June 25, 2011

World Cup: Day 1

France vs. Nigeria (9 am eastern)

This is the opening match of the World Cup and it will be interesting to see how these two teams attack one another. We could see a kind of feeling out process in the opening 20 minutes or so. France will try to use its experience and passing game to break down the Nigerian defense. Nigeria will look for openings for Nkwocha and Mbachu to operate.

The goalkeeping matchup should be interesting as well, with Sapowicz going for France and Dede for Nigeria. I like the French back line over their Nigerian counterparts. Look for Bompastor to get into the attack if given opportunities.

A pair of young strikers, one for each team could have a big effect on this match. Oparanozie will likely start for Nigeria and can beat defenses that are worried to much about her more experienced teammates. Delie normally comes off the bench, but has been starting more lately and she has been scoring goals in bunches.

Nerves could play a part in this opener as well, but I see it being a close match.

My Prediction: France 2, Nigeria 1

Germany vs. Canada (12 pm eastern)

The opening moments of this game could be telling in one respect. Look to see how the Canadians survive the initial waves of the German attack as they play before a huge pro-German crowd. Prinz and Grings will be the focal point early on, but Germany has many weapons. Germany is one of the few teams that can match Canada physically and the Canadians usually have problems with teams that can.

If Canada can weather the opening pressure and stay in the game until the intermission, they have a chance. The problem is that Germany has been destroying their opponents in the 2nd half lately, usually after their subs come into the match. In their four warmup matches for this World Cup, the halftime scores were 0-0, 1-0, 2-0, and 0-0. They then proceeded to outscore their opponents by a combined 12-0 in the second half, all against top competition.

Sinclair is a master at timing and shaping her runs, but the German defense is well aware of that and she will be marked closely. It may be up to one of the young forwards like Filigno to find an opening in the German defense.

The edge in the goalkeeping matchup of Angerer vs. McLeod (assuming she gets the start over LeBlanc) should go to the Germans, which isn't taking anything away from McLeod.

The Germans do not lose much when their substitutes come in. Look for Popp to be dangerous if she enters the match in the second half. Germany is just too deep of a team and it will be hard for the Canadians to withstand the pressure for 90 minutes.

My Prediction: Germany 3, Canada 0.