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

England vs USA Preview

England vs USA Preview: Lionesses To Halt Lightning American Start?

The evidence of England’s incremental growth under Phil Neville was on full display during their win against Norway in the quarterfinal. The attack shone, producing a display of clinical finishing, while the defence remained solid, and the Lionesses showed maturity and played with freedom and elegance. It was a statement; for the first time this summer, they truly lived up to their billing of title contenders.

For the second World Cup in a row, England will face the defending champions in the semifinal. By virtue of being the current holders, the USA would be considered favourites for this tie. They have not lost a match at the World Cup since 2011, and they rarely looked like losing in Paris.

Scoring an early goal always has a significant impact. Jill Scott’s strike against Norway set the tone for England’s performance, which was arguably their best one at this tournament so far. The Lionesses will undoubtedly want to get the first goal again on Tuesday, while preventing the USA from doing the same.

The only problem is that their semifinal opponents have mastered this art: not only have the USA scored first in all their games so far, they have also scored them quickly. The opening strikes have come in the 12th, 11th, third, seventh and fifth minutes. 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

Spain vs USA

Spain vs USA Preview: Will Spanish Chance Quality Prevent An Upset?

By the time the Round of 16 is reached in a knockout tournament, you can usually have a good sense of what to expect from a team in terms of line-up and tactics. Neither Spain nor the USA have given much of an indication what they deem their best XI to be.

Of course, short tournaments require careful squad management and, in the case of the USA, that is likely what we are seeing. For Spain, though, there is more of an uncertainty about how they should set up their team.

We have already talked about the Spanish team’s woes in front of goal. These woes have continued throughout the group stages. According to Michael Caley’s Expected Goals model, Spain have picked up one non-penalty goal from 5.7 xG in their first three games. Read More

Sweden vs USA

Sweden vs USA Preview: Two Powerhouses Collide

Both the United States and Sweden are among the group of favourites that could realistically win the World Cup. And both are quite similar in their general style of football, which became obvious on the first two matchdays.

Since the discrepancies in terms of physicality are still somewhat significant at this year’s tournament, teams such as the United States and Sweden seem to have a huge advantage over “smaller” sides. Both are able to bully those who cannot keep up with them in terms height, speed and athleticism in general. Read More

USA vs Chile Preview

USA vs Chile Preview: The Merciless March Onwards

With host nation France enjoying a strong start to the tournament through a 4-0 victory over South Korea, the United States were keen to make a statement in this opening round. They certainly did that. Such was the nature of USA’s 13-0 malevolent obliteration of Thailand, the statement made shifted from one about their own prowess to a wider one about the state of the mixed professionalisation of the women’s game.

Thailand’s team is supported by the private sector, specifically one single company, Muang Thai Insurance. This allows the squad to exist now in a professional capacity but this relationship does not go back long enough to have produced a generation of athletes on the same level that the US have.

The athletic and technical tiers that separated the two sides meant that the US would have sealed victory in this game with only the most basic of organisational preparation. This was not the case, however, and Jill Ellis started the match by showcasing her side’s default 4-3-3. Read More