Japan vs. U.S.
6:00 pm CDT
The two teams that have met in the last two major tournament finals meet again in Canada in the World Cup Final today. Japan is the defending world cup champions, prevailing over the U.S. on penalties in Germany just months after the devastating earthquake and tsunami wracked their nation. The U.S. turned around and beat them in the Olympic final in London in 2012.
Japan is probably not quite the team they were in past years, lacking the one big star that led them in the past. Homare Sawa is still on the team, but at 36 lacks the pace she once had. They maintain their great technical ability, possessing the ball and passing better than perhaps any team in the world.
They lack the size, strength, and pace of the U.S., however, and don't really have the finishing quality that should threaten the U.S. Frankly I have a hard time seeing them break down what has been a terrific U.S. defense today, and I expect them to struggle to score.
The U.S. has looked much better late in the tournament after a difficult start. Changing their formation to a 4-3-3 (really more of a 4-2-3-1) really helped them control the midfield and connect with the forward players. Playing Morgan Brian in a holding role has allowed Carli Lloyd more freedom. They still haven't been able to put a lot of goals on the board, and I wouldn't expect them to do so today either, but they have looked much more dangerous.
Talk about it here.