Sweden and Nigeria 3-3
This was the game to watch yesterday. Sweden and Nigeria, in the group of death, came out swinging in their first game of the tournament. In the first half, 21 minutes in, Nigeria’s Desire Oparanozie scores an own goal to put Sweden ahead. Ten minutes later, Sweden’s Nila Fischer slots the ball in the back corner as it trickled across the penalty area, putting the Swedes up 2-0 at halftime.
Nigeria isn’t going to take this lying down. Second half starts and five minutes in, Ngozi Okobi receives a ball in the box, turns, fires a glorious shot into the back of the net. Three minutes later, Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala gets a great through-pass up top and simply out runs her defender. She puts the ball past the keeper and it’s all tied up, 2-2. Sweden isn’t going to give up their lead that easily. At minute 60, Lisa Sembrant puts the finishing touch on a beautiful series of Arsenal-like passes and makes it 3-2. All Sweden needs to do at this point is hold on to this lead, but they just couldn’t. With their speed and fitness, Nigeria had Sweden looking tired and eventually capitalized by getting another through ball to Francisca Ordega, who blew by her defender and scored the final goal of the game with just three minutes to go. The group of death is living up to it’s name, and watching both of these teams in their next games later this week should be thrilling.
Cameroon and Ecuador 6-0
Cameroon and Ecuador was another game that was a bit hard to watch. Partially because the disparity of the two teams and partially because it was on at the same time as the USA-Australia game. Ecuador got run over by Cameroon, literally and figuratively. This young team looked frustrated by Cameroon’s speed and skill leading to three yellow cards and a red card for Ecuador. Giving up three penalties, two for fouls, one for a hand ball, the score looked worse than the 53/47 possession breakdown would have you think the match was. Cameroon put together some nice goals and it looks like they have a good chance of advancing to the knockout round after today’s performance.
USA and Australia 3-1
A game between familiar foes rounded out the first games for the group of death. The USWNT struck early, as Megan Rapinoe fired a shot from outside the box that deflected off an AUS defender, leaving the keeper with nothing to do but dig the ball out of the net, only 12 minutes in. The tension only grew after that, and kept growing after AUS’s Lisa De Vanna was left wide open to tie things up, 1-1. at minute 27. The score would remain tied into halftime. The US has been a second half-team of late, partially due to their fitness and depth, and it showed when the teams came back on the pitch. In the 61st, Sydney Leroux was able to beat her defender with speed, not easy against any Australian team, passed the ball back to the feet of Christen Press who on one touch, placed it in the far corner. To finish it off, Rapinoe scored again at minute 78, as her defender gave her way too much time. Rapinoe carried the ball for nearly half the field and took her shot from inside the box to make it 3-1. This win was important for the US especially with the tie between Nigeria and Sweden earlier that day. US leads Group D currently, but two games still remain.
Japan and Switzerland 1-0
Japan and Switzerland was a quiet game for the most part, but started with a roar. In the 28’ minute, Swiss keeper Gaelle Thalman came out for a save but ended up fouling Japan’s Kazoe Ando. The foul meant a penalty which Japan’s Aya Miyama made look easy, making it 1-0 for the rest of the game. These two teams are evenly matched, possession was fairly level, but the Swiss team actually looked stronger, especially in the second half. Japan has a terrific style of play, and are great to watch, but had it not been for that penalty, it likely would have remained a 0-0 match.
England v France 10am PT
To put it simply, I want England to win, but I think France will come away with this one. Their program has come a long way in the last few years. Both teams can be physical and compete with the top dogs, despite neither having previously won a World Cup, so it should be a tight game to say the least.
Spain v Costa Rica 1pm PT
Spain will likely come away with this, purely on experience. However, Costa Rica’s men’s team was one of my favorites to watch in their World Cup, so I’m hoping the women bring some of that same style and tenacity to this game to make it an even fight.
Colombia v Mexico 1pm PT
Mexico is a familiar team on the scene and on the right day is definitely one to be reckoned with. Same could be said of Colombia. This will be an aggressive game but I think ultimately Mexico will get three points here.
Brazil v Korea Republic 4pm PT
This is the game I’m most excited for today. We saw Korea play in friendlies prior to the World Cup against the US, and they looked great. Brazil on the other hand has struggled with support in their home country, but has Marta, easily one of the best players in the world. Keep an eye out for her to go toe-to-toe with Ji So-Yun, dubbed the “Korean Messi.” I think there could be some exciting goals for the tournament highlight reel here.
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