Once all the group stage games had been played, you could trace all match-up possibilities moving forward, which meant that there would be no Germany vs USA final, no France vs USA final, etc. Japan wouldn’t have to play any of these three teams in a semi-final game, and Canada (if they had made it past the quarter-finals) would have had a shot at a top three finish. I was really hoping for a France vs Japan final – that would have been electric. However, the USA vs Japan final will also be dynamite. Did you know the US WNT hasn’t won a World Cup since 1999?
The semi-final games delivered in terms of excitement and quality. The key moments during USA vs Germany were: Nadine Angerer’s first half saves in the box; Célia Šašic’s penalty kick miss, and Kelly O’Hara’s game-clinching second goal to put USA through to the finals. Japan vs England moments, on the other hand, were completely overshadowed by Laura Bassett’s own goal, which came at the worst, most disastrous moment in the game: 1 minute left in stoppage time, 2nd half.
Today, the Lionesses face Germany in the third place match. Here’s what their coach, Mark Sampson, had to say yesterday: “We want to achieve something special … we’re playing the queens of women’s football – but they’ve just been beaten and Germany don’t usually lose two in a row. They’ve got the greatest coach in the history of the female game and will want to win Silvia’s last match for her. We want to make history. The exciting thing about this England team is that they don’t know where the limit is, they want to keep evolving, keep getting better. We feel we’ve put the pride back into English football … Laura will be absolutely determined to lift the FA Cup … she and her team-mates deserve a hero’s welcome when they get home”. England has definitely been one of the breakout stars of the tournament.
Before the tournament started, scandal and corruption abounded involving dozens of FIFA executives. As a result, we won’t be seeing Sepp Blatter at the finals on Sunday, which is for the best. One can’t help but wonder how things will be moving forward, especially with the WWC. Will FIFA get its act together and bring in new leadership? I’m not sure, but the cost of corruption on the game is high. David Olive, of the Toronto Star, wrote a fantastic piece about this prior to the tournament starting: It’s not all Sepp’s fault: Why the sports industry is failing us. The relationship between sport and business is profound, but it is only part of the reason women’s soccer is not where it should be, the other part is just plain sexism.
No pictures today, but when I post about the third place match and the finals, I’ll be sure to include some of the latter. Yes, yes, I will be at the finals in Vancouver! So excited, can’t wait.