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Women’s World Cup: New Zealand vs. Mexico (recap)

Recap

New_Zealand New Zealand vs. Mexico Mexico

Tuesday, July 5th 2011, 20.45 CET

I have to say, I didn’t watch this match entirely. But just like in the England vs. Japan one, my bet didn’t pay off. I was so relaxed when I saw that with 10 minutes to go, Mexico was still 2 goals ahead that I really didn’t care checking the score any more. And then what do you know? IT FINISHED 2 -2 !! New Zealand’s goals were scored in the 90th and 94th minutes of play! Well, anyway, none of these teams would have qualified, whatever the result (given that England defeated Japan, read about it here)

The Mexicans started the game very aggressively, scoring twice in the first half hour. It was a great start for them, but their enthousiasm quickly faded after hearing in the 15 minute that England had scored in the other game. Nevertheless, the first Mexican goal came in the 2nd minute of play. Stephanie Mayor came towards the New Zeeland goal from the right, and managed to get the ball between the legs of the goalkeeper from a short range. It was a wonderful team effort and a great boost for the Mexican team.

New Zealand tried to retaliate, but it took them more than 20 minutes before a clear chance could be seen. Midway through the second half, Rosie White had a shot at the goal, but Santiago streched to clear it. The ball Mexico and New Zealand footballreached Amber Hearn, who shot it wide on the rebound. Moments later, on the counter-attack and with the New Zeeland defense all over the place, Dominguez got a long ball from way back and caught it in a good position, sending it calmly past the goalkeeper. It was the 29th minute, and it marked Mexico’s second goal of the match.

The rest of the first half and well in the second half, the New Zeeland girls took charge and got better organized at the midfield. Santiago’s goal was tried several times, with the Mexican team seemingly tired or disinterested in carrying on planned attacks. It all seemed set in the 89th minute of play, with the Mexicans cooly staying in their own half and doing their best to keep the New Zeelanders away. However, Rebecca Smith headed a corner right into the net in the 90th minute of play and gave the team a tiny drop of hope. That paid off, since just moments before the final whistle, Hannah Wilkinson took advantage of the confusion in the Mexican penalty area to score at mid altitude past Santiago.

It was a dramatic ending, both for Mexico and for my 2-unit bet!

Women’s World Cup: England vs. Japan (recap)

Recap

England 2 – 0 Japan Japan

Tuesday, July 5th 2011, 18.15 CET

This match, although damaging for my betting bankroll and more importantly, to my reputation, has been probably the best match I’ve seen during this Women’s World Cup! I haven’t seen much of the New Zealand vs. Mexico one, but it couldn’t have been better than what these two teams played! For those of you who still haven’t seen it, it finished 2 – 0 (obviously), with England scoring in the 15th and 66th minute.

Two things went wrong with my prediction, but these definitely added some spice to the game! As you may recall from this post, I expected England to have a struggling midfield, and Japan to be quick on the rebound once they were at disadvantage. None of these were accurate yesterday. Surprisingly, coach Hope Powell made some unexpected changes, sitting captain Faye White and playmaker Fara Williams. Instead of the two girls, Sophie Bradley and Anita Asante were sent in. On the other side, Japan coach Norio Sasaki did not make any changes from the starting 11 she used in the previous game against Mexico. I would have done the same, honestly, that game went down perfectly! But it was clear that Powell’s changes made the difference yesterday.

The game started with both teams aggressively fighting for possession. Japan had the best chances in the opening minutes of the game, with Bardsley (England’s GK) being tested several times by Nagasato and Kosue Ando. However, Japan’s inefficiency in handling high balls proved to be fatal in the 15th minute, when White received a high cross from the midfield, and lobbed it high over goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori, landing the first goal of the game! The cross by Carney was perfectly designed to take advantage of the huge distance between the two defenders that were on both sides of White, but none near enough to make a decisive intervention.

The goal didn’t settle’s England’s appetite for more goals, nor did it demoralize the Japanese girls. After the 15th minute both teams went for possession and tried to build opportunites, but no relevant chance at goal was recorded. Great passing and patience from the two teams though. England noticed, and took advantage of the gaps between the Japanese girls, while the latter tried to overcome the defense on England’s flanks with some well-thought actions. In fact, 20 minutes after the goal, Aya Sameshima’s shot was beautifully cleared by the British goalkeeper, ending a great passing duo between Sameshima and Miyama. Seconds later, England had their chance of doubling their advantage, but Kaihori did great to divert another looped from the same White, giving the Brits a corner. The last chance of the first half belonged to the Japanese, who tested Bardsley with Miyama’s cross shot, punched by the keeper just until Yukari Kinga, who finished it with a wide effort.

