Japan vs. Germany
The FIFA Women’s World Cup is now in the Quarterfinals and the knockout stages, this match is between Germany and Japan at the Volkswagen Arena in Wolfsburg, Germany.
Germany come into this match as winners of Group A, but the hosts and two time defending champions haven’t looked like their usual dominant selves. The fact is captain and leader Birgit Prinz has been a shell of her former self and thus become a substitute in the last match, however the likes of Célia Okoyino da Mbabi, Kerstin Garefrekes and Kim Kulig have picked up the slack. Coach Silvia Neid will have liked the play of her young core, Kulig has been a strong presence in the midfield, Okoyino da Mbabi has been lively up front providing pace and finishing ability, while the likes of Fatmire Bajramaj and Alexandra Popp have brought energy and punch off the bench. If this team is to beat Japan and continue their quest to another championship they will need to use their size advantage, capitalizing on set pieces and getting crosses into box will be key to their success. Japan is a side that likes to keep possession and work the ball, Die Nationalelf will want to use their physical presence and send the Asian side a message from the opening whistle.
Japan had their first hiccup in the tournament, losing to England by a 2-0 score line and finishing runners up in Group B. Even though the score may not indicate it Japan had their chances to win the match, they had more shots on goal, more corners and much more meaningful possession. The one aspect that has already played a role in this competition is their lack of size, both of England goals were looping shots that went over the defense and keeper, this is something they can’t control but can cope with by keeping possession and using what is their biggest strength, their playmaking and passing ability. Coach Norio Sasaki will rely on captain and superstar Homare Sawa to hold everything together in the midfield and dynamic young forward Mana Iwabuchi to either get a starting place or make further impact as a substitute. This may not have been the match that Japan expected or wanted but they have the opportunity to spoil the German party and book a place into the last four.
I’ll go with the under in this match, both teams in their own style like to keep possession and work the ball. This looks like a cagey match up, especially in the case of Japan who will want to frustrate the home support.