The 7th edition of Women’s FIFA World Cup has already reached its climax with the last four teams remaining in contention for the prestigious Trophy. After 48 out of 52 matches having been played, the next two matches will determine the top contenders. In Tuesday’s first semi-final at Montreal, tournament and world’s two highest ranked teams, USA and Germany will vie for superiority. Both teams have had the honor of emerging world champions twice. USA won the inaugural 1991 World Cup at China and again in 1999, when the event was hosted by them at venues across USA. The 1999 World Cup final is famously known for American defender Brandi Chastain’s memorable act of taking off her shirt and revealing her torso in just a sports bra. Chastain had scored the cup-winning goal in penalty shoot-out and devised her own method of the victory celebration in front of over 90,000 spectators at Rose Bowl Pasadena. The shocking event became a subject of a huge debate in the days to follow. Germany have won twice with back-to-back victories in 2003 and 2007. The two teams have also emerged as runners-up once each. The biggest piece of statistic is the fact that it has never happened in the World Cup’s last 6 editions that one of the two teams did not play the final. With their semifinal showdown tomorrow, one of them will reach the final yet again. In Wednesday’s second semifinal at Edmonton, defending champion Japan will take on England, for whom it is the first semifinal appearance in a World Cup. Though, Japan go into the match as favorites, their dream run in the tournament gives England tremendous confidence. By all accounts, two crackers of football contests are on cards.
The Americans are raring to go against the Germans in FIFA World Cup’s first semifinal at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal. It is not easy to pick a favorite between world’s two top-ranked teams. Germans are no.1 and USA fall right behind. While Germany have scored 20 goals in the tournament so far, the American women have been superb in defense and it is amazing that they have conceded just one goal in all their matches. It happened to them in their opening match against Australia. Incidentally, Brazil was another team that also conceded a solitary goal but that led to their elimination from the tournament. Germany have Celia Sasic as tournament’s top scorer with six goals and in Hope Solo, USA has the best goalkeeper, who has made 11 saves to date. They also have strikers like Megan Rapinoe, Sydney Leroux, Christen Press, Carli Lloyd and Morgan Brian, all of whom are gifted with the ability of creating chances and scoring goals. As for Germany, their squad had a perfect blend of experienced players and immensely talented youngsters and their coach, Silvia Neid is a big force behind them. Players like Nadine Angerer, Celia Sasic and Anja Mittag have already proved their worth and in the semifinal, they could force USA, regardless of Hope Solo’s performance so far.
The second semifinal on Wednesday features two teams of contrasting virtues. Japan are defending champions, who had defeated hosts Germany in a penalty shoot-out in 2011 final. They have made good progress in the tournament this year in playing like champions. England had slow start in the tournament but their performance improved with every match. Despite losing 0-1 to France at Group stage, England won their next four matches with an identical margin of 2-1. In the quarterfinal, they denied hosts Canada the chance to enter their second semifinal in the tournament history. On the other hand, Japan have won five successive matches with a 1-0 margin and that mirrors the Asian’s record with England. After their 2011 World Cup victory, Japan also reached the final of 2012 London Olympics. That speaks volumes of their performance on the international scene. In Mana Iwabuchi, Japan has a superstar, who enjoyed great success at youth level. She was the one, who scored the 87th minute against Australia on Saturday. As for England, Jodie Taylor is a livewire, who is capable of making a decisive difference just as she did against Canada. The Englishwomen have remained unbeaten in their three previous matches against Japan, with one victory and two draws. But that doesn’t mean anything as the performance on the match day will dictate their future.