England vs. JapanThe Japanese pressed hard in the opening minutes of the first half, and their excellent winged attack brought them an excellent chance to score. The same Miyama beautifully swinged in a tricky ball through England’s defense and landed it to Yuki Nagasato, who shot wide. The pressure continued after this chance, and England had a very tough time keeping the Japanese attack out of their area. Bardsley positioned herself well in the penalty area (unlike Kaihori), and knew when to catch and when to block. Overall, the English protected their goal tightly, and the Japanese didn’t find any openings.

Powell made a substitute at half-time which brought England a lot of relief minutes later. The hero from the game against New Zealand, Jessica Clarke was substituted by Rachel Yankey. The latter received a good cross while on counter-attack and kicked it over Kaihori and into the net in the 66th minute of play! It was a much-awaited goal for England, who seemed already exhausted after Japan’s pressure. The game seemed pretty much set after this goal, with Japan continuing to mildly press, while the English stayed in their own half for much of the remaining playtime.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable game. This was England’s first win against Japan, while Japan still has to beat an European team at the World Cup. The good news is, both teams make it to the quarter finals, with England finishing first in Group B, while Japan takes the runner-up position.

Women’s World Cup: Sweden vs. USA (prediction)

Prediction

Sweden Sweden vs. USA USA

Wednesday, June 6th 2011, 20.45 CET

Oh how I’ve been looking forward to this game! Aside from the France vs. Germany game, Sweden vs. USA is by far the most exciting game of these group stages! The two titans, who won everything until now (just like France and Germany), will go head to head on Wednesday evening in Wolfsburg, for the (most probable) prize of avoiding Brazil in the quarter finals. But I personally believe that this clash is more about prestige than points, and this game is likely to repeat itself during this very edition of the Women’s World Cup!

Let’s take a look at the teams. Sweden. They come after two tight, 1-0 victories, against Colombia and against North Korea. In both of them, the opponents managed, for the most part, to contain them and often to threat them (mostly in North Korea’s case). Nevertheless, the Swedes proved to be hard on their feet and stood their ground. They also showed us they can dance with joy! It happened after the goal against Korea DPR, when the whole team did a little dance. However, moments later this lead to a yellow card being awarded to one of Sweden’s key players, Caroline Seger, the Swedes’ playmaker. She will have to sit the USA game out, and this is not encouraging at all for the North Europeans. Granted, as Therese Sjogran says, Seger can be replaced by the likes of Nilla Fischer or Marie Hammarstrom, Sweden’s game will definitely have to be changed. Which I personally think it’s a good thing, since they seemed too predictable in both previous games. Maybe a change at the midfield will be refreshing enough to trick the Americans’ strong defense.

On the other side, the US of A are having the time of their lives: 2 victories, 5 goals scored and none conceded! Oh, and they also sang “Born in the USA” to their fans. Crazy, crazy girls! They held their ground well against North Korea in their first game at this year’s Women’s World Cup, and blasted their way through their second match, a 3-0 against Colombia and thus booked their ticket to the quarter finals. Their teamwork is excellent and the players seem to know each other very well. The passes go smoothly and the attack works like a spear into the opponent’s flanks. Their high tempo, especially at midfield can prove deadly for the Swedes, who now have to do without Caroline Seger. It will be interesting to see whether the Americans will use the same tactics used against Colombia or try something new in their last group game.

All in all, this will be a very interesting game to watch, and a golden opportunity to win some money by betting. Looking at the bookies, it seems to me that Bwin underestimates the Swedes at 5.75 odds, while a draw is worth 3.55. I honestly think the Swedish team is more dangerous than that, but still, could they win? I think yes. They work very well under pressure, and the Americans will surely start the game in high tempo like they did against the Colombians. The Swedes showed against North Korea that they can handle these situations, and with a refreshed midfield I think the North Europeans will beat the North Americans at a game of possession and eventually win the whole thing. I’m staking 2 units on that. That is my football tip and soccer prediction here.

