possible. On the other hand Kemme and Maier used to be very far up front acting like midfielders also most of the time.
This leaves their only two real midfield players to do lots and lots of running in between a very unorthodox organisation around them. Unfortunately for their opponents these two still show hardly any sign of fatigue and have been able to hold everything together by their immense working rate.
For that reason it would be advisable to stretch the game horizontally and vertically urging Leupolz and Goessling to cover yet more ground and thus exploiting more gaps in their midfield areas.

Offense (expected formation: Popp – Mittag – Laudehr — Sasic)
1. Be aware of Mittag. She seems to be the biggest threat at the moment. She plays the tournament of her life because she is on a self confidence high and a very sensitive player who needs that massively as her whole career tells. She took difficult shots and executed them well as you have never seen her before. Be happy when she is subbed out. Maybe that substitution against France has got to her already.

2. Be aware of Maroszan. You know that already from the last friendlies. Especially her long range shots. Germany is also more dangerous individually than by team play. And Maroszan is their most skillful in regards to producing something or scoring on her own not only on shots. Dont be fooled by the fact that she might be quite ineffective for most of the time however because she seems rarely to be positioned at the right place which they are still seeking and have not yet found in the “Mannschaft”.  Not only for this reason it would have been nice to have used a warm up game to check a better protection for your center backs by a holding midfielder like Johnston (using an alternative center back) or Brian.

3. Be aware of Germanys right side. Have a midfielder to protect Klingenberg who is taking her defensive duties very seriously. If Klingenberg can not match the speed of Laudehr – who is not extraordinary quick – think about some kind of change. Laudehr is all but a winger. She has only a few minor dummies at her disposal to get by you in a 1on1 situation. But she will punish you if you are slower than her by simply running past you. And she can run without a break. If you can contain Germanys right side your chances are rising significantly.

4. Corner kicks and set pieces. Put the most attention on Popp. But be also aware of Krahn, Leupolz, Laudehr, Sasic who are all good.

 

gerfra-deepgoal4

The second before Necib netted for the lead against Germany. Again a huge gap between center backs and holding midfielder. This isnt the worst example though. And a poor header from Peter to add to the misery. So it got the most costly one.

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Preview USA – Germany

Background
The ultimate heavyweight clash – if you are allowed to say so in women sports – sees world ranked teams number 1 and 2 meeting for the big showdown of the world championships. Both had their ups and downs not only during the last year or so but also during this tournament. The US have even changed their manager after a insufficient showing in the Alga-Cup 2014 and a lot of rumors have been going around on how this decision was made. However after not coming to grips for the whole of 2014 and a defeat against France in early 2015 suddenly things started to go the right way with a much welcomed win of the Alga-Cup 2015. Albeit seemingly having found a well balanced formation there things got worse again when further improvements were targeted and the formation changed.
Germany have had a lot of easy-peasy qualification games, and a few friendlies with a loss to France like the US and a third place in the Alga-Cup 2015 after a win in 2014.
In this tournament we also saw the US going rather up and down from a hard fought win against Australia to a quiet draw with Sweden and an uninspired win against Nigeria. And after that yet another lame showing against Colombia really let the alarm bells ring. However there was a good reaction to keep China down. Not a fluid game but a very inspired style of play showed the teams eagerness to make a change to the better. They really played from the very first minute like if it were their last 10.
Germany like expected had the much easier group games but the more difficult way in the ko-stage with a convincing victory over Sweden but a more or less lucky outcome on penalty shoot out when they met France in the quarterfinals and showed much room for improvements as well.

What to expect
A very tough battle. Unless one side gets lucky as England and score on their first opportunities it can be expected that this will be a long lasting physical battle if not even more but at least on the same level like the France – Germany game. As already stated in the match report of the last quarterfinal here, there have been no goals at all in all 4 quarterfinal games which resulted from a combination play. All goals have been more or less somehow “battled” or “fought” in the opposite net – if not big errors converted. It would be nice if that would change to the better but if you look at the goals of these teams so far against decent opponents (so forget about Germanys 10 against Ivory Coast) they are the masters of goals that made their physical advantage count either on set pieces or in duels or by using some faults or simply have enough players in the box to profit from loose balls.
You can see it from the opposite direction as well. Both teams know exactly that they will very likely lose that game when they give away easy goals what should make their defensive resistance even more intense.
Dont expect anything regarding the US lineup except that Solo will be goalie because they seem to like changes even if they had found a well balanced formation as the games after the Alga-Cup showed. And of course the more they mix it up the more unlikely they will be able to get a fluid game going. And we have already often seen all six players in midfield and attack kind of playing their very own six different styles beside each other. Either way – there will be changes again for sure because Rapinoe and Holiday are available again.

Keys to success
1. There is another post here (tactical cookbook to play Germany) where some key areas are listed which might be targeted by the US team. The more of it they get right – the better their chances

2. US defense: Quite in contrary to Germany where strong holding midfielders protect the vulnerable center back the US have strong center backs which are not very well protected by the holding midfielders. So it remains to be seen if the US midfield gets their defensive balance right. Another detail might be to help the back when crosses are coming in. Both German wing players (should they again play Popp and Laudehr) are very good in heading the ball so the full backs might be asked to stand strong if crosses are flying long over the center towards the other side. Apart from that you can really see the US holding on to a clean sheet given how rarely Germany got scoring opportunities against France.

3. Germany: balance in midfield play: Germanys strange midfield organization which consists of only two real midfielders Goessling and Leupolz who have been good enough against weaker opponents to manage that by a massive work rate but not enough to keep the quality french midfield under the cosh. The quite unorthodox and sometimes not very well organized support from the three offensive midfielders and the very deep standing center backs leave a lot of space for the pair to cover which can be exploited by a decent quality opponent. Against France it proofed costly not only when the french goal was scored.

4. Take your chances. There should not be too many. Whoever needs less to score first will win. Sorry, should win. Because both offenses have proofed to have difficulties to break down decent opposition properly. And decent oppositions means the likes of China, Nigeria or Norway, let alone like the kind of Germany or the US. Expect both sides to be defending good enough to hold on to a 1:0 lead for a long time. The best chance for either side then is adding more pressure on an probably retracting opponent and bring the ball and bodies into the box as often as possible. Maybe there is some lucky poor defending header or a deflection like Frances goal, a handball like Germanys goal, or the ball simply falls luckily to be netted like Japans goal. The chances of such a typ of goal have been much higher during this tournament than any other play. Very rarely we have seen goal scoring opportunities after counter attacks.

