USA vs Netherlands Preview

USA vs Netherlands Preview: Can Oranje Stop The US?

Four years ago, the United States made it to the World Cup final. In 2015, they faced a Japan side that never really gave the Americans much of a game at all, and the US won 5-2. The Netherlands will be hoping to give the US a much tougher test this time. Can they do it?

In order to get here, it’s fair to say the Dutch didn’t exactly thrill us as they defeated Sweden 1-0 in extra time. This was the kind of resolute performance that you tend to see late in tournaments, with the Netherlands looking as though tiredness might be something of a factor. Nonetheless, they toiled away and a Jackie Groenen strike from outside the box was good enough to win on the night.

The US, meanwhile, contested a much more entertaining game against England in which Christen Press and Alex Morgan goals in the first half were enough to see off the Lionesses, though there were questions of game management as England came close to equalising a few times in the second half. Both finalists were just winners in the semis, but that doesn’t mean either put in flawless performances. Read More

France vs USA Preview

France vs USA Preview: Heavyweight Against Heavyweight

It’s the game we’ve all been waiting for at this World Cup. The betting markets generally have an implied probability of greater than 50% that one of these two will win the tournament. And here they are, facing off in a straight knockout tie.

The United States have been stunningly dominant until the round of 16 match against Spain, where they were merely good enough to get through. France, meanwhile, haven’t put up quite the same scorelines, but have nonetheless deservedly won all their games so far.

For the French, the side looks largely settled in the first two thirds of the pitch but there are still some questions in attack. Gaëtane Thiney and Delphine Cascarino have been rotated in and out of the side but both started on the bench against Brazil. Neither have really set this tournament alight so far, but could well return to the starting eleven, possibly in place of Kadidiatou Diani or Viviane Asseyi. It feels like France still haven’t quite found the right attacking balance. Read More

England vs Cameroon Preview

England vs Cameroon Preview: Could A Shock Be On The Cards?

England have mostly performed as expected in the World Cup so far, winning all three group games even if none came with a hugely dominant scoreline. Cameroon, meanwhile, have surprised people already by beating a more fancied New Zealand side to make it out of a tough group. Could they pull off an upset again?

Tactically, Cameroon play a very fluid and interchanging system. The official FIFA listings have generally had it down as a back three, and it does appear as such at times, but will often find itself becoming a back three as a “centre back” pushes into midfield or a full back rushes on.

There seems to be a greater than usual emphasis on marking individuals in open play over a zonal structure, which will occasionally cause the side problems as opposition players can escape their markers and find themselves free. In attack, things are similarly loose, with the passmaps often turning into something of a blur as players constantly move around during the game. This might be their best chance of scoring here, to play a predominantly counter attack based style of interchanging players that disrupts England’s shape. Read More

Nigeria vs France

Nigeria vs France Preview: Could France Tank, And Should They?

The World Cup has once again thrown up a curious mix of incentives, and France find themselves in an odd spot. With six points from the first two games, getting out of the group is secure, and anything less than a 4-0 defeat here will at least see the side finish second.

Winning the group would see Les Bleues face a third place finisher in the round of 16, but a potentially brutal quarter final against the United States could await. Would it be better for France to lose this game and get an easier run of games? How you feel about this might say more about you than the World Cup.

Many will argue that momentum is what matters, and building confidence with another win will help propel this side to a World Cup win. On the other hand, the risk of going out to the US in the quarter finals would be an embarrassing end for a France side tipped by many to win this home tournament. It seems unlikely that the French would just completely throw this game. It would not be a surprise, though, to see a few players rested for the knockout stage. Read More

England vs Scotland

England vs Scotland Preview: Facing the Auld Enemy

You want at least one spicy fixture in the first week of any World Cup, and England vs Scotland looks like it will certainly tick that box. England, seen by most as among the set of sides with a genuine chance of winning the trophy, will want to make a statement against the oldest of rivals, but a slip up here and finishing first in the group will be a hard task with a strong Japan side lurking.

Scotland, meanwhile, have a fighting chance of making it out of the group, and getting a result here will go a long way to making their first Women’s World Cup appearance a successful one.

If you haven’t watched England since the last World Cup four years ago, the biggest change is the style of football. Whereas Mark Sampson’s 2015 side were built on defensive resilience, Phil Neville’s outfit likes to play an expansive, entertaining game. The shape is likely to be a 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 system, with an emphasis on pushing the full backs high up the pitch to generate crosses. Read More