Well, it’s that time. I’ve been a little afraid to make any definitive predictions. It’s not that this World Cup has been so unpredictable; it’s hasn’t been. It’s not that there have been so many draws (only 3), but the remaining teams are so close in quality that I am waffling. With that in mind, here goes nothing.
Germany v. Japan: This is the only match I really comfortable about predicting. Germany are going to be too good for Japan. Japan’s pretty passing is going to do absolutely nothing against the speed, strength, and organization of the Germans.
Sweden v. Australia: Sweden are on a high having beaten the (probably overrated) US, but the truth is that Sweden are not that good. Australia are very good, but has some clear weaknesses, particularly at center back. I am going to predict that Australia’s coach will make the necessary changes, and the Matildas will eke out a win.
England v. France: Unlike against Japan against Germany, France’s pretty passing will make a difference against England. England did a good job in beating Japan to win the group, and they are improving, but Kelly Smith is still not at her best. France lost badly to Germany and were heavily exposed, but I think that is going to galvanize the French who have talent to spare. I am calling this match for France.
Brazil v. United States: This is the big one; the one that no one wanted to see in the quarterfinals. Both teams have their defensive frailties, but only the US’s frailties have been exposed. Brazil also have Marta who could be the X-Factor. So many US fans keep talking about revenge for 2007, conveniently forgetting that the US already got revenge at the Olympics in 2008, robbing the Samba Queens of a chance to get their first world title. They want revenge just as much if not more than the US. The difference between the teams may very well be that whereas Brazil’s offense is incredibly potent (if not always consistent), the US’s offense has really only capitalized on mistakes of Colombia and North Korea, the two worst teams in the tournament. I am afraid that an early exit for the US means the end of the WPS (although a win may not save it), and I sure that an early exit would be the end of Pia Sundhage’s tenure. Nevertheless, I think this time the match is going to Brazil.