women’s world cup thread

Game 1: Canada vs China
– just have to create a thread here to say that penalty at the end was very pathetic. That referee has been blowing whistle Canada’s way throughout the 2nd half. At minute 90th, after all the hard-fought efforts by both sides. Pathetic.

17.jun.2015: Spain vs South Korea
– wow, that was close, hit the bar at 94th minute! But S.Korea makes it to 2nd round! and along with them is Sweden!! I was very impressed with Sweden in the only game i saw them, vs. USA . Well they’re going through, at the expense of Spain. First S.Korean goal was very nice. Second one: goal keeper was caught in no-(wo)man’s land..
– Onto 2nd round!!

world cup final in pictures

(i tried to out-maneuver the copy-right thingy but didn’t succeed. video is blocked in germany. but perhaps you can bypass it using proxy…, also try http://proxy.org/proxies_sorted.shtml –> i picked #5 = im-hidden.com and it puts me now in the Netherlands :-) , clear cookies also helps.)
some of the picture choices include team germany attending the final which i thought was a very good decision by the players. the slide show includes the various missed chances due to hitting post by team usa. also seen are the coverage team Japan gave to Abby Wambach (3 players, front, back, side) and the wrongly off-side call against team Japan.
music: Händel’s Sento Brillar Nel Sen, sung by Vesselina Kasarova.


i was gonna type up a recap of the impressive impressive women’s world cup final, but uhm…

yeah… uhm, suits…

japan vs usa

underway, the 2011 fifa’s women’s world cup , let’s have a clean and exciting game. usa attacking quickly…


i back after a full day… still couldn’t figure out exactly _how_ Homare Sawa scored that equalizer in the 117th minute since all the video footage was taken from cameras on the wrong side of the field… but here it is from a reverse angle, a bit blurry, still no idea how she managed it, amazing…

france vs sweden

current score 1-1 . this match is now getting very exciting. Öqvist JUST missed (hitting the post), followed by Thomis…
just before that Marie Hammarström is coming in, i wonder if she is related to Kristina Hammarström
yikes, a red card to Öqvist 😦 , not good, no like!!
now i’m waiting to see Jessica Landström hopefully being the 3rd replacement…

Sweden is 3rd in the world cup with a 2-1 win over France. In the previous match, the key midfield for Sweden (also team captain Seger) was injured, and her replacement Fischer was suspended. That could partially explained why they were thoroughly dominated in the midfield by team Japan. In addition, Lotta Schelin had a flu and they hypothesized that that’s why she couldn’t run or do much… It’s hard to say because the Japanese defense was also much tighter than that of the French team. However, in this match she was running up and down very actively creating chances for both herself and teammates. She’s again player of the match.

For the French, they weren’t as dominated in the midfield as in the past, partly because Sweden is good passing in the middle. Almost all of their shots (including the goal) are again from outside the 16.5m penalty area, similar to in their previous matches. That red card, hmm. I guess Öqvist should not have retaliated… Bompastor spent the rest of the match hearing very loud BOO from the crowd for initiating that kicking incident… But in the end, team Sweden created more threats and is the deserved winner in my opinion.

Having not seen Jessica Landström playing at all (except for a very short period during the semifinal match where she made couldn’t make any difference), I can’t really say much.  I know she played the first 2 matches in the first round which i didn’t see.  Then for the sweden-usa game, Öqvist started, and i can see why Öqvist should be a starter.  She compliments Schelin very well with her speed and she covers from midfield to the goal line, whereas Schelin plays very high up.  My guess is that it’s for this reason that team Sweden went with the combo Öqvist-Schelin…

Team France played a very nice tournament.  They need a better goal keeper (actually i like that substitute better than the primary keeper; at least she didn’t have a look on her face like shit the ball is flying in, what should i do…) and better finishers up front.  Young and super speedy Thomis could develop into a great player up front for France as she improves.

