New England Soccer Today

A Battle Of Wills Awaits

Photo credit: Debby von Winckelmann

Photo credit: Debby von Winckelmann/Prost Amerika

There’s no debating that Tuesday’s U.S.-Germany semifinal match is going to be a true battle of titans. One (Germany) vs. two (U.S.). This is the kind of match that the entire world gets excited about.

For the U.S., Tuesday’s match will be about keeping its superb form on defense. They haven’t conceded a goal since their first group stage match against Australia – a run of 423 minutes without conceding. Hope Solo has been good, but hasn’t been truly tested during the last few matches. Germany averages 12 shots on goal per match, so Solo will have to be on top of her game for this one.

One thing that bodes well for the U.S.: Germany did not play like the better side in their quarterfinal win over France last Friday. Their back line has been playing flat, and it almost cost them the game in the 117th minute. In many respects, they were fortunate that the match went to penalties, all of which they converted to send them on to the semifinal.

Germany keeper Nadine Angerer has been stellar this summer. She has only conceded three goals during the tournament, and two of them were due to defensive breakdowns.

But Germany’s World Cup star is 27-year-old Celia Sasic. To date, she’s scored six goals this tournament, including a hat trick against the Ivory Coast. Sasic is a cool customer, as evidenced by the faith the coaching staff placed in her to take the 84th minute penalty in last week’s semifinal. Sasic has speed, power, and finishes with the best of them. If anyone is going to snap the U.S.’s lengthy shutout streak, it’ll probably be Sasic.

Sasic, of course, isn’t the only one capable of putting the ball in the back of the net. Germany has scored 20 goals during their World Cup run, and has not been kept off the board in their first five matches. They are an offensive juggernaut, to say the least.

How will the U.S. beat Germany? It’s going to start with shutting down Sasic, first and foremost. After that, it’s going to be about creating offense. Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday both sat out last game due to bans for caution accumulation, and both will be well-rested. They’ll need to run up and down the field with purpose, and look for chances to score.

Another positive development for the U.S. was that their passing was better against China on Friday. But to beat Germany, Rapinoe is going to have to be at her best. Whoever is starting up top with Alex Morgan needs to make sure that they avoid the offside flag.

The U.S. will need its offense to hit top gear against Germany. As good as the U.S defense has looked so far, there’s a good chance Germany will find a way to score.

That said, the top-ranked Germans aren’t unbeatable. Like the U.S., they have underperformed at the tournament. Germany should have lost to France. The U.S. hasn’t dominated a game from start to finish, and they aren’t putting away chances. Those misses could prove fatal against Germany.

This game will serve as a fierce challenge for each side. The two best teams in the world are playing at 7pm on Tuesday. The side that comes out on top will play against the winner of the Japan/England game in the World Cup Final. The losing teams will play in a 3rd place match.

Prediction: U.S. wins 2-1 in extra time.

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