WWC 2015: The Best and Worst of Match Day 2

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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 & Worst of Group B!

What Happened

Dominant performances from Norway and Germany saw them both collect three points as they outshone newcomers Thailand and Côte d’Ivoire in the opening matches of Group B.

Norway’s campaign started in fine fashion with debutants Thailand unable to hold out their strong attack but at the beginning of the game Thailand had the opening chance, Silawwan Intamee just missing a cross in from Kanjana Sung-Ngoen that gave her a position in front of the open goal.

Norway weren’t going to let their opening game go to waste however with veteran captain Trine Ronning, at her fourth World Cup, the first to open Norway’s account after sending a free-kick curling around the defensive wall to nestle it into the back of the net.

Isabell Herlovsen put her name on the scoresheet soon after with Norway working their way into the box she slotted home a low ball that gave her the first goal she’s scored in a World Cup in eight years.

A close-range header doubled Herlovsen’s account and left Norway leading 3-0 at half time with Thailand struggling to keep them out.

Ada Hegerberg made up for earlier misses half way through the second half, putting a close range shot into the back of the net with ease after a burst of speed down the left flank, and the nineteen-year old sealed the deal for the veteran World Cup competitors.

Although the game looked out of reach, Thailand still had one final burst of energy with a strong save from Waraporn Boonsing against Maren Mjelde’s penalty shot lifting the side, and a chance came with a long-ranged hit in the final minute but they couldn’t find a goal in their first outing in the Women’s World Cup.

A 10-0 defeat marks Côte d’Ivoire’s first outing in the Women’s World Cup with Germany’s attack never letting up as they rampaged to victory.

This decisive win continues Germany’s streak of undefeated opening games in the World Cup and the goals came thick and fast. Celia Sasic opening the scoring in the third minute with a tap-in and doubled her personal tally [and the team’s lead] when she headed it in less than ten minutes later.

Anja Mittag began her scoring to make it 3-0 before Sasic tapped-in a great team play that showed a master class of control from the Germans and marked her hat trick on the scorecard. Half time closed out with Tabea Kemme setting Mittag up for her second of the match, the volley stunning the crowd as it slammed into the back of the net.

The second half proved to be more of the same,with Côte d’Ivoire holding out for almost twenty minutes before Mittag netted her hat trick and the goals began to flow once more with Simone Laudehr making it 7-0.

Sasic’s substitute replacement Sara Daebritz took the score to eight for the Germans, and celebrated her first ever international goal in emphatic joy with the rest of the team spurred on by her efforts. Although Nadine Angerer botched the second save she had to make in the game, the Ivory Coast were denied by a miss-hit and Ange Nguessan came away disappointed she couldn’t score the African nation’s first ever World Cup goal.

Melanie Behringer put her name on the scorecard but it was Alexandra Popp’s goal that got the crowd on their feet after she had been denied multiple times across the ninety minutes before curling a free-kick past a poorly lined wall to put Germany’s goals into the double digits.

Stand Out Performances

Isabell Herlovsen must be the first name mentioned from Norway’s four-star performance with the midfielder pulling the strings for the entire ninety minutes and finding the back of the net twice. Denied an assist on the score sheet by the post early on, Herlovsen also netted the Player of the Match, and rightly so.

Celia Sasic reached her 60th international goal in the competition with a strong thirty-one minute hat trick that could have seen her bag even more if she had not made way in the second half for twenty-year old Sara Daebritz, who would later net her first ever international goal. On the tune of hat-tricks, Anja Mittag also netted her own by the 64th minute of the game to follow Sasic’s example and her looming presence in front of goals helped give the rest of Germany’s forward playmakers room as the Ivory Coast defenders watched her like hawks.

Finally, although she did let in more than a handful of goals, Dominique Thiamale’s performance in front of goals for Côte d’Ivoire stopped it from being a truly embarrassing defeat for the debutants, saving six clear-cut chances in the first thirty-five minutes of the game alone. If she can bring that performance to bear against Norway and, especially, Thailand she may have a better chance of a clean sheet to keep her side in the games.

Talking Points

Germany proved rampant in their opening match of the World Cup and has proven to all that are watching that they are not pulling any punches in their 2015 campaign. Could we be seeing the beginning of a strong run to the final that could see the Die Nationalelf bring home one more international title for coach Silvia Neid before she retires at the end of the top-level competition?

It can also be said that perhaps there is a bigger gap between team levels than initially assumed with the new teams coming in to face stalwart veterans. 14 goals on Match Day 2 showing that perhaps Côte d’Ivoire and Thailand weren’t yet ready for the step-up to the finals.

What it Means

With two former champions coming up against two Women’s World Cup debutants, the strong score lines were only to be expected and the three points for Norway and Germany certain takes them a long way towards their objectives of getting out of the group stage. The real battle of Group B is going to be Thailand and Côte d’Ivoire fighting it out for the third place and a possible chance for a place in the knock out rounds. Thailand’s lower scoreline may show that they have what it takes defensively to triumph over the Les Elephantes.

Norway will be happy with the strong start in the 2015 competition as well, having failed to make it out of the group stage four years ago, and realistically only needs a win over the Ivory Coast to secure their position in the final 16 teams of the tournament.

Needs Work

The only time Côte d’Ivoire seemed to control their own fate in front of the net was an inch-perfect tap from Rita Akaffou that denied Anja Mittag a one-on-one chance with the keeper but apart from that it seemed like the Ivory Coast was playing with only a single defender. Germany’s offensive players found whatever space they wanted in and around the box with Côte d’Ivoire lucky to have only conceded five goals in the first half, it could have easily been ten or even twelve with the chances that the German side were creating.

Even though Germany triumphed by a handy margin as well, it can be said that their strikers weren’t having a good day in the office. In the first half Germany had twenty shots at goal with fifteen of them denied by wayward shots or Dominique Thiamale’s stubbornness between the sticks for Les Elephantes. Germany’s forwards are going to have to work out those jitters in their chances if they are to take wins against some of the stronger teams in the tournament – they’re not always going to get two dozen chances a half to fix their mistakes.

What Next?

The next matches of Group B will once again be played at Lansdowne Stadium on the 11th June where the real battles of the group may be taking place – Germany and Norway clash in what will be the deciding fixture for who tops the group, and Thailand and the Ivory Coast will also be needing the complete three points if they wish to challenge for that vital third place chance.

Goal of the Day

The goal that secured Celia Sasic’s hat trick seemed like a simple tap in for the long-time international but it was a perfect example of Germany’s efficiency and clinical nature in front of the goal mouth. A perfect cross into the box saw three attackers closing in and Anja Mittag selflessly layed it off for Sasic to deliver it into the center of the net with ease – a true team goal that speaks testaments of Germany’s prowess. Have a look at it in the highlights above (you may need to click through to YouTube).

Miss of the Day

Early on in the match Alexandra Popp looked set to double the 1-0 scoreline but the open goal mouth proved too daunting for the 54-time capped forward.

Another notable miss came with the Ivory Coast already nine goals down in the 81st minute as substitute defender Fernande Tchetche almost directed it home past Nadine Angerer in only the second attempt the German superstar had to come up against. Unfortunately for Tchetche, she hit it too hard and sent it petering over the top of the net to deny Côte d’Ivoire a chance to open their World Cup goal-scoring account.

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