WWC Semi-Final: United States vs Germany

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The USA are now into their second Women’s World Cup final in a row after a game with two penalties saw the Americans stand triumphant as the eventual winners. Luke Robbs and Isaac McIntyre dissect the action.

What Happened

Germany and the United States were both given a chance to convert penalties after calls in the box but a failure to put it into the back of the net by Celia Sasic almost sealed the game against Germany with American captain Carli Lloyd taking her chance less than ten minutes later to claim the lead for the United States.

Lloyd also set up Kelly O’Hara for the goal that sealed the match with just over five minutes to go but it was a tale of two halves that proved that both sides deserve to be so highly ranked in the international standings.

The first half was total domination by the USA with any chances that the Germans created going to waste and Nadine Angerer called to defend against Lloyd and strike partner Alex Morgan for much of the 45 minutes. Any attack that the Germans were able to put together were quickly closed down by the American defence and the half time score remained 0-0.

The half time start saw Anja Mittag force a chance on Hope Solo’s goal with a header that went just wide. Germany’s penalty chance came off the back of USA defender Julie Johnston pulling Alexandra Popp down in the box which led to Sasic’s heartbreaking miss, just wide of the left post.

Lloyd’s penalty came soon after with Morgan being fouled by Annike Krahn in Germany’s box, and although the top-ranked Germans fought back valiantly in the dying moments of the game, O’Hara’s goal to double the lead put the game out of reach and saw Silvia Neid’s side fall to a semi-final defeat – not quite the swan song that Neid had hoped for in her final Women’s World Cup campaign.

Stand Out Performances

With both teams massive forces in the women’s football scene, and with deadly forwards that make teams pay for single mistakes, Nadine Angerer and Hope Solo were always going to be stand-out players in the match. Called on early and often with the United States’ attack breaking down Germany’s defence in the opening stages of the match, Angerer kept the score line level

Alex Morgan was an ever looming presence in front of goals for the United States and with 55% possession in the first half the American side were on the constant offensive, funneling their players through Morgan who was only denied by the skill of Angerer in her chances on goals. A defining point of the first half was Morgan’s one on one chance early in the half but Germany’s captain rose to the occasion, denying the United States striker.

Captain Carli Lloyd also shone as a pivoting midfielder/striker next to Alex Morgan, switching the formation whether America were on the offensive or not and her vital converted penalty in the 67th minute was crucial to the United States in the match. Deservedly, Lloyd was given the Player of the Match award for her penalty goal and her assist for the second of the match.

At the opposite end of the pitch, Celia Sasic proved why she is the leading goal scorer in the competition so far, taking over Alex Morgan’s role in the second half as the striker that was everywhere across the pitch. Her missed penalty though just before the 60th minute may have been the defining factor in the match that sunk Germany.

Talking Points

One of the biggest, if not the biggest, clashes of the tournament is now over and United States has proven that they deserve to be in the final of the competition.

Germany once again showed their second half talents in the match with switch reminiscent of their quarter final against France – the French side dominated for 45 minutes but couldn’t press their advantage and when the two-time European champions took to the field again they took control over France, owning the entire field with their presence.

What if Celia Sasic had buried the penalty just before the 60th minute and put Germany up by a goal with just over half an hour to play? If the ball hadn’t shot wide to the left there may have been a clear cut winner in the match with Germany already taking over the match in terms of veracity and attack and to put the United States down a goal may have put them over the top in terms of confidence.

With the incorrect penalty call going the way of the United States only seven minutes later and Carli Lloyd not making the same mistake, Germany could have been level in the match instead of trailing by one from Lloyd’s converted penalty, an advantage that America used as a base to double their goal lead and clinch the match.

What It Means

In the semi-finals the results of the games are rather simple – Germany goes home disappointed after falling to defeat while the United States now takes on either England or Japan in the final. There are no second chances or redeeming moments for Germany in the final matches of the Women’s World Cup – their chance is now gone with four years waiting in between before they can challenge at this level in the tournament again. Next time it won’t be under the watchful gaze of Silvia Neid. All eyes now turn to the second massive clash with England battling against the current World Champions Japan in the decider on who will fight to lift the trophy in the Women’s World Cup Grand Final.

What Next

The United States now have to play the waiting game to find out who their opponent will be in the final with the winner of Japan vs England scheduled to face the Americans on Monday morning. Germany will face the loser of the same fixture in the third place play-off on Sunday morning.

Needs Work

America finally put in the performance that everybody had been waiting for and there were very few holes in their game. They thoroughly controlled the vast majority of the match and allowed the German midfield little time on the ball. Their defensive work was also impressive with their high-tempo pressing adding to the frustration of the Germans. Being nit-picky, they probably had enough chances in the opening 45 minutes to have a lead at the break. It made little difference in the end though.

Germany on the other hand – somehow – despite all their talent looked completely out of their depth. The third place play-off will be no walk in the park and they need to find some new tactics or make a personnel change that allows them to have greater influence in the middle third.

Goal of the Match

The second goal for the US was great to watch and great teamwork. Smart lead up play by Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan allowed Carli Lloyd to run towards the German by-line and flick the ball across the face of goal for O’Hara to seal the victory on the volley.

Miss of the Match

No prize for guessing this one, Sasic’s penalty miss was a howler. She was by no means playing well and struggling to get into the game but when you win a dot-shot you have to give the ball to the Golden Boot leader. While Hope Solo is intimidating in goal there is no reason for a player of Sasic’s quality to miss. Take nothing away from the 27-year-old though as she’s had a marvellous tournament so far.

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