5. And maybe: Who is able to adapt to the proceedings and makes the right tactical switches and player changes. Both coaches could not yet proof their abilities to make changes to the better when the game was not going the way they would have wanted. Neither Germany in the game against France or Norway could be helped from the bench nor the US team in their performances against Sweden, Nigeria or Colombia.
Can that be changed this time? It will be interesting to see if either side does either:
– Improve the weak points of their own teams by recognizing them and take the right steps to change them as many feel for example Germany could have done to defend Thomis or the US could have done to improve their offense in the games mentioned above.
– Recognize weaknesses of the opponent and try to exploit that.
Should the game be as close as the Germany – France game you can ride your luck as Germany did and still proceed. But it might well be a if not THE decisive factor if any side gets it right this time.

Things to watch out for:
Crunch time for the players to put in big performances.
There has not yet been a very big outstanding favorite for being player of the tournament so far. You might favor Germanys Goessling at the moment who has been the heart of the German team and consistently so during all matches. But still that is more of a “who else?” and far from decided. We certainly have not seen outstanding performances in the US offense so far but the center backs both might still be in the mix as well and probably taking over as favorites should they help the US team keeping a clean sheet and proceed against Germany as well.
But the two most influential games are yet to come and any other player could still step in with decisive performances for their team to get to the title.
A lot has been going to the script so far in these world championships. Not only the FIFA ko-match fixes. (If only France had written their own …) Most of the games have gone pretty much according to the expectations as you surely have noticed if you have read the previews here. Seems like the women are more capable of preventing such upsets as the 7:1 last year. So we have to ask: Is there still a match to come where all predections are thrown overboard and everything goes in a totally different direction.
For this game you might rather wish for something unexpected to happen …

Canada – England 1:2 (1:2)

Official FIFA.com match website:
http://www.fifa.com/womensworldcup/matches/round=268018/match=300269493/index.html

Deficient Canada sends England into football heaven

It was expected to be the weakest of the four quarterfinal matches at least in regards of the performance of the victorious team. Though you could expect it would be more entertaining than USA – China because it would be more evenly contested than that. And everything lived up to its expectations.
But that is football and that are great tournaments. That is why things happen like Denmark or Greece getting European Champions and why gambling has its fair share not only off but also on the pitch. It has been the same story throughout the tournament that you see teams struggle to be playing good enough to create chances and goals if the opponent is at least of half decent quality.
And I would estimate that throughout the tournament a very low percentage of goals came from decent passing or combination play where at least two players of the attacking team are playing the ball before the goal scorer finally nets in. It was one out of seven in the quarterfinals. And the only one was a high looping ball from the defense simply served into the box about somewhere only to be headed in because of power and height advantage. No playing skills at display here as well.
And that peaked in this particular game where 2/3 of the goals were poor gifts despite at least some class was shown in converting the gifts into goals. Apart from that it was a constant battle to string two or three decent passes together from either side. With England on the lead being obviously the more confident and capable and the ones who didnt need to get anything extraordinary going up front but to keep a clean sheet after they had allowed Canada to come back in the game and bring the audience to live again who seemed to have disappeared after the 2:0.
But it simply was not enough from Canada who – similar to England – have come thus far based on defense only and riding their luck up front. Canada played 5 games which makes 7.5 hours of football in this world championships and have in 7.5 hours not been able to score a single goal where the goal scorer got the ball by an intentional pass from a team mate. You have on the other hand to applaud them for achieving to get into the quarterfinals with such lack of offensive quality nevertheless. It was quite remarkable. You certainly can imagine the Swiss – if they havent already done so – banging their heads a few times against some decent solid alpine rocks for losing out against them. At least after having watched this game. Who knows whether they will be presented such an opportunity to reach a big semifinal again.
England have made the most of it and that now may bring them on such an emotional high that you can see them win at least one other game. It has been already a quite confident display and their best game during the championships. They have looked more likely to getting the 3:1 lead than Canada the 2:2 draw for most of the time with Taylors fine curled effort coming closest only to be denied by a big safe from McLeod. On the other side it was Schmidt who had the biggest chance after a cross from Chapman but missed the target high from about 6 meters out.
Apart from that a solid defensive performance from England was enough to keep Canada out of the box for most of the time and you could see the nerves being difficult to handle from a number of Canadian players giving away some balls poorly. Nevertheless kudos to them for being a showcase how far you can get when you put in an immense amount of desire. Hopefully they are able to bring better footballers like young Fleming into the squad in the near future to add some football quality to their desire level.

Player of the match: Taylor
England worked well as a team and had no outstanding player. So I decided this because her goal was a rare display of extra class that helped decide the game and reminded the visitors of being at a world championship quarter final.


Player Ratings England (0-10)

Bardsley 6
Ok but the goal

Bronze 7
Solid defense – and a goal.

Bassett 6
Reliable and solid as ever though hardly contested.

Houghton 7
As always the rock in the center of the backline.

Rafferty 6
Solid in defense. Has had games with more offensive actions though.

Scott 7
Since she was put on the right wing she started to play football. And it worked.

Williams 6
As solid as usual.

Moore 6
Again a solid physical performance to protect the space in front of the box. Still more offense wanted

Carney 7
The sometimes lonely initiator who clearly lacked support when going forward.

Chapman 6
High work rate and solid. But a defense only “10”.

Taylor 8
She converted her chance when she got it. Seems not so much happy as lonely goto player up front.


Player Ratings Canada (0-10)

McLeod 8
Very solid performance again with some good saves.

Wilkinson 5
Very cautiuos and reluctant in offense. Better defensively

Sesselman 5
Kudos for managing to stabilize after her fault. Nevertheless clearly lacking confidence.

Buchanan 7
Was never beaten by any opponent player but didnt help the offense

Chapman 6
Ok defensively but way too nervous in attack. At least lively

Scott 6
The WSL player. Did at least well defensively.

Belanger 5
Simply wasnt her day. some unlucky situations.

Schmidt 7
The real good player in the midfield hardly found others to play with her.

Sinclair 7
Up one for the goal. More initiative than before but rarely looked dangerous.

Lawrence 5
Tried but could never initiate anything threatening.

