June 11: Matchday 5
New Zealand 0 – 1 Netherlands
I was only able to watch about 20 minutes of this game (see below in the Notes), but I followed along electronically the best I could. From what I can tell, this was not one of those games which requires us to ask whether New Zealand deserves credit for shutting down the Dutch, or the Dutch deserve blame for failing to create anything. Rather, it’s one of those games where the Dutch created a million chances and eventually one of them went in.
Compare, for example, these two performances:
xG map for Argentina – Japan— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) June 10, 2019
a proper, creditable world cup bus-parking by Argentina, utterly shut Japan down around the penalty area pic.twitter.com/6nM25QJ3vD
xG map for New Zealand – Netherlands— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) June 11, 2019
the Dutch pushed and pushed and got a highly deserved stoppage time winner pic.twitter.com/ekaIHuAmGn
xG isn’t the end-all and be-all, but it certainly tells part of the story. And the story here was: the Netherlands were unlucky in their finishing. And considering the lethal strikers they have at their disposal, there’s no particular reason to think that will continue. Again, not having watched most of the game, I’d caution against assuming that the Dutch are in trouble.
For New Zealand, this was an agonizing result. To hold out for 90 minutes only to concede at the death will be frustrating beyond belief. But they didn’t really need anything from this game. They kept their goal difference down against the high-scoring Dutch, which likely ensures that a single victory will be enough to make them one of the advancing 3rd-place teams. Anything beyond that is gravy.
Chile 0 – 2 Sweden
Unlike the day’s first game, this was an example of a heavy favorite being unable to break the deadlock because they genuinely just couldn’t create enough chances. But unlike yesterday’s masterful team defensive performance from Argentina, Chile was merely solid. They set up their defensive block, and waited for Sweden to come at them. And it mostly worked.
The opening fifteen minutes were nervy, and Sweden looked like they were inching closer and closer to the goal. But instead of heightening, the pressure began to ease. By the 60th minute, it increasingly felt like we were in for another 0-0.
But then came the weather delay. After a lengthy wait for the lightning to depart, the teams came back out, and Sweden finally seemed to have developed a bit of urgency, and an understanding that going wide and sending in crosses is not a complete strategy. And so the goal finally did come, and then another to seal the deal.
It wasn’t a great performance from Sweden, but they got the job done. Meanwhile, Chile did more than enough to do themselves proud, without quite ending up with anything to show for it.
USA 13 – 0 Thailand
I talked about my thoughts here.
I have literally nothing to say about the specific content of the game. We learned no lessons, and there is nothing important here to analyze. The US got the three points they were always going to get. Time to move on.
– This afternoon, I took the train from Paris to Reims to catch the US game. It was extremely fast. I love the trains of Europe so very much.
– My plan was to get to Gare de l’Est an hour early and catch the first half of New Zealand-Netherlands in a bar or café. But I couldn’t find a single place showing it! To be somewhat fair, that was partly because TVs are less ubiquitous in Parisian establishments than in US ones. And I managed in my broken French to ask in several places with TVs if they would put it on (French friends: does “est possible de regarder la Coupe de Monde Feminin?” mean what I think it means?), but they didn’t have the channel.
– One underrated storyline: the US just played its first game of the World Cup. One day later, France will play its second. If that quarterfinal does end up happening, that means the US will have played five games in 18 days, while France will have played the same number of games spread out over 22 days. That extra little bit of rest could make a real difference.
– My official position on the Hope Solo/Jill Ellis ‘controversy’ is that I don’t care about it at all and you shouldn’t either.
– For those keeping track, these are the Official Players of the Backline Soccer Women’s World Cup daily column: Barbara Bonansea (Italy), Sydney Schneider (Jamaica), Lorena Benítez (Argentina), Miranda Nild (Thailand).
- Nigeria – South Korea. The two teams from Group A that lost their first game. South Korea were blitzed by France, while Nigeria played Norway a bit more evenly. But it all resets here. In this format, though, even three points is usually enough to make the next round, so neither are anything close to out.
- Germany – Spain. The two winners from Group B, neither of which really performed up to expectations. Both faced teams that mostly sought to frustrate rather than create, so this will be a very different test. Germany will be missing Maroszán, after the referee in the previous game allowed China to kick her to pieces, which is a big loss. But if there’s any country in the world that can survive her absence, it’s probably Germany.
- France – Norway. This should be a much sterner test for France than their opening match. If they can brush Norway aside as easily as they did South Korea, they will truly lock down their status as World Cup favorites. For Norway, with three points in the bag, they can treat this as a bit of a freebie, which might give them the freedom to find a result.