Wednesday 1st July – 00:00 – Olympic Stadium
The top two ranked teams in women’s football and the favourites for the tournament face off in the first of the Women’s World Cup semi-finals tonight – USA and Germany. They have both reached three previous finals, winning on two occasions. The US won the first ever tournament in 1991 and again in 1999, whilst were runners-up four years ago, whilst Germany were victorious in 2003 and 2007. The Europeans won Group B on goal difference before beating Sweden 4-1 in the round of 16, but needed penalties to defeat France in the quarter-finals. USA also won their group (D), and then beat Colombia 2-0 and China 1-0 to reach the last four. They have conceded the fewest goals at this tournament, just the one, whilst Germany are the highest scorers in Canada, hitting the back of the net 20 times – thanks in no small part to their 10-0 win over Ivory Coast in the group stage. Many people are saying that this game perhaps deserves to be the final, but only one can make it to the showpiece in Vancouver. Find out who does by tuning into BBC at 11:20pm, with kick-off 40 minutes later.
- Veteran USA striker Abby Wambach was benched for the quarter-final against China, but could return to the starting line-up.
- Jill Ellis has more decisions to make in the midfield, such as whether to also restore the likes of Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday to the first XI as well.
- Germany could stick with the same line-up that started against France, with midfielder Dzsenifer Marozsan coming on as a half-time substitute, as she has done for much of the tournament.
USA – Carli Lloyd
China proved a tough test for the USA, but it was Carli Lloyd who scored the winning goal early in the second half, something she appears to do a lot. The 32 year old’s goals secured gold medals in both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, whilst she has struck in World Cups before and in Canada, where her team has had trouble finishing chances. In fact, Lloyd has been involved in four of the USA’s seven goals at this tournament (2 goals, 2 assists). Like many of her team-mates, the midfielder is an experienced international, competing in two previous World Cups and making 200 appearances for the national side, scoring on 65 occasions.
Germany – Celia Casic
With FIFA World Player of the Year Nadine Kessler ruled out of the tournament, Germany needed someone to step up to the plate, and Celia Sasic has done just that. She made her international debut aged just 16, and now has 63 goals in 109 caps. Now 27, she came into the tournament off the back of a superb season with Frankfurt, as they won the UEFA Women’s Champions League. She also topped the Bundesliga scoring charts for the second season in a row, but will become a free agent after the World Cup, so I’m sure there are plenty of potential suitors watching in Canada. With six goals in five games, Sasic is the tournament’s top scorer so far.
The Key Battle: Abby Wambach vs Nadine Angerer
Two incredibly experienced players go head to head in Montreal, but only one can make it through to the final. Firstly there’s the USA’s Abby Wambach, competing at her fourth World Cup, but she is yet to lift the trophy.
At 35 years old this is her last chance, and so far at the tournament, we perhaps haven’t seen the best of a striker who is considered one of the greatest ever in women’s football, with two Olympic golds, multiple World Player of the Year nominations and 183 goals in 247 USA games. In Canada, she has scored just the once, against Nigeria in the group stages.
The woman between the sticks for Germany trying to stop her is Nadine Angerer, who will retire after the tournament. She is her side’s captain and has won the World Cup on two previous occasions, meaning she will become the most successful player in history if she lifts the trophy in Canada.
The 36 year old has played a huge part in getting Germany this far, conceding just three goals and saving the vital penalty in the quarter-final shootout against France.
Like Wambach, Angerer is also a former World Player of the Year winner, receiving the award in 2013, whilst she has also lifted the European Championships a record five times.
I think you’ll agree that these are two players that both deserve to win the tournament to cap off truly extraordinary careers, but at least one of them will be left heartbroken.
Last Meeting: Germany 3-3 USA (5th April 2013)
The two sides played out a thrilling friendly to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the US Soccer Federation. After a goalless first half, Abby Wambach’s header gave the USA the lead two minutes after the break before turning provider soon after as she flicked on a cross for Megan Rapinoe to volley home. However, Germany reduced the deficit back to one just after the hour mark as Kim Kulig smashed home from 12 yards following a goalmouth scramble. Lauren Cheney then had a goal disallowed for offside, but it looked as though it wouldn’t matter as Alex Morgan expertly chipped Nadine Angerer following Cheney’s 40 yard through ball. But Germany scored twice in the last five minutes to secure a draw. First, Celia Sasic scored a penalty after she was fouled in the box by Christie Rampone and then Anja Mittag swept home.
My Prediction: USA 0-1 Germany (AET)
When the two best sides in the world meet with the two best goalkeepers, it’s bound to be a close, low-scoring affair. Both the USA and Germany should create plenty of chances throughout the 90 minutes but find it hard to hit the the back of the net, which is why I think it will go to extra time. Germany have experience of this already in the tournament, and might just win it in this period with a goal from Anja Mittag. However I wouldn’t be surprised if it goes all the way to penalties, which is perhaps the best way to decide such a tight, intriguing contest.