Tancredi 5
Because you dont get a lesser rating for a WWC quarter final


Japan – Australia 1:0 (0:0)

Official FIFA.com match website:
http://www.fifa.com/womensworldcup/matches/round=268032/match=300269485/index.html

Japan impressive again

It seems like a little bit natural for the neutral spectator to have sympathies for the hard working busy little bees. But you perhaps also had your sympathies for a very good Australian team that have gone through the group of death in extraordinary manner and also held Brazil at bay in the round of 16.
But Japan again showed their class to finally grind out a well deserved victory by holding the Australian team on their backfeet and not allowing them to show their pacy attacking style we used to see in their previous games. Australia defended very well and disciplined not giving the Japanese too much space to get clear attempts on goal.
But when overtime was lurking behind the corner more and more Japan finally showed that they not only can score from one of their beautifully crafted self-created opportunities but can as well be able to “fight” the ball into the net.

Maybe it was not accidentally that this finally came from Iwabuchi who seemed to inject some fresh air to an understandably tiring team. Especially given the great heat on the pitch. It might be very necessary now with semis and finals following in fast succession to have fresh legs and use your substitutions to add to these on time for all remaining teams as well.

Maybe the heat played a factor. Maybe it was a tactical decision. Maybe the Japanese were too commanding from the very first minute. The pacy Australia never really showed up. We didnt see much of deVanna, Kerr, Foord who rarely were able to really come further than just out of the blocks to see their attempts held off immediately. And a free kick when Kerr was quite unfairly stopped by Iwashimizu who earned a yellow card was one of the rare opportunities for Australia you can remember all game long. But the shot from Kennedy got about a meter wide and that about summed up how close the Australians came to scoring in this game. Some shots on goal all got too central so that is was not too difficult to block them for Kaihori. But not only since that goal against the Netherlands you somehow feel danger when a shot is fired in direction of this particular little bee in that big goal despite she proofed to be there also when needed to catch crosses in the air.

Still it seems to be a big surprise that no opponent so far in this world championships have managed to score from a corner kick or a set piece against Japan. England are certainly targeting this having scored after set pieces against Norway and Canada. Apart from this Japan is still using only high crosses in front of goal when they have a corner kick themselves and that even lead to the decider against Australia. Something Australia should really unhappy with having defended Japan successfully from scoring from open play. And you still think Japan should be able to play short kicks or other variants from corner kicks against bigger teams with counter attacks into their – then unsorted – defense also dangerous opportunities.

Australia however have shown that they are on a good way during this world cup and have a very solid base to further build upon. They should stand a good chance to qualify as one of the two participants from Asia for the Olympics in Rio. They maybe should work on their passing skills to be able to set up their attacks more accurately and being more comfortable in possession to allow to open up the spaces to set up their forwards.

Player of the match:
Kawasumi
Japan is so much a team effort that this feels not right to pick a particular player out. After FIFA took my last pick Utsugi this time I go for Kawasumi because she was the player who created the most chances on her right wing with Ogimi as an alternative despite their defense was the stronger part in this game.


Player Ratings Japan (0-10)

Kaihori 8
Nothing too difficult but everything she had to do, she did well

Aryoshi 7
Solid team player.

Kumagai 8
Calm and solid as ever.

Iwashimizu 7
One fault lead to an opportunity for Simon but big role in the goal generation.

Samechima 7
Solid in defense. Has had games with more offensiv actions though.

Kawasumi 8
Was the most creative of the midfield to set up a lot of play over the right wing.

Sawaguchi 7
Covered a lot of ground in midfield as usual.

Utsugi 8
Again a little bit more of an obstacle to come by for the opponents as the other midfielders

Miyama 7
The same goos and reliable team player as always. Not quite on level with Kawasumi on the other side regarding the offense but rock solid.

Ohno 7
High workrate as always. Should create yet a little bit more.

Ogimi 8
Little bit more dangerous. Got only difficult chances to take and struggled just a little bit.


Player Ratings Australia (0-10)

Williams 8
Solid performance. Faultless.

Foord 7
Very cautios and reluctant in offense. Ok defensively

Alleway 8
Rock solid center back performance.

Kennedy 8
Rock solid center back performance.

Catley 7
Ok defensively but also very reluctant when Australia was in possession.

Kellond-Knight 8
Did well to stop Japan but not enough again when Australia had the ball.

van Egmond 7
Also ok defensively but not enough in offense.

Gorry 6
Tried but it was not enough when Australia was in possession of the ball.

Simon 6
Tried but it was not enough when Australia was in possession of the ball.

de Vanna 6
Tried but it was not enough when Australia was in possession of the ball.

Kerr 6
Tried but it was not enough when Australia was in possession of the ball.


*France – Germany 5:6 op. (1:1, 0:0)

Official FIFA.com match website:
http://www.fifa.com/womensworldcup/matches/round=268032/match=300269485/index.html

indepth tactical analysis website (in German):
http://spielverlagerung.de/2015/06/27/viertelfinale-deutschland-frankreich/

A brilliant match? It depends!

It depends on what you expected and what you looked out for. Let us not forget there was no China (Despite giving them a lot of credit) involved but world no1 and no3.
I would rather break it down which leads to very ambiguous results:
1. Players technical abilities. Have been widely great. Even in the other quarter final matches we still will see some inept touches or kicking of the ball in difficult situations. Very rarely at this game.
2. Players physical abilities. Have been great. A high tempo game even in extra time would suggest that on this level it is time to start some decent analysis on how much distance the players have run. If you know anything where this is at display please drop me a line.
3. Players tactical abilities. (Individual players ability!). Have been not great. You still see some strange decision making of good players in quite a lot of situations. It happens in mens football too. But far far less. Things like when to take a shot, when to attack in a duel and when to retreat, when to play the ball and when to keep it, when to play the short ball and when better hit it long. But there are of course interferences with team tactics as well. And here we go.
4. Team tactical abilities. Have been poor. For a good reason there are many talks about Sasakis Japan. Because that is by a country-mile the outstanding “team” in regards to making a “team” working together and getting much more out of it than its 11 parts. And so with all the great running, the great tempo, the great technical skills on display in this game there has been so much room to improve and develop the team play that you cannot rate this a brilliant match in all aspects. Unfortunately you have not seen even at least one attack with half of the team play of Japans 2:0 goal. Not 50%, let alone all 100% of it. And you dont want to start to think about the poor defense. Especially how Germany defended Thomis. And how France managed to not take advantage. Maybe the best is to leave that without words or at least dont look to closely on what was a textbook like sample of how you could improve your team behaviour and team play in defense.
It looked somewhat like 11 brilliant white players battled 11brillant blue players, but it was all wildly, uncoordinated, like “where is my next enemy? let me run at her and battle her straight away”. To be more positive you can change the adjectives from this match from wild and uncoordinated into natural and instinctive.