On a side note, i dislike ESPN commentators because all they talk about is usa usa usa. at the break, instead of discussing the match at hand, we get to see again and again and again AND again the various wambach’s headers as usa is now team destiny blah blah blah. that whole 15 min intermission, only 1 sentence about the current match: “team sweden deserves the lead”. then onto commercials and more replay of Wambach’s goal… argh! And that particularly woman commentator who continuously mentioned how many men are on the field. Even her male counterpart showed more awareness than her, “here we are, 10 players against 11 players, and Sweden is pushing…” . Why am i bothered by this woman’s comment? Let’s put it in perspective, if a male commentator made a comment in a male football match that there are 10 women on the field, he’d get bombarded with criticisms, possibly accusation that he’s degrading the players calling them “girls”, challenging their manhood, blah blah blah (especially here in the US where men are macho). So why is it that it seemed “ok” for this woman to say the opposite, clearly referring to women as men? It’s clear we have a strange double standard where as long as it sounds “normal”, “she knows what she’s talking about”, “it’s just the usual way we refer to things”, then it’s fine? grrr, bothers me!! and while i’m at it, also bothering me are those damn thing they put blocking the screen in the upper left corner advertising up-coming baseball games during the futbol match ack!! (I was trying to find an alternative link to watch the match but was unsuccessful…)

sweden vs japan

screen cap

here we are. I’ve taken refuge in euro-sport streaming online because they cover the game better and comment better. Japan team captain #10 gave a short speech to the crowd in her native language. It was then followed by the Swedish captain #2’s address to the crowd in her native language. The referees are holding “SAY NO TO RACISM” in the middle of the field, and all players joining them. Let’s start!

Öqvist, not in picture, scored Sweden's first goal in the 9th minute

Back to wrap up the game. AS the commentators said, total domination. Japan 3 Sweden 1. Amazing display of skills by the Japan. The first and only goal by Sweden was due to a mistake by Japanese captain Sawa, passing the ball in the defensive half too light. Super speedy Öqvist stole the ball and scored on a beautiful strike from the left side. That’s the only mistake Japan made. For the rest of the match, they completely controlled the ball in the middle of the field, slowly plotting attack.

Japan's captain, #10 Sawa, scored Japan's 2nd goal

Japan’s 3rd goal was a brilliant high ball from nearly 30m out into an empty net. Swedish goalie Landahl came out (her mistake) to try to clear the ball unsuccessfully and left the goal wide open. With or without that 3rd goal, Sweden didn’t even come close to finding an equalizer. They just could not get the ball back from the skillful Japanese players. In the last 3 minutes, Japan held the ball in the corner almost the whole time to preserve the score. Into the final they go. Hats off to Japan for another beautiful display of skills and another wonderful game. This gives me perspective on how much better Germany performed compared to Sweden. Those who think Sweden didn’t show up for the game today might not have seen Japan play. They are so skillful at keeping the ball in the midfield and disciplined on defense that it’s just nearly impossible for team Sweden to even get to the ball. It’s not Sweden giving the ball away anymore than Germany did, it’s just that the Japanese defenders are running much more and intercepting passes. Anyway, i promise not to talk about Germany anymore :-), and will enjoy the wonderful performances by team Japan.

usa vs france

usa is in the final after a 3-1 victory over france. The game is a lot closer than the score suggested. France controlled well the middle of the field for a large part of the game, as I have fully expected them to (they pass very well, similar to how I saw them during the match with Germany in the first round). Team France had so many good opportunities, however, the finishing touches were not there. Finally Bompastor of France scored an equalizer on a very long cross in. The Euro-sport commentator said she was surprised that Hope Solo (usa goalie) misjudged it. I (a novice at this) thought her positioning was to cover for the possible header from the flying-in Gaetane Thiney. As it turned out, both Thiney and her defender and the goalie missed the ball and it took a curl into the far side of the net, 1-1 game.
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usa vs brazil

this plan to stay up for the match failed badly as i woke up just after the game ended!  but i now back from watching the replay of the match.  what a come back.  that last cross by Megan Rapinoe to set up Wambach’s tying goal was absolutely amazing.  One can’t say that this world cup is lacking in drama.  an own goal, a red-card that should have been but not, an undeserved red-card, an unjustified re-take of penalty kick, an absolutely beautiful goal from Marta thanks to a cross from an off-side position, and a tying header from an incredibly accurate cross in the 122+ minute.  PK will always be PK, such a thin separation between winning-losing that sends 1 side screaming with joy right next to a collapsing side in tears.  onto the semifinal we go, USA vs France and Japan vs Sweden.  I’ll now take the approach of cheering for the good teams and hope for good matches with consistent refereeing :-).

ps- i think the booing of Marta was totally uncalled for.  at the referee perhaps, but what did Marta do?    She went for the ball in the penalty area and went down, penalty kick. it wasn’t diving.  (if we talk about diving, Wambach also did a couple, but that’s part of the game…). the penalty retake wasn’t her idea, she just took what the referee gave.  I saw the whole match, she is the most skillful and hardest runner on the field.  Cheering for the good team, sure.  Booing unjustified decisions by referee? perhaps.  Booing the best player on the planet for her hard work on the field, ugly.  Even in the Germany-Nigeria game, i didn’t hear this bad booing at Nigerian players.

sweden vs australia

wow, what an entertaining match!  First Swedish goal, looks like Australian goalie should have handled.  i like Sweden #8 a lot. very energetic runs and accurate passes (Australian defense on that right side is full of holes though….)  2nd goal was wide open.  Australian goal was amazing!!

near half time, sweden 2 australia 1

a match with olympic implication, not liking that part at all….


