Mexico vs. Japan
The FIFA Women’s World Cup resumes with action from Group B, as Japan moves on after their 2-1 win over New Zealand to take on Mexico at the Bay Arena in Leverkusen, Germany who themselves picked up a good result with a 1-1 draw against England.
Japan was in complete control against New Zealand, taking the lead within the first five minutes. However credit should go to the Football Ferns for leveling the score a few minutes later, it just couldn’t last as the game wore on Japan showed their dominance and sealed all three points through a beautiful free kick by Aya Miyama, arguably the goal of the tournament. Coach Norio Sasaki and his charges will have a tougher test in Mexico but will take comfort in the fact that if they win they can seal a place in the Quarterfinals before the looming tie against England. The key for Japan will be to dominate in the midfield; the likes of Homare Sawa, Mizuho Sakaguchi and the aforementioned Miyama will need to overwhelm the Mexican defense. Applying pressure to the Mexican goalkeeper would be a smart tactic; Cecilia Santiago is only 16 years old and found it difficult at times against England.
As for Mexico, they probably pulled off the upset of the tournament as the picked up a point against a very talented England squad. The game-tying goal came in incredible fashion through Midfielder Mónica Ocampo as she shot from well beyond forty yards into the top corner, a goal that will also get heavy consideration for goal of the tournament. Mexico should look to build off this result, knowing their final match is against a New Zealand side that could be officially eliminated by that time. Going forward this team will need Maribel Domínguez and Dinora Garza to combine with greater effect, Coach Leonardo Cuéllar managed to do this in the latter stages against England and it almost paid dividends. The other aspect of the game where this team needs to be stronger is defensive midfield, sealing gaps and tracking runners will be top priority against a technically gifted side like Japan.
This match should be interesting; Japan showed their skill on the ball and dominance in possession while Mexico have put themselves in a good position and look to get another positive result. I’m going with Japan Against the Spread, I think they have the ability to frustrate the Mexican midfield and with a match under their belts and a chance to seal qualification they will want to show a killer instinct. I’m taking Japan to win this match.