As expected from their previous matches (read the preview of this match here and the Sweden game analysis here) Germany are running into trouble when their opponents are not too much struggling with the pressure the German players put on their opponents in attacking them high up the pitch and in midfield in 1on1 situations but instead are able to find a way to play through it. This had been revealed already by the very first attack where the German back organization was all over the place with no center back in the box, and holding midfielder Leupolz (who as well should not necessarily have been positioned there in this situation) to be the only one to put a little bit of pressure on Necib who has to score on such occasions on a day where Germany was as beatable as not often before. From that moment on you got a sense that even on such an occasion the French could proof second best comes the end of the day again.

And indeed it should remain their best (and only clear cut) scoring opportunity of the game. Until minutes from the end of extra time Thiney missed the golden opportunity and a sitter from 5 yards what looked like she saw the offside flag from the lineswoman. Who would have bet though that even in this case the french would not have been able to concede another late draw.

Should France have won the game? – Is the most useless question of the day. Surely you can argue that Germanys late draw was a lucky one because it came by yet another controversial penalty. If that should be in the balance until the end of the tournament there might be a lucky German opponent waiting. On a side note (Even if you are a defender of the referees constantly reminding people of the fact that they have no built in slow-motion picture and only one ankle to look at it) you might have seen the worrying signs when you saw this particular referee honored after she was on duty in the game England – Colombia. And guess what: There was a certain no-penalty given for hand play and a yellow card to the Colombian goalie for what was not even a foul. Some referees seem to like to be wild with their yellow cards too. This might well play a role as the Colombian keeper problem revealed against the US.

But back to the game: Frances lead was also lucky and at that particular time it came out of nowhere just when Germany started into getting a little bit of control over the match. And it was not a pass of a team mate to set her up but a mistaken header from a German defender. And additionally it got a deflection which made it impossible for Angerer to reach.
And back to the question if France should have won. It seems that the “equipe tricolore” have lost their track completely. It seems that they have been totally torn apart by the Colombia game and desperately happy now to come even so close to a victory over the Germans. They know their weakness since years:
– Converting their great skills in football class to clear cut chances
– Converting these chances into goals
Remember they managed to beat both Germany and the USA in friendlies this season where they already had overcome these kind of problems. Can they really be happy now to be at least back where they have been years ago? Or is this a deperate try to take something out of development in the wrong direction?

So the random goals have been somewhat typical for the match where the class of both teams seemed to be consisting of 11 individual parts who had been much better individually then the “team” that was built up by them.
Still of course that will remain one of the best games of the championships and it would not have been an embarrasing statement for women football if that would have been the final. The commercial interests of FIFA to fix the ko-stage match-ups do certainly not give that aspect lots of credit. France had a golden opportunity however to change their route to the final by exchanging their group placing with England. To manage a narrow 1:0 instead of the 5:0 against Mexico (to place 2nd) would have been the much easier task than beating Germany (let alone USA on route) which again proofed too much.

Player of the match:
Has to be a defender for sure. And despite the french backs played very well if you want to take one of the winner it can only be Krahn or Maier. From whom I would take Maier because she added some attacking desire as well to a good defensive showing not only in the lead up to the penalty despite we have already seen stronger performances of her.


Player Ratings Germany (0-10)

Angerer 9
Again showed her ability to focus and come up big at the big moments.

Maier 8
No problems on her side in the back. Lots of energy constantly supporting the mid fielders in attacking.

Krahn 8
Often got in the way of French attacks.

Peter 6
Could not quite keep up with Krahn. Another ranking point lost because of the french goal.

Kemme 6
Showed that she has not a lot of experience as full back. Strange positioning.

Goessling 8
Once again the most influential German player in midfield.

Leupolz 7
Lots of room for improvement in individual tactics. Got better in using her athleticism the longer the game went on.

Maroszan 7
Showed her skills here and there to no avail. At least threatening opponents and working the free spaces.

Laudehr 6
Forced back by the German tactics. And did ok there. But the least influential of all german forward players.

Mittag 7
Expect her to be of lesser influence when the Germans are kept away from the box. Still a strange substitution.

Popp 6
What did she play? No effect going forward. Sometimes helping the defense, sometimes not. Strange.

Sasic 7
A Sasic taylor-made game when she has acres of spaces to run into. But also to no effect.


Player Ratings France (0-10)

Bouhaddi 8
Her extravagant box play does not settle the nerves of the players. But she got there this time. Good free kick save.

Renard 9
Best player on the pitch. But that doesnt help if the team is out.

Georges 8
Nearly the same as Renard.

Majri 8
France certainly a better team with her. Pity we didnt see her together with Boulleau in action.

Houara 7
Solid as usual but defense only.

Necib 8
A lucky goal lifts her rating but we used to see more from her before her injury.

Henry 8
Always looks stronger in physical battles. Very good in defense. No factor in offense.

Abily 7
Much improved and a fine game to be about on level with the others.

Thomis 8
Threat level: 10. Efficiency level: 4.

LeSommer 6
Another part that got hardly any connection to the game or her team.

Delie 6
The days where a french forward helps her team to win a big game are still to come.

Preview China – USA

Background

It has been not so straightforward for the US-Team than expected but still they are on track. From a technical point of view. But after a wonderful Alga-Cup tournament win after which the expectations could not have been more optimistic – the sparkle got lost gradually and has turned into some kind of pain watching how clumsy the team is grinding her way through based on a strong defense. China was expected to be the team parking the bus after performances in the Brazil tournament and Alga-Cup. But they – despite still mainly relying on their back line – have shown some nice play too especially in a win over the Netherlands that put them on second spot in their group having lost the opener against Canada under controversial circumstances by a penalty in overtime.

