Friday, September 21, 2007

2007 Women’s World Cup Quarterfinals Preview

du Nord reader Adam previews the Quarterfinal matches for us:

Germany v North Korea
It’s no surprise the Germans finished first in their group, even after struggling to find the route to goal as easily as they did in their 11-0 drubbing of Argentina. The reigning World Cup champs must be feeling confident entering the quarterfinals; star player Birgit Prinz is in strong form, with 4 goals in the group stage, and opposing teams have yet to score a single goal against them.

Enter North Korea. The cunning Asian side might be the team that finally cracks the German defense. Just as organized and technical as their European counterparts, the Koreans have incredible speed that will give Germany fits. In the “Group of Death,” Korea showed they can attack with precise passing or dangerous long range shots. Forward Ri Un Suk’s cracker from 25 yards out against Sweden was one of the best goals of the tournament. German keeper Nadine Angerer faces her first real test against North Korea.

Verdict: North Korea’s constant pressure and relentless speed might prove to be their undoing. Germany will have no problem capitalizing on a tired Korean side.

USA v England
The US players know it’s no secret: the team is not playing its best soccer. Captain Kristine Lilly admitted the US needs to hold the ball more and build possession through the midfield. Abby Wambach agreed, saying the team will need to move the ball around better if they hope to beat the English. The American players also know they’ll need to control the ubiquitous Kelly Smith if they hope to reach the semifinals. England’s powerful midfielder scored 4 goals in the first round and was crucial in her team’s draw with Germany.

However, the English have shown that they’re far from a one woman show. The team is extremely organized and builds strong attacks out of their defensive end. Alongside Kelly Smith, midfielders Rachel Yankey and Jill Scott bolster an already strong English offense. At the other end of the field, central defender Faye White, who stands six feet tall, has been a rock. Her match-up against Abby Wambach should be a highlight of the game. Fara Williams, another standout for England in the first round, will miss the quarterfinal since she accumulated a second yellow card in her team’s game against Argentina.

Verdict: It’ll be a closely contested match. If the tentative Americans can finally raise their level of play, the valiant English will struggle to contain them.

Norway v China
In the inaugural Women’s World Cup in 1991, the Chinese met Norway in their first match of the tournament, running out 4-0 winners. The two teams met again in the semifinals of the ’99 World Cup, with China thrashing the Norwegians 5-0. This time around, if China’s defense continues to be as shaky as it was in the group stage, it’ll be the Chinese who find themselves on the wrong end of a lopsided score line. Unfortunately, China’s offense hasn’t been producing either. Strikers Han Duan and Ma Xiaoxu have yet to score a goal between them. Chinese defender Li Jie is the team’s leading scorer with 2 goals.

Once a powerhouse in women’s soccer, Norway entered this World Cup as a dark horse to win the title. Unlike the Chinese, the Norwegians are experiencing a promising return to form. Ragnhild Gulbrandsen leads the tournament with 5 goals, and Ingvild Stensland dominated the midfield in group play. Typically a direct style team, Norway played much more technically in the first round. The team’s ability to pass through opposing defenses, instead of relying solely on long passes, will trouble the disorganized Chinese.

Verdict: To the dismay of the home crowd, China’s run in the tournament will probably end here. Still, Norway lost in the quarterfinals of the 2003 Women’s World Cup to tournament hosts USA. Because of that result, the Scandinavians might be hesitant when they face the host nation, yet again, in a World Cup quarterfinal.

Brazil v Australia
The South Americans are the only team in the quarterfinals that won all three group games, outscoring their opponents 10-0. As expected, Marta ran circles around defenders and spearheaded her team’s explosive offense, helping herself to 4 goals. Teammates Cristiane, Formiga, and Renata Costa supported the star striker and helped the rampant Brazilians solidify their claim as a favorite to win the competition.

The Australians, in a World Cup quarterfinal for the first time, enter the match-up against Brazil as the underdog. It’s a position the Australians used to their advantage twice in group play. First, Australian super sub Lisa De Vanna scored a late goal to tie heavily favored Norway. In their final match of the group, needing only a tie to advance, the Australians found themselves trailing Canada in stoppage time. De Vanna again helped Australia after coming off the bench, assisting Cheryl Salisbury on the tying goal in the waning minutes of the game.

Verdict: The Brazilians are known for their goal scoring ability—not for their defense. Though they didn’t allow a single goal in group play, Australia’s speed and creativity might trouble an occasionally lazy Brazilian backline. Australia certainly won’t be a pushover, but if the South Americans find their rhythm, it’ll be hard for Australia to keep them off the scoreboard. Both teams play attacking soccer, so this match has the potential to be a high scoring affair.

Match schedule:
-Sat Sep 22
USA v England
Germany v N Korea
-Sun Sep 23
Norway v China
Brazil v Australia


Blogger mamacita chilena said...

I was thrilled to hear that the U.S. won, but I'm guessing we'll have more trouble with Brazil (assuming they beat Australia)...

Can anybody tell me more about this?

"England defender Faye White was flattened by an elbow in the 37th minute from Wambach. They had words on the field, and White later said her nose probably was broken.

"I've been told that perhaps it was (intentional) and that high-fives were done afterward, which isn't nice to hear from such a team you've kind of admired," White said.

Wambach said she was spinning to her left and inadvertently hit White in the face.

"There's no way that that was on purpose," Wambach said."

Where did the English girl get that idea from?

5:11 PM  

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