Back, with some photos per DtO’s request 😉

Here’s Team Sweden dancing celebration after each goal:

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germany vs japan

here we are.  garefrekes as captain.  Inka Grings to start.  Kim Kulig is back, as well as Behringer.  the whistle is blown!!!


I back to finish it…

Japan 1 Germany 0

(c) Scott Heavey, Getty Images

Japan played a better match in term of strategy and great ball control.  Did Germany, i wonder, overlook Japan?  They were slow to receive passes, non-accurate in passing. no running give/take on the wings.  There were only a few real chances and the finishers were just not as sharp.  In one example Garefrekes passed a perfect ball to da Mbabi and she missed the first touch right into the goalie.  In another, a Japanese mistake gave Grings the ball right into the penalty area and she fired it hastily wide.  Or the one where Garefrekes got into the penalty area along the right side and passed not to the player right in front of the goal but to Behringer on the far side near 16.5 m and Behringer launched it way over the cross bar…

It looked like Japan came in with the strategy of building a brick-wall super-tight defense and controlling the ball in the middle.  They succeeded in both.  This caused Germany to be very impatient.  At the beginning of the match, Germany got many chances to score (I nearly screamed my head off when Garefrekes got to the ball with her thigh right in front of the goal from a free kick by Behringer…)  But soon Japan got the ball in the middle and began to 1-touch pass VERY accurately between several players.  Germany running viciously trying to steal the ball, but Japan was sooo technically good with ball control and quick passing that it caused great impatience for the German.  As a result as soon as Germany stole the ball back, they immediately fired it up field hastily to try to start something.  Given that (a) they just couldn’t pass right on the point (many passes caused receiving players to run madly toward the ball, chạy thục mạng as we say it in Vietnamese, or got interrupted by a Japanese defender) and (b) Japanese defense was almost perfect, Germany lost the ball quickly up field.  Then the action again took place in the middle of the field with highly accurate passings between Japanese mid-fielders and vicious running by Germans.

Germany could have done the same, i thought, if they could just control the ball near the defensive side of midfield to draw the Japanese players running up.  But! this could not happen because after 2 or 3 passes, they lost the ball on the offensive side of midfield!  So, the combination of being impatient, inability to pass accurate and endless running circle around the Japanese mid-fielders (which tired them out),  I would say, are the main reasons Germany did not succeed in this match.  All that impatience played into Japan’s favor as they could counter-attack.  Japan’s main goals of not conceding a goal and living on the sparingly counter attacks both paid off.

As a die-hard German fan, I lost nearly all my hair in frustration (and spent my whole afternoon avoiding the internet, just wandering off on street feeling a bit lost…)  But that’s what a good team could do, caused frustration and mistakes using a very good plan and near-perfect execution.  Toward the end of the match, I was really hoping Germany could just string together 1 sequence of good passing + good finishing.  The longer the game ran, the less and less likely it was for this sequence to happen.  What i could say though is that Germany played a very good aggressive style (which was a bit hard to watch only because of the inaccurate passing, but one can not say that team Germany did not put in great effort).  This is in big contrast to the German men side before 2006 (or rather from 1986 – 2005) where they just sit to play brick-wall defense and live on counter attack (the exact way the impressively skillful Japanese was doing in this game).  I first liked them (Germany) way back in 1986 because even though they play ugly as hell, they always win in the end (or almost…).  “The ends justify the means, no excuse”, that was my mentality. Now considerably older, I appreciate the beautiful game more (hence the Brazilian’s style, i used to dislike them because they almost always beat Germany.)  So, for the super young german women team, hopefully they experience this lost well and move on to better success in euro 2013 and next world cup 2015! (but they need to practice passing better, 1 touch pass in super-speedy-pressing defense!! the give-and-go type of passing, the Spanish type during 2010 world cup!)

(c) Getty Images

though still quite sad, i off now to root for Brazil. My favorite player, Kerstin Garefrekes, is now off.  This might be her last world cup as well.  At some point later, i’d write up more about why i love her game…

Hats off to Japan, a wonderful game and biggest upset of this world cup so far.