What to expect

A 1:0 win for the US, what else? You might ask. But wait. Surely possession for the US is expected to be around or above 60%. But will they get something out of it? Now, the last games obviously showed at least some kind of constant development going on. Unfortunately in the wrong direction. This trend is not your friend but it has become a trend and who else than the management will have the chance to stop that. China would be silly not to try to take advantage out of this situation. It can give a team kind of a lift when they are realizing that the opponent is struggling and getting frustrated. Of course these are not ideal prerequisites for an outstanding football match and the probability of a cracking game is really not extraordinary high. But hey: winning the nail-biters is what you remember.

Keys to success

1. For the US: Stop the downward trend as soon as possible.
Normally the players should come out in the first minutes like it was still 0:0 in the 110th minute. Because despite all the experience it is starting now slowly but surely to crawl up your mind that you actually find it difficult to score and even create chances. Every minute on a draw will increase the Chinese self belief making them more and more of a dangerous opponent by the minute.

2. For China: Keep a clean sheet.
Obviously the one thing to do. The opposite of what the US want and china has to prevent that. Quite surely they will even stay with that should they concede an early goal because they know that nerves of the US players are there best friends when they can chase even for a late equalizer should they be still in the game then.

Normally you would dig a little deeper in what way the US might be trying to improve their attacking play. Obviously the coach wants to stick with Abby ball, what is quite a neat little name for what is going on. So everything else makes no sense. Hoping to come through with any nice combination play. Surely, it is not impossible, but you probably need massive support by a lucky situation opening up or a sloppy defense is playing its part.
Even Abby ball could played much better by stopping Wambach from running around elsewhere losing energy she needs in front of goal. Additionally you could bring in much more crosses by forcing playing on the wings and setting up real wing players.
And so it remains like throwing the dice and force as much opportunities by somehow bringing the ball in the box as much as possible. Hopefully sooner or later it will fall then down to someone who gets an opportunity to score.

Things to watch out for:

Now Abby ball is really limiting here also. Watch out for Wambach headers. Who would have thought that? Additionally it might be interesting how Morgan is finding her way back to her former rhythm. Especially how she gets alongeside the Abby ball style of play. From Chinas point of view it might be interesting if any of the players can take on their respective US counterparts and create something of impact to the game.

Preview France – Germany

Background
FIFA world ranking teams number 1 and 3 meeting in the quarterfinals of the world championships. And you do not really wonder that it does remember you of the bigger FIFA picture how the groups and the group winners way have been fixed to the title. So this is undoubtedly the quarterfinal that could have been the final as well given the class of the two teams. However there have been hick-ups at display from both of them so far during the tournament. Germanys out-of-nowhere 1:1 draw with Norway when they suddenly looked quite pedestrian in the second half after being utterly dominant in the first. And even more Frances loss to Colombia which was the biggest “surprise” of the tournament so far. However both got back on track with quite impressive wins in the round of 16, Germany 4:1 against 11 wide-eyed Swedish spectators, and France 3:0 against South Korea who looked equally stunned as the Swedes did. Albeit Sweden was expected to be the much more dangerous opponent of the two.

What to expect
It is football, womens football. So we are looking forward to the game with some excitement but we wouldnt be too surprised if the ladies deliver another surprising performance as the Germans against Norway or the French against Columbia. Apart from that because the players are knowing each other well from European competitions and even some playing together their might be a deadlock in sight where they are able to cancel each other out for most of the game. Small margins might decide who gets the edge. And it might well be that the winner will be decided by the fact who gets the majority of these small edges under his belt. And as we go on in the tournament of course there are more and more games decided by the short moment of magic or the fault rather than too overwhelming dominance. Messi had his chance last year but it was Goetze who did it for the German men.

Keys to success

1. For the French: Show up with your “A” team Having won their last encounter 2:0 in last autumn in Germany really lifted their self confidence at that time and gave them believe in their strengths. And it showed how good they can be. Could be? Already struggling to find their rhythm in the warm up games going into these world championships you could not believe how bad they have played against Colombia. Too many details have gotten wrong there as underestimating their opponents, missing personal skills, missing personal willingness. But worst: A lack of team spirit. The wins against Mexico and South Korea have not been enough – far from that – to make believe they have left their problems behind now. Maybe they have been in internal team talks to get those problems sorted, maybe a lucky course of the game helps them into something – but if they do not find a way back to the brilliant performances of months ago Germany might proof to be too much for them at the moment.

2. For the Germans: Sorting the back problems. It has been strange. The German back line. Never looked overly comfortable in the group games. But when Schelin and Jakobsson came it was an impeccable performance of the center backs. However there have been strange moments in their positioning where both seemed to follow their opponents far away from their usual position. The scene were Jakobsson was on goal for 2:3 was not the only one of this kind and if a team shows more support for their front players than the Swedes did for the lonesome two it remains to be seen what happens with the huge open spaces there. A strong midfield performance still is very much key for Germany to protect their back line and the Norway game weakness was not accidental at all.

3. A clinical finish and free from errors: In front of goal is where it counts the most Interesting contrast in the back of both teams. Renard and Georges are considered two of the best center backs in the world and there are not much who would prefer the German duo over these to keep a clean sheet. You might see the opposite in goal where Bouhaddi might be seen to be not as reliable as Angerer who seems able to manage to be spot on when it comes to the events on the big stage (despite not against Ivory Coast). Apart from that there are many tight duels too close to call. Will in the form of her life Mittag make the difference or the class of LeSommer?

4. And maybe: Who has a plan B After we have seen lately Sweden unable to adapt to the game and make any efficient changes against Germany and we have seen the Netherlands unable to adapt to the game and make any efficient changes it will be interesting to see if one of the sides here is able to change tactics when they see something is not going the right way. So far 7 of 8 ko-matches have been decided by the 1:0 lead already. Only England have managed to come from behind. And probably that was less of a “Plan B” than simply the fact they had to put more efforts in their offense and driving away the bus from their own goal.

Things to watch out for:

Is Germany playing enough “German” again? Then they should find a way through. Somehow at the end. Are the German players simply on average on the more successful mindset again?
The french on the other side might need something very special and they would achieve something very special given their lack in recent years to deliver on the big occasions. It doesnt need any further explanation and nearly everybody knows it. Actually the french side since the warm up matches look more like seeking something but not really knowing for what exactly. Especially their choices of formations and changes make it difficult to see any light in the darkness. Time for a change. One day it surely will happen.
Necib and Thomis. Of course there are other players maybe more influential or better. But these are two players who are very floating in regards of their performance. France could play safe and leave both out. Maybe that would be not the worst decision at the moment. Who knows. But both are players you have to organize your team around to make them click and go. Then they can be decisive. If you try to play to bring them into good positions and they are not able to deliver you will most likely have not much fun.

