The final two teams to join the United States and Germany in the semi-finals of the 2015 Women’s World Cup will be decided today. The host nation, Canada, is looking to place themselves one step closer to the title and the defending champions Japan, who want to have the chance to win back-to-back World Cup titles.
Australia v. Japan
4:00 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
Commonwealth Stadium – Edmonton
These two teams met up in the 2014 Asian Cup with Japan edging out Australia 1-0 and they meet again in this quarter-final matchup.
No one expected the Matildas to make it this far. In fact, few anticipated them making it out of the Group stage, but at the moment they are one of the hottest teams still in the tournament, garnering more confidence and fans with each game they play. That is because Australia is overcoming the odds, not by luck, but with determination and fearlessness against the top teams in the world.
The Matildas have shown that they like to attack the net early and put the oppositions back line under pressure right away. From there, they play a patient game and move the attack forward when they can. For being such a young team, their inexperience does not show.
On the other hand, Japan is one of the most experienced teams in the tournament having won all of their games thus far. They faced little competition in the Group stage but were truly tested in their Round of 16 matchup against the Dutch. They were uncharacteristically outpossessed by the Netherlands but were able to find the net twice to help seal a win.
Japan’s style of play has not changed from the moment their tournament started — organized disciplined defense with a skillful and possession-oriented offense that will pass around you until left dizzy.
Japan’s game plan isn’t likely to change the deeper into the tournament they progress. They will need to be on the lookout for Australia’s counterattack and speed up top. Lisa DeVanna and Kyah Simon have been critical for the Matildas, and Japan will need to find a way to limit their impact on this game.
Australia comes into this game with two extra days rest and that could prove useful as the best way to beat Japan is to try and disrupt their rhythm and maintain pressure.
England v. Canada
7:30 PM ET – FOX Sports 1
BC Place Stadium – Vancouver
Canada is still chasing their dream of capturing a World Cup title on home soil, but their next roadblock comes in the form of an English team that is beginning to find themselves.
Canada navigated their way through the Group stages to earn a first place finish. Throughout the opening games, Canada struggled to form a consistent offense and dealt with a disorganized defense. They had their best match of the tournament in the Round of 16 against the Swiss.
England has also had a rocky path through the tournament, taking second place in their group before a thrilling come from behind victory over Norway in the Round of 16. The team continues to show perseverance in every situation.
Canada needs to find a way to get Christine Sinclair into this match. So far, she has had a disappointing tournament with only one goal that came off a penalty kick in the team’s opening game. Her midfield needs to find a way to get her the ball in the final third and give her opportunities to finish.
For England, they need to attack the young and sometimes sloppy back line with the play of Eniola Aluko.
These teams have traded wins against each other in the recent months. England took a 1-0 victory in the Cyprus Final in March before falling to Canada in a pre-World Cup friendly. But the only game that truly matters is the one that is being played today.
Before, during or after today’s matches, join the conversation in the comments section below with fellow soccer fans from around the world.
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