In less than 12 hours, Montreal’s Olympic Stadium will play host to one of the most eagerly anticipated matches at this summer’s Women’s World Cup. Unfortunately for many fans, it will not be in the final played on July 5th, and only one of these two top women’s sides will have the chance at dethroning current world champions Japan. However, given that Germany and the USWNT are the no. 1 and no. 2 ranked sides in the world, this game will surely be one to remember for the ages and even more significant is the fact that whoever wins could have the opportunity at making history in less than a week’s time.
There have been only six World Cup finals contested since the inaugural event kicked off in 1991. The event at Vancouver’s BC Place will be the seventh. And of this sextet of finals, a whopping four have been won by the Stars and Stripes and die Nationalelf. Only Norway, in 1995, and Japan, in 2011 have had a chance at standing on that coveted winners’ podium. As such, should either team USA or Germany win against England or Japan, they would become the first ever women’s team to win the title three times.
Both Jill Ellis’s and Silvia Neid’s squads will be desperate to redeem themselves after suffering disappointment four years ago. And woe be onto Japan should they find a way past a hungry and determined English side as they hope to become the second side to successfully defend their crown. For players like Hope Solo and Nadine Angerer, widely regarded as two of the top goalkeepers in the women’s game, Japan at this tournament will evoke some bitter memories. The Germans were eliminated on home soil by a plucky Japanese side during the quarter-finals courtesy of a late goal in extra-time, this scuppering their chances of winning it three times in a row after an impressive 2007 triumph that saw Angerer keep a clean sheet throughout – from the opening group stage game all the way defeating Brazil 2-0 in the final.
Meanwhile, Solo, who was the starting shot-stopper in the final against Japan would have relived Homare Sawa’s 117th goal over and over again in her mind, as it was the iconic Japanese attacker’s effort that pushed the match to penalties and aid her team to become the first Asian side to lift the World Cup trophy. Of course, neither goalkeeper nor her teammates will be thinking that far ahead just yet as they know that this match will be their toughest ever of this tournament.
However, there are some interesting stats concerning this particular match, which has taken place three times prior. Whoever wins tonight is a clear favorite to clinch the title as happened in 1991, 1999, and 2003. Secondly, it will be a tactical battle to savor as the best offense will be pitted against the strongest defense. Neid’s ladies have netted 20 times so far, whilst Ellis’s women have conceded just once, meaning that both sides will be truly put to the test over the course of 90 minutes – or more of action.
Thirdly, the USA will be keen on avoiding a penalty shoot-out. Why? Well, obviously, the last they were in one at this tournament, all did not turn out well. And more concerning is the fact that Germany have never lost a battle from the spot, with their win over France making it a total of five wins in five for both the men’s and women’s sides.
And last but not least, both teams will be making history should they lift the trophy on July 5th, but for Germany it would be doubly sweet. No nation in history has had both the men’s and women’s teams win world titles in successive years, and die Mannschaft already completed half of that task by triumphing in Brazil last summer. The onus is now on the women to match that feat and they are 180 minutes or so away from making that dream a reality.