Japan – Netherlands 2:1(1:0)

Official FIFA.com match website: http://www.fifa.com/womensworldcup/matches/round=268032/match=300269485/index.html

Japan with an exclamation mark !

Surely a match with some appealing football on display. But it was mainly Japan who showed that they are a force to reckon with. You still wonder how far their excellent organizational and technical skills are able to bring them against far more powerful and athletic sides. But it was a far more comfortable win against the Netherlands then you might have expected. The speed of the transistion from the whole team turning from offense to defense and vice versa was very impressive and how rarely they allowed the forwards of the Netherlands to get into the kind of 1 on 1 situations they are so dangerous in. Surely there will opposition coming up sooner or later who are more precise and faster to bring their dangerous players up front in a good position to have a go at them than the Netherlands have been able to.
The Netherlands might be an opponent who are with better chances against opponents which are worse organized than the Japanese. Especially considering their dangerous forward trio Melis – Miedema – Martens up front. But they have been brilliantly defended in this game where it would have been key for them to get these three going. Especially Melis had a very quiet game after her only promising run in the beginning minutes where she missed a decent opportunity in a disappointing manner giving the ball a touch with the right foot immediately before she wanted to hit it with her left – which resulted in an air ball and a spin before going to the ground. Amongst football teammates you perhaps would tell her that she should work on this pirouette again on the training ground if she wants to get more points from the judges for her artistic impression. Apart from that the Netherlands played all but too disappointing. They simply didnt know how to break down their compact opponent and simply missed the quality in precision and movement that would have been necessary to do so. Especially after the early lead Japan was quite comfortable in keeping the gaps between their players and behind their full backs narrow so that the Netherlands nearly never found enough space to produce something to get through. Martens was the most agile and skillful to try but was closed down immediately every time she started some action. Some more tries she had after the break where she changed into a number 10 role but this seemed to play even more into the cards of the Japanese defense who always was able to crowd her out in an area that is always more crowded by the nature of the game than the wings are. Additionally you have to ask the coach who stated that they lacked precision in the final pass why he then replaced one of their best players in this (van de Donk) with Martens. Instead of replacing van de Donk who doubtlessly struggled to create something and replace her with another who then also struggled – if you are down you might think it would be a logical reaction to try it with two players to increase your chances and sub out one who has her advantages in a more defensive area? That the times where teams played with only the one number 10 responsible for all the team creativity are long gone with good reason seemed to be beautifully demonstrated in this very same game by the Japanese side where all players have been willing and able to be a “little number 10” in her respective position. Speaking on tactical decisions, you might stick with the idea not to sub out your usually important players even on a bad day because they are able to create a decisive move even then. oK. But you could have helped or at least try something to help Melis to find any way back in the game. Keeping her totally cut off on a right wing where she never had the slightest influence on the game especially in the second half was one big key to success handed over to your opponents without compliments by the dutch side. And so the credit you have to give to the Netherlands was mainly that they never gave up and tried their best and kept it open – until they went 2:0 down and even until the last second because the Japanese keeper gifted them a late goal and an opportunity to keep the excitement going again until the very last second. Most of the credit on the other side for a very entertaining match was earned by a Japanese side who seemed to be ready for the task in their first real test. More difficult opponents are waiting though you really can see them advance to the finals in their bracket. Still we have not seen what might happen if they go down a goal for example. All their games didnt get them fully stretched yet so you can still not see what reserves they still have in hand. You might also wonder what kind of reserves they have regarding their corner kicks. If they continue to take them like that against better opponents they open themselves up to dangerous counter attacks rather than creating chances of their own. And given this flawless defensive display against the skillful Dutch forwards you really might think that on their way to the finals the set pieces and headers might be their main Achilles heel. Any retrospective of this game would be incomplete without emphasizing the beauty of the goal from – well, Japan. You even want to hesitate when mentioning the goal scorer who was only the last to connect to the ball as well as the previous players did – or even not did as the fantastic vision from Iwabuchi showed who made a little dummy to get the defenders attention only to let the ball pass through to Sakaguchi. And so it was a goal of 4 high quality moves in the Japanese team altogether. And where other teams often need to use the errors of their opponents if they want to score from open play it was the proof that there are teams able to create something of their own to rise some eyebrows and something that also was not on display in Brazil 2014. As a side note the loss of the Netherlands was a consolidation for the Swiss, Norway and Sweden who now all have the opportunities to play for the third European spot in the Olympics in Rio (because England is not starting for Team GB). Should be an interesting contest and some interesting matches.

Player of the match: Utsugi
As mostly when Japan wins it is so much a team effort that a single player is hard to pick. How much do you prefer individual skills or prefer a perfect integration into the team making it work seamlessly as a whole. I go for the latter here and honor her as a representative for the whole team and especially her part in preventing the Netherlands to set up anything dangerous from the center of the field even if this pick surely is debatable as she was not the one to initiate a lot of attacking play.


Player Ratings Japan (0-10)

Kaihori 5
Of course the 2:1 goal took her rating down. Would have, could have, should have it not been 2 goals up …

Aryoshi 8
Her goal made up for some trouble she had second half defending Van de Ven.

Kumagai 8
The go to girl in the defense kept it calmly together as we have seen so often.

Iwashimizu 7
Was she worse than Kumagai and what was the difference. Dont know. Maybe a little.

Samechima 8
Let no dutch winger produce anything from her side.

Kawasumi 8
Very active in offense and with the mindset of a forward oriented player she makes up for sometimes being not the first when it comes to turn into defense.

Sawaguchi 8
Covered a lot of ground in midfield as usual and finished the second goal brilliantly.

Utsugi 8
Did slightly more for the holding role of the midfield in defense and gave the Netherlands no space to create anything from there.

Miyama 7
Not quite on level with Kawasumi on the other side regarding the offense but rock solid.

Ohno 7
Also full of running and a valuable part of the team but not quite as effective as Ogimi.

Ogimi 8
Had a hard job between the Dutch center backs but was full of action and running there all the time. Not to forget a very good header which set up the 1:0.


