WWC Final: United States of America

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Here we go! There are only two teams left and Monday morning is what we’ve all been waiting for! Can the United states end their drought and take home the World Cup, let’s find out.

The story so far

Jill Ellis and her troops have made the final amid much media speculation that they were not as good as everyone had expected them to be. A 3-1 victory against Australia, a 0-0 draw with Sweden and a 1-0 win over Nigeria was enough to see the number two nation in the world top Group D and book a Round of 16 berth.

Team USA clashed with Columbia where the red, white and blue dispatched the tournament surprise packet 2-0 to see them qualify for the quarter final. The Americans put in an improved showing and didn’t look like missing out on qualification after they gained ascendency in the match, albeit after the South Americans were reduced to ten players.

The Americans met China in the quarter final and again took out the match despite not completely controlling play or looking comfortable. In the end the Americans proved too powerful for a team which realistically had made it further in the competition than they probably should have. Once the US got their one goal lead they choked the Steel Roses out of the match.

The red, white and blue hit their straps against Germany in the semi-final and finally proved that they have all the skills required to win the tournament. The former two-time World Cup winners ran riot in the German midfield and allowed the number one nation in the world little time and space to play their natural game. The Germans didn’t even look like they were a chance to qualify for the final and the 2-0 victory booked the Americans a place in the World Cup Final against defending champions, Japan.

They’ll beat Japan because…

They’ve improved so far with every match and it’s frightening to think how good they will be in the final. The seasoned performers of Abby Wambach, Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday have been fantastic so far in the tournament and combined with the tactical and managerial nous of Jill Ellis the Americans are dangerous all over the park.

If they can get time on the ball the Japanese will struggle to get a foothold in the match. The Americans look best when they dictate the pace of the game, slowing it down and speeding it up at will. Their natural game is to knock the ball around at the back until they can find a channel to play it out from, usually up the flanks before sending it back into the middle. That’s where the two central midfielders in Rapinoe and Holiday are vital. It’s their ability to find a target and hit it accurately that gets the American strike-force in behind their opponent’s defence. If they control the midfield, like they did against Germany, they will win the match.

They’ll be knocked-out by Japan because…

The fourth ranked nation in the world has been quietly going about their business and focusing purely on their own game. Many people had even forgotten about them until they eliminated the Matildas. Their cover has well and truly been blown now though and everyone is expecting the defending champions to put up a big fight on Monday morning.

It’s no fluke that they have made it this far as they have already showed all the tools required to win. The key to their game is fitness and composure. There are very few teams whose cardio stacks up against the Japanese and America is not one of them, the Japanese players will not run out of steam even if it goes to extra time. But their composure is what allows them win matches. It was displayed brilliantly against Australia and as the Matildas got desperate and looked for the long ball with the clock winding down, Japan simply stuck to their game plan of using their technical touch-pass football to get in behind the Australians and score the goal they needed to progress. If the Americans panic, advantage Japan.

Will they win the World Cup?

Yes, absolutely. It’s beyond argument after their semi-final win. They will deservedly enter the match as favourites which brings a lot of pressure and if they can’t deal with it Japan will have their chance.

Best moment of the tournament so far

Team USA’s game against Germany was the performance everybody had been waiting for. Journalists – including myself – have been critical of the Americans for their failure to dominate any of their matches in the tournament until they crushed Germany in their semi-final. It wasn’t simply their free-flowing entertaining attack that was impressive, the work ethic off the ball of every player on the pitch was exceptional and became the foundation for the stars and stripes to starve Germany of quality possession and go on to win the match.

Key Player

Megan Rapinoe is the key for both teams. She has been brilliant in every match and possibly the best player at the World Cup. Germany gave her far too much berth throughout the match and she ran riot down the left hand side. Failing to keep her on tight leash will mean Japan are going to have a very bad day. If the defending champions keep Rapinoe quiet the Americans may get frustrated while they look for another outlet, allowing Japan to get a hold of the game. Rapinoe is the key to everything.

Injuries/suspensions

There are no injuries or suspensions to report.

Predication  

The United States were seriously impressive against Germany and it’s a brave person who would go against them in the final. United States 1-0, Wambach for old times’ sake.

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