 Prediction: Sweden to win for 2 units

Women’s World Cup: Korea DPR vs. Colombia (prediction)

Prediction

North_Korea Korea DPR/North Korea vs. Colombia Colombia

Wednesday, July 6th 2011, 20.45 CET

Group C, just like Group A, has already picked its winners. In this group, Sweden and USA each have 6 points, so that means that regardless of what happens in the last matches (North Korea vs. Colombia and Sweden vs. USA), the two teams go in the quarter finals. Thus, the Korea DKR vs. Colombia game will only provide a chance for the two teams to end their World Cup stage with a victory. Too bad for the two teams to have ended up in a group with such giants. At least North Korea, despite ending up in a group with Sweden and USA last edition (2007), they managed to go into the quarter finals, where they eventually got eliminated. Now it seems the two teams will pack up early.

North Korea did well during the World Cup’s 2007 edition, despite heavy adversaries. This year too, the Korea DPR team stood their ground admirably against Sweden, in a match in which for over an hour the two teams were equally matched. Maybe what they lacked was a bit of luck, because tactics-wise they were arguably superior to the Swedish. Nevertheless, add to that game the defeat against the US and you get a pretty disappointed squad. Pity, because they were clearly eager to win last time, and gave the Swedes some really frightening moments towards the end of the game. All in all, a good performance so far from Korea DPR, and a victory against Columbia would, I think, bring justice to the Asian squad.

Colombia, unlike North Korea, has no history of the FIFA Women’s World Cup except their participation this year. Which saw two losses so far. Though they somewhat managed to contain the Swedes during their first World Cup game, losing it just 1-0, they were totally dominated by the US, ending that game at 3-0. Right now their morale could not be worse, since their first ever appearance at this tournament turned out to be a failure. But maybe not? Maybe they’ll give an impressive performance on Wednesday? Honestly, I don’t think so. They barely managed to contain Sweden, and granted that can always happen again (though it was not the case against the USA), North Korea will be much more motivated and able to win.

As for my football tip or soccer prediction (trying to use as many keywords as possible 🙂 ), I will go for a North Korean victory at O2.5. So that’s two bets: first, two units on North Korea at 1.5 odds on Bwin, and second, 1 unit on O2.5 bet at 2.00 odds at Bwin. Though I’m not sure about my second bet, I can confidently suggest the first one: go with North Korea guys, they’ll go all Russian on their asses!

 Prediction: North Korea to win for 2 units and O2.5 for 1 unit.

Women’s World Cup: Equatorial Guinea vs. Brazil (prediction)

Prediction

Equatorial_Guinea Equatorial Guinea vs. Brazil Brazil

Wednesday, July 6th 2011, 18.15 CET

This is a match which I would watch because of the sheer awesomeness of Marta’s play, not at all for its importance in this year’s edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Brazil is already qualified, and Equatorial Guinea is already eliminated. I guess you can say that this match shows just “how much” the situation is so. But unless you’re a true Equatorial Guinean or Brazilian fan, I’d recommend you check out the other, seemingly more exciting game of group D between Australia and Norway, held in Leverkusen at the same time. As for Brazil’s last group game, granted it would be fun to watch, it’s better to keep it as a sports betting option.

Brazil vs AustraliaEquatorial Guinea comes after two close defeats, one against Norway in the first game and one against Australia last weekend. They’re already eliminated, and after their last defeat, they’re definitely way down morale-wise. Ever more so because their last game is against Brazil, by far the toughest rival in Group D. I don’t think they can save face in that one.

Brazil is at the total opposite end of the morale spectrum. They’re showed their magic against Norway (3-0), and they have yet to concede a goal. They’re already qualified and statistically, they’re better than either Sweden or USA, their potential quarter final rivals. Perhaps they’ll be resting their main players, Marta included, for Wednesday’s game against Equatorial Guinea. After all, I don’t expect them to have a hard time winning that game.

The bookies are making it obvious: with only 1.06 odds for Brazil, why even bother betting? If you’re fine with the .06 spread, go for it, but mark my words: don’t bet the ranch. However sure a bet seems, it’s still a bet, and you should still be cautious. More interesting here would be to bet on the score, in which I would go for an O2.5.

Prediction: Brazil to win/over 2.5 goals scored

Women’s World Cup: Australia vs. Norway (prediction)

Prediction

Australia Australia vs. Norway Norway

Wednesday, July 6th 2011, 18.15 CET

The clash between Australia and Norway on Wednesday in Leverkusen will be decisive for establishing the runner-up in Group D at FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011. It’s a huge opportunity for noth Australia and Norway! Australia just needs a draw in this one, while Norway has to win in order to secure a quarter final spot. They come after very different results, but they’re after the same goal on Wednesday.