Player Ratings Netherlands (0-10)

Geurts 7
Ok, but not good enough for the first goal.

Van Lunteren 6
Played ok the way she defended her wing. But nothing more. Some offensive action would have been needed

Van der Gragt 6
Both center backs were ok most of the time. But could improve positioning sometimes. Van den Berg 5 Both center backs were ok most of the time. But could improve positioning sometimes. No need to mark your goalie at the second goal. Van Dongen 4 Ok for most of the time but an assist on the first goal she will be disappointed with. Spitse 4 Ok but not ok enough. Didnt look good at the second Japanese goal twice to lower her rating. Dekker 6 Was in no way outclassed and played her part as the most dutch players. But that was it and more would have been needed. Van de Donk 6 Tried but could not get anythong of important notice get going. Not too bad but not enough. Melis 5 Seemed annoyed by her missed chance. Played a very minor part. Miedema 6 Same story. Tried but it never seemed enough. Got no good balls from her team mates either. Martens 7 Not lacking effort in this game. Really tried hard and started some initiative only to see it was hardly possible to get through. Van de Ven 7 Not only because the (gifted) goal she showed much more activity than the other wing.

Preview Japan – Netherlands

Background

Holders Japan got through their group with 3 wins. A bad omen already for Brazil. The only other team to do so went out in their first knockout match. But the Netherlands as 3 rd behind Canada and China should spoil the party? First it has to be said that the Netherlands seemed on level with Canada and China in their group. Both of which are through to the quarterfinals. But with their better group ranking both had opponents which might not have had the quality of Japan. On the other hand Switzerland looked pretty on level with Japan as well with Canada and these two teams showed not huge differences in their respective 1:0 victories over the Swiss. The success and the experience of the last view years on the other hand are much in favor of the Japanese and this is a factor that might play a major role in such events.

What to expect

Japan is well known for being arguably the best organized team. Everything is well balanced and the teamwork is their biggest advantage. Athleticism on the other hand is steadily progressing in womens football and deficits there are more and more difficult to overcome. But from that point of view because the Netherlands are not a particularly strong and powerful team it should be one of the teams Japan could deal with. It will be interesting to see if it was only a bad day or might be a stereotype that the Netherlands looked better against the “power” teams New Zealand and Canada than they did against the “organization” team China which was their worst performance in the group by far. Japan on the other side hasnt found it easy so far to score loads of goals. But they have still not completely put all their cards on the table yet. Even if they will be dictating play and for sure completing more passes than the Netherlands it is always a danger to get caught by a piece of brilliant 1 on 1 by a dutch forward and concede a goal. A danger Japan is 100% aware of.

Keys to success

1. Keeping the dutch attack at bay
Clearly the trio Melis – Miedema – Martens up front is the top of the cake within their team supported by midfielder van de Donk. But you can see the Japanese defense organization being a nightmare for them as they love being able to take on their opponents in 1 on 1 situations. Something that the Japanese defense organization should be very good in preventing. But especially Martens showed a lot of desire and has obviously added the ability to her game to “power” through, what could be seen when she was the key initiator of the goal against Canada.

2. Keeping a clean sheet for the Netherlands
If Japan can take the lead it might be a game similar to the JAP-SWI game were Japan held the Swiss quite comfortably except from a few situations. Once Japan can stay compact with lesser need to attack in numbers the gaps can be closed and the space that is required urgently especially by Melis to make her speed advantage count can be narrowed by the Japanese side. And to keep a clean sheet will be significantly easier for the Netherlands as they themselves can stay compact and do not offer as much space as they sometimes did in their group games. The Japanese usually are more successful in finding and passing their way through small gaps rather than score on winning powerful duels.

Things to watch out for:

Where Melis and Martens had a good share of  prolific attacks lounged towards goal so far in this tournament it is Miedema who could not yet shine the way some people expected. But what should you expect from a 18 year old girl who had hardly any break during the last 12 months leaving her home and familiar life not only for a new club but a new country and on top of that rising massive media interest as the upcoming star player to add to the stress.
Her performance slightly faded away already during the last months for her new club and understandably so. We will see if she is still able to turn on her usual sparkle or if she again is more kind of trying to “fight” her way into the game. Still a player with exceptional striking qualities who can make that count every second her steps simply seem to be a decisive tenth of a second or so slower than when she is on top of her game. If she gets it going the Netherlands stand a good chance. If not – Melis and Martens alone are maybe not good enough to break through the Japanese defense.

Germany – Sweden 4:1(2:0)

Disappointing from Sweden or brilliant from Germany?

Surely a bit of both. But more of the first. Why? Lets come to this later.
Sweden got almost all of the expected key points not working:
– Loads of individual faults in the defense.
– The offense could hardly threaten the German defense even in 1on1 situations (or at least the Ivory Coast forwards looked not less dangerous)
– Key players didnt perform (only Seger ok; Jakobsson trying; Fischer and even more Schelin: better be kind)
Sometimes the character of football matches can change very fast. Not often you can tell the story of a game after 30secs. Maybe here you could.
It was all Germany. It was Swedish errors. They didnt show enough quality on this occasion.
And – even worse: They were lacking the awareness and desire to make up for the German players advantage in football class.
The only things you could not already guess after the first 30 secs was that Germany would be going to take their chances better than Popp did and that Sweden would be equally lacking quality in midfield and offense as in the back, especially the poor preformance of Schelin.

The idea of putting Rubensson one up into a midfield position and Berglund in at right back was not so bad on paper to put a little bit more offense power and speed to that midfield. Kudos to that. But it backfired already in that very first moment when Berglund was too slow to get it sorted that she wouldnt be able to reach the ball with her legs and too late to decide to use her head instead. Fortunately for Sweden that chance fell to Popp who is on a low in using her chances. Her reputation is based on headers only where she might be (usually) even the best in europe but her ratio of being able to convert big opportunities with her feet gives room for lots and lots of improvement not only since this WWC. I dont know why Germany pitches a player with brilliant header skills on the left wing and I dont know whether Neid considers to use another player there or tell Popp to try a diving header even if the ball is lying flat on the floor in front of her. A second half shot attempt on goal went out not even close to the corner but in nearly 10m distance for a throw in. That might remain the record miss of this championships.
Amongst football teammates you would say Angerer better should be watching out next time when Popp tries to shoot on the opposite goal.

