USA has set up a quarterfinal clash against tournament favorites Brazil in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, a battle that is set to get underway on Sunday 10 July at Glücksgas Stadium in Dresden.
USA was hoping to avoid a quarterfinal clash against Brazil but a defeat to Sweden in the last group game meant that they could only clinch second spot, thus setting up a clash against the daunting South Americans who finished top of their group comfortably.
The rekindling of the rivalry between the USA and Brazil was always on the cards but, admittedly, most expected (or hoped rather) it would happen later in the tournament, when the stakes were higher, the bragging rights that much more considerable, and the prize larger.
USA and Brazil last met in the 2007 FIFA World Cup semi-finals, a battle that ended in a crushing 4-0 US defeat. Indeed, the USA would like nothing better than to avenge that result but what chance do they have, really?
USA’s Road to the Quarterfinals
The USA enjoyed a promising start to their campaign with a 2-0 win over North Korea. When they followed up with a 3-0 win over Columbia they secured advancement into the quarterfinals but where they would fall in the draw for the second round remained to be decided against Sweden.
The Americans maddening inconsistency, a concerning trend that has plagued the team this past year, however proved to be their undoing as it reared its ugly head in the last game. They were ineffective in the first half and although the Americans rallied towards the end of the match, Sweden, from the first to the last whistle, always looked the better team and easily outclassed the Americans to take the deserved 2-1 victory and top spot in Group C.
Brazil’s Road to the Quarterfinals
Brazil clinched top spot in Group D rather easily although they did begin their campaign with a nervy 1-0 win over Australia. The Brazilians though found form in the second group game, en route to a 3-0 thrashing of Norway. In the last game, Brazil beat Equatorial Guinea 3-0 to advance into the knockout stages with a perfect record and a clean sheet.
Given the first round of the FIFA Women’s World Cup it is no surprise that Brazil is heavily favoured over USA to advance into the semis. The Americans were clearly unable to withstand the pressure towards the tail end of group action. Not only did Sweden expose defensive issues but they also showed how the offensive arm can be rendered irrelevant.
Brazil has to like what they’ve seen so far from the Americans, a team that goes into the quarterfinals as the significant long shot, held at the disadvantage because – let’s face it – a win by them would register as a huge upset in the tournament. And if they do their homework like Sweden did, prior to the game, they are more likely than not to advance into the semis – just as they did four years ago.
As far as the other quarterfinals are concerned, England takes on France and host nation Germany takes on Japan on Saturday 9 July meanwhile Australian and Sweden go head-to-head on Sunday 10 July.