Australia has been improving a lot since their performance in China during the last edition of Women’s World Cup. They made an extraordinary game against Equatorial Guinea last week, winning the match 3 to 2, and clearly dominating every aspect of the play. Once again, as it happened in Men’s World Cup 2006, Australia was let down by the referee. But this time the error was way more obvious than in 2006: Gyoengyi Gaal of Equatorial Guinea held the ball for about 2 seconds before dropping it for the keeper. The Hungarian referee did nothing! Nevertheless, they won that game beautifully. And before that they gave Brazil a hard time, losing 1-0 in the end.

Norway, on the other hand, comes after a mind-blowing 3-0 defeat against Brazil on Sunday. Nevertheless, the North Europeans surprisingly and aggressively dominated the first 20 minutes or so of the game. The Brazilians didn’t expect this and were confused and uncomfortable with defending. Then came Marta, scored once and in the end she managed to turn the game around in Brazil’s favour. Don’t forget though, the Norwegian girls won the cup in 1995, and they’re regulars to the Women’s World Cup championships. They’ve showed what they’re capable of strategy-wise, but in every game so far (especially the first against Equatorial Guinea), they missed the final touch or a glimpse of luck with most of their goal opportunities.

The Matildas met the Norwegians in the previous edition, in China. Back then the group game ended 1-1 and the Matildas went on to the quarter finals, only to be smashed by Brazil. Now, should they go on, they will face either Sweden or the USA, two of the best teams in the tournament so far. One step at a time, girls, and you may make it!

The bookies give Norway the first chance in this game, rating them at 2.35, while Australia has 2.9 odds and 3.2 odds for a draw. I’d say the price on Australia is definitely worth going for, considering their high morale and great shape! Remember, Norway struggled a lot against Equatorial Guinea and lost massively against Brazil. Australia did better in either of those games, and now with a better momentum they definitely have what it takes to go through the next round. My football tip or soccer tip for you Aussies is to go with Australia! My prediction is that they’ll win 2-1 or even 3-2 (although unlikely), with the victory goal coming towards the end. The Norwegians cannot handle pressure that well, and if they’re put off with a goal right from the beginning, they may eventually equalize, but in the end Australia will have what it takes to score again. 2-1. I’m betting 2 units on an Australian victory!

Prediction: Australia to win for 2 units.

Women’s World Cup: France vs. Germany (prediction)

Prediction

France France vs. Germany Germany

Tuesday, July 5th 2011, 20.45 CET

This last game of Group A is by far one of the most exciting ones from this year’s edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup! Although both teams are already qualified, this duel is a classic for the Women’s World Cup. The only prize tomorrow in Mochengladbach is the first place in Group A, and a seemingly-easier quarter final match.

But, maybe more important than that, it’s the pride and prestige that the two teams are after: they met 9 times during the past editions of Women’s World Cup, and 7 times Germany won, while France defeated their neighbors only 2 times. The French are looking to  reduce the difference, while the Germans want to please their own supporters at home. All in all, it’s going to be a very exciting game, and one that just might happen again this World Cup!

Germany vs France

Momentum-wise, both teams are in great shape. Maybe France more than Germany. After a hard-fought 0-1 with Nigeria, the French girls went wild against Canada, winning the game 4 to nothing! They have a super morale ahead of tomorrow’s game, and they definitely want to cash that in. France’s outstanding performance appears as a surprise to many spectators, who were used to a much more timid side. This year however, the French are aiming high, and they’re aiming at the trophy the Germans won last edition. IT’S ON!

As for the Germans, although they won both their matches so far, they weren’t as spectacular as expected. They finished the first game against Canada at 2-1, after a half-time score of 2-0, and although they dominated the game against Nigeria, it was hard for them to find the net. The Germans, of course, have the advantage of the crowds, who will be flying red, black and yellow all over the Mochengladbach stadium tomorrow. Nevertheless, coach Silvia Neid will have to deal with some injuries: Melanie Behringer is doubtful after an injury against Nigeria, while Linda Bresonik has stomach problems. The French girls, on the other hand, are all fit and ready to play!

However the score ends, it’s going to be a full show out there tomorrow, definitely one worth watching! Looking at the odds, Bwin clearly underestimates the French girls, giving them 5.5 odds, while the Germans are rated at 1.57 and a draw is worth 3.8. Though it’s very tempting to go with a French victory, my football tip is to go for the draw: both teams will be happy with the result, and they’re more in for the show than the result anyway. My sports bet? 2 units on a draw.

Prediction: Draw for 2 units