Unfortunately Sweden is facing hard times in women football internationally. Schelin already far out of world class performance level since years, Fischer and Seger all around or above 32 comes the next EC in 2017. Jakobsson, Asllani and Rubensson not enough to keep the Swedish level up to rank third in Europe. Hopefully the younger players like Rolfö can take over but they might have to go a long way to keep them on level with the likes of Norway, England, Netherlands or Spain for the years to come. Germany (and France) never seemed more out of reach than today already. And the fact that these nations have a bunch of young players already in as well as ready to come in could make the difference much worse.

But still you shouldnt forget that Sweden looked so much better in the Alga-Cup. Still the team is able to perform much better than they did in Canada. Certainly you have to ask the management (but also the key players) why they havent been able to get their team anywhere near that level and make them wait for another two years now.

Can you draw the conclusion that Germany would be favorites against the USA now, based on how much better they have been against Sweden? (independent from whether they will meet or not)
No. Of course that is not the way football logic works. Based on the fact that Germany beat Brasil 7:1 and was on level with Argentina a few days later doesnt make Argentina even the favorites (let alone win 7:1) against Brasil in their next game, would it?
Nevertheless it was mainly the urgency of the offense towards the opposite goal where Germany seemed to be a level above the US so far in this tournament. And this was a difference not only showing in that one game against Sweden. The question is who will be able to better the Swedes in exploiting the gaps in the German defense that come with 4 mainly forward oriented players.

A little bit deeper: In the preview of this match I assumed that the elder states women coaches would not come up with fresh ideas. Even if you hardly can call it a fresh idea but theoretically the idea of Sundhage was not that bad at all. She really spotted that weakness at the defense of Germany well (though it was quite obvious) and tried to take advantage. Sitting a little bit deeper in midfield and trying to get space for Jakobsson and Schelin plus attacking the left wing of the german defense with the pace of Rubensson. Really a pity a good idea got that much punished. But you have to execute a plan well enough and to change it when you see it doesnt work. Ok, after it should have been already 2:0 after 5mins, as a coach you might think: The plan may need its time to settle. Still let us continue and try. The main problem: The link-up between the midfielders and especially between the back players and the midfield proofed to be absolutely catastrophic. Probably they never had a proper opponent to practise that formation in training. In defense the wing pairings Berglund – Rubensson on the right and Samuelsson – Sjögran on the left played like they should have practised a lot more to adjust their tuning much better. Especially on their right side the Germans had all the space they needed because Samuelsson after a few minutes realising the problems started to play extremely cautious sitting back far to deep and so often admitting Laudehr to run along the wing with a lot of freedom. And all that happened with nobody trying to improve or adapt. It seemed neither player nor coach showed any reaction. Usually the Swedes had Jakobsson in a 4 women midfield row to defend and only Schelin to stay up front with Sjögran more forward oriented but also helping the midfield in defense. Now using two players (Schelin and Jakobsson) staying up front is dangerous and only a few teams do that but if so your midfield organisation has to be very accurate.
And after a spell where the Swedes just seemed to get at least a little bit better into the game another problem became evident. Some Swedish midfield players were not used to build up play being intensely attacked by a number of decent players deep in their own half. If you try to sit deep and play defenders in your midfield then you have to play the ugly game if any danger is in sight. Kick the ball where you want but as far away from your own goal as possible. Sweden didnt – Germanys players had enough quality to setup a nice one-two and convert the fault. Decent goalkeeping could have come to the rescue. It did not: 1:0. Thank you.

And it should remain the only goal where the German players set up the goal scorer by a decent pass. A very questionable penalty. A kind post. A sliding tackling helped with the others. So the brilliance of Germany was significantly based on the weakness of Sweden.

Player of the match:
Goessling, because despite not a bad performance of Seger Goessling was the “boss” in midfield and the center of her team who played a key roll to put all the pieces together.


Player Ratings Germany (0-10)

Angerer 9
Stopped everything she could. Two difficult crosses and especially Jakobsson when she suddenly appeared in fornt of goal.

Maier 8
No problems on her side in the back. Lots of energy going forward. Could have done that a little bit more effectively.

Krahn 8
Not as easy for her as it seemed to be. Had to cover a lot of ground. No lost duel with either Schelin or Jakobsson.

Bartusiak 8
Copy and paste of the Krahn text.

Kemme 7
Very energetic performance with lots of interest going forward. But the only defender who lost out occasionally on Rubensson.

Goessling 9
The most central figur in the German team putting the right triggers at the right time.

Leupolz 7
Covered a lot of ground in midfield as usual and going up front as well. But then had not enough gas to finish properly.

Maroszan 8
Better than usual in defense. But not very effective up front either. The desire hitting the ball to her goal lifts her from 7 to 8.

Laudehr 8
Best game so far. Used the space given by the Swedes very nicely. Should only have finished one to get a 9.

Mittag 8
Her clinical finish was pivotal. Not so much to see from her in the second half though.

Popp 6
She will still be disappointed with herself. Could have been a 5 as well. But give her credit for taking part in putting pressure on Swedens defense

Sasic 8
Speedy reaction and a goal lifts her from 7 to 8


Player Ratings Sweden (0-10)

Lindahl 6
Ok, but not good enough for the first goal.

Fischer 5
Tried to stabilize the defense but that left her only caught in even more difficult situations she came out second best. A routined player should realise it is not her day and then get at least the easier jobs done.

Ilestedt 6
Focused on what she had to do and did that bit better than Fischer.

Samuelsson 5
She had the unfavourable task to play against Maier/Laudehr.

Nilsson 5
Continued exactly where Samuelsson left off.

Berglund 5
Dont know whether the reason she looked a little bit more stable in the defense was based on the fact she had the weaker opponent. Wouldnt have wanted to see how she would have done against Bremer eg.

Rubensson 6
Started at least something for Sweden in the first half. But nothing more in the second. Strange defensive play.

Seger 7
Also noticed too late how she should adapt to their “new” midfield where she had not many partners to play with and change strategy.

Sembrandt 6
Up one for the fine goal.

Sjögran 7
Pity to see her retire. Has she ever been so fit? Certainly not the last two years. If only all others had shown the same desire.

Schelin 5
Not lacking effort in this game. Simply could never beat Bartusiak nor Krahn who looked more stressed against Ivory Coast.

Jakobsson 6
Again the better compared to Schelin but should have finished one of the chances.