WWC 2015: The Best and Worst of Day 6 – Group B

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Our daily guide to the best and the worst of today’s Group B action in the 2015 Women’s World Cup!

The best and worst of Group B

What Happened
Although the first match was all in Germany’s control, Norway managed to poach back a draw to share a point each while Thailand made up for last round’s disappointing defeat by claiming all three points against Ivory Coast in a tight five goal thriller.

Germany came out strong from their double-digit thrashing of Côte d’Ivoire, dominating possession and shutting off any chances that Norway might have had in the final third.

Their dominance proved vital within six minutes as a testing shot from long range off Dzsenifer Marozsan was blocked by Ingrid Hjelmseth in goals but she wasn’t able to secure control of it and Anja Mittag was able to cut the rebound back into the net.

After that initial fumble the Norwegians sharpened up at the back, keeping out looming threats like Alexandra Popp who almost doubled Germany’s lead with a header that went wide of the post. Marozsan, back from injury after missing the first game, also controlled the midfield well proving why she is a first-team starter for the side.

Nadine Angerer was called upon to make a save before half time when Isabell Herlovsen got a chance just before half time but the close range strike was no match for Angerer and it wasn’t until the second half that Germany conceded.

Maren Mjelde proved that she was a master of free kicks when she curled the ball over the wall and into the top corner of the net, leveling the score.

Spurred on by the equalizer, Norway pushed Germany’s defense for the rest of the game, but neither side could break the deadlock and the first match of the day finished with a point a piece.

Côte d’Ivoire opened the scoring early in the match with Ange Nguessan picking the ball out of a six-yard box scrabble to net the Ivory Coast’s first ever goal in the Women’s World Cup finals.

The lightning fast goal did little to perturb the Thailand side however and the Asian team quickly and methodically took control of the match with their skills and persistence finally paying off.

The pay-off came in the form of a volley past Dominique Thiamale off the boot of Orathai Srimanee following a perfect set-up from Anootsara Maijarern.

A chance for Les Elephantes to take the lead again came and went with Ines Nrehy mishit a wide-goal tap in that should have been a perfect goal for the Ivorians.

Thailand made them pay for the mistake however when Srimanee was delivered a perfect cross in the middle of the box and she was able to head it goal-wards, all doubts washed away by the goal line technology confirming it had entered the net.

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Thanatta Chawong took advantage of miscommunication with the backline of the Ivory Coast to put another past Thiamale and the African side answered with a solo run from Josee Nahi that she managed to square away behind Waraporn Boonsing but the one goal margin from the late first half goal proved too much for Côte d’Ivoire to overcome.

Stand Out Performances

Awarded Player of the Match for the tight conflict between Germany and Norway, Dzsenifer Marozsan played ninety minutes for Germany and shone, controlling the midfield and shutting down any attack that Norway tried to mount in the first half.

Maren Mjelde also won redemption in the clash with Germany after failing to deliver the penalty against Thailand into the back of the net, and fans will agree that she more than made up for the mistake with her beautiful curling free-kick that earned the Norwegians a vital point in the group.

Orathai Srimanee stood out for Thailand, putting a brace past the Ivory Coast’s defence, her first two goals on the international stage. Having only played thirty-one minutes against Norway it was a massive confidence booster for her to start the game, and her two first half goals may have carried Thailand to their chance in the Round of 16.

Talking Points

The same problem plagued Germany in this second match of the tournament with their finishing simply not up to par as some might have hoped. Although Die Nationalelf claimed 52% possession in the match and seemed like they’d run away with the game in the first half, they couldn’t convert their twenty-seven chances into more than a single goal.

Norway on the other hand found themselves with only three chances on target and used them to full effect. If Germany are to succeed once they are out of the group stages then they are going to need their strikers burying chances without hesitation – the stronger teams will make Germany suffer for their missed chances, as Norway already did.

Thailand also showed that they deserve to still be in the running for an appearance in the Round of 16, with their strong display over a demoralized Ivory Coast hopefully carrying them into the last match with high hopes.

Can the latecomers to the tournament manage to cause an upset that could see ripples across the whole tournament? Only Germany stands in their way now, and if they manage to defeat the multi-title winning champs then it would be a record day in Women’s World Cup history.

What it Means

The draw between Norway and Germany means that top spot is still up for grabs with the only thing that might stop Norway from clinching the top spot with a win is Germany’s massive goal difference that they earned against Côte d’Ivoire.

Thailand meanwhile has come within one point of the leaders and an upset could see them scrape through in a top two position. Regardless, it looks like Thailand has clinched at least third, which puts them in a strong position to make it through to the Round of 16 if results in other groups work in their favour.

Needs Work

Once again Germany’s lethality in front of the goal mouth comes into question with their strikers currently leading the golden boot table but unable to put away the majority of the chances.

Norway need to create more chances for themselves – they were able to make do with three on-target shots this match but that still only delivered them a single point,.

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If they come against tougher competitors they’ll need to be creating enough chances to carry them through.

Côte d’Ivoire’s defense once again looked weak against stronger attacks with Thailand managing to come back from a goal down to put three past the Ivorians and exposing their weaknesses in the back line.

What Next?

The final matches of Group B are going to determine who makes it through on top for the group but with only one point separating Thailand and the two top teams, Norway and Germany may have to be careful not to slip up and drop into third place.

For the Ivory Coast, the tournament is all but over with only a surprise upset over Norway offering them a chance to break into third place and possibly make it through to the Round of 16.

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For Germany and Norway the next match is about aiming for the top spot in the group with Germany’s goal difference going to be the deciding factor in that final struggle.

Goal of the Day

It seemed almost effortless by Mjelde to send Angerer the wrong way and beat the German wall with the Norwegian equalizer and even some of her teammates seemed surprised that it had nestled into the back of the net.

If the deep-lying midfielder can bring to bear her danger from set pieces later in the tournament then that could be the tipping point between Norway making it to the Round of 16 and having a deep run into the semi-finals themselves.

Miss of the Day

It wasn’t exactly a poor miss, or even a poorly struck shot, but the final attack by Ange Nguessan that was saved by stalwart keeper Boonsing may be the most disappointing for the Ivorians.

Coming within a single goal with additional time still to be played, if Nguessan had been able to tie up the score in those final seconds then Côte d’Ivoire may have still been in with a chance to make it through in the third placed spot – as it is, the miss from Nguessan more than likely marks the Ivory Coast’s last real chance at qualifying out of the group stages.

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