We’ve gotten to the enterprise finish of the Group Stage, with Group A ending up their schedule and sending a number house earlier than the knockouts for the primary time. However that was overshadowed by probably the most important upset of the match to this point that blows up the draw a bit. Let’s run it by means of.
Match of the day: Colombia 2 – 1 Germany
That is the most important results of the tourney, in all probability extra so than Jamaica holding France to a scoreless draw — even when Colombia have extra pedigree than the Jamaicans. Germany had broadly been predicted to stroll this group, even with Colombia having some of the thrilling younger gamers within the match in Linda Caicedo. And this wasn’t any smash-and-grab the place Colombia simply obtained one properly positioned counter or one thing. They have been full worth–tactically astute, brash to the purpose of knocking Germany completely off their stride, and ruthless when the time got here. Germany can don’t have any complaints, although they did have a good few for the ref (not completely uncalled for both, however we’ll get to that).
For many of this match, the outcome hinged on how every staff was coping with the opposite’s main gentle, each of whom are 21 and below. Lena Oberdorf returned to the German staff after lacking their opener, and it was clear that the primary bullet-point on Colombia’s to-do record was to know the place she was always. Colombia’s entrance three with Catalina Usme behind them, particularly heart ahead Mayra Ramirez, have been decided to chop off entry to Oberdorf each time the Germans have been making an attempt to construct out from the again. Actually, Colombia sought to disclaim Germany any time in midfield, with each of their double pivot in Lorena Bedoya and Daniela Montoya urgent proper up onto the German #8s. That is what it regarded like numerous the match:
Positive, the primary body is off a dropped ball to the German keeper, however there’s Oberdorf bracketed by Colombia. They only weren’t going to let her have the ball.
On the opposite aspect, Germany may have handled the upper Colombia press than they have been anticipating by pushing their fullbacks greater and altering angles. However they have been terrified to try this, fearing what Caicedo and her working buddy on the opposite aspect Woman Andrade would do if given house after a giveaway or a turnover and such. Each German fullbacks clearly had directions to maintain Caicedo in entrance of them.
What you possibly can’t actually plan for, and Germany possibly ought to have been somewhat extra ready for (contemplating that Eire pulled out the “fuck this” card 20 minutes right into a closed door pleasant with Colombia, because of the approach that Colombia was pushing them all around the subject (and outright kicking them)), was how Las Cafeteras have been solely too completely happy to get in Germany’s face. Generally lower than cleanly so. Alexandra Popp took a shot within the ribs away from the ball. Klara Bühl obtained an earful from Carolina Arias after getting the ball and most of her decrease physique tackled away from her. For a very good portion of the primary half, the story was Colombia flying into Germany, typically actually, in each which approach. It was chippy however it was efficient, because the Germans have been undoubtedly listening to footsteps each time they’d greater than a millisecond with the ball.
Colombia pressured Germany to go lengthy, which normally isn’t an issue as Alexandra Popp will win most headers up prime. However Colombia was tightly drilled to get to the second balls and shut off any headers by means of, reducing off Germany’s wingers earlier than they may get there and outworking their midfielders to assert any headers that went backwards.
Getting again to the key protagonists, the factor about these gamers is you possibly can plan for them, you possibly can dedicate your ways to stopping them, however 90 minutes is a very long time and there’s in all probability going to come back a second the place they get free. Caicedo’s got here off a nook within the 53rd minute, and nobody’s going to give you a plan to cease this on any whiteboard:
No biggie, simply discover an alley that’s barely wider than the ball to pick the very prime of the very prime nook. As Warren Barton stated on the printed, there are World Cup targets that depend for greater than some extent on the board and can dwell perpetually. That is a type of, as Caicedo appears to be nitro-boosting herself down the street to finest participant on this planet sometime quickly.
Nevertheless, Colombia’s livid urgent is the form of factor that’s actually arduous to maintain up for a full match, and so they began to drop off someplace across the seventieth minute. Which meant they misplaced observe of Oberdorf popping out of midfield. First, she obtained herself within the match with one in every of her trademark tackles that may solely be described as MEATY. Right here’s a very good angle of it:
After which she misplaced her marker within the 88th minute and latched onto a beautiful contact from Lea Schüller, baited the Colombian keeper in, and obtained a nailed-on penalty for Germany to equalize:
So all completed and dusted then. Germany get out of jail, keep answerable for the group, Colombia will get a courageous level however stays in second the place they have been usually picked to be. That is what prime tier groups do, discover a approach even when they won’t deserve it. It’s what Germany does particularly.
These are all belongings you’d say should you hadn’t been listening to the defiance Colombia performed with all match. Throw in some curious German marking:
You may see Manuel Vanegas on the penalty spot with no German wherever close to her, as they’re all marking zonally throughout the six. A staff isn’t anticipating to get beat from a header from 12 yards, however that process turns into simpler once they have a free run at it. Intelligent little bit of play from Colombia who use the three gamers in entrance of Vanegas to maintain the Germans from getting out to this ball cleanly. However that is why groups that mark zonally normally use the additional gamers to man-mark farther up within the field, to stop precisely this.
And now the draw will get somewhat goofy. Colombia doesn’t have an easy process of their final recreation towards Morocco, however all they want is a draw to win the group. Germany might want to match no matter Morocco does, however are getting dumped right into a Spherical of 16 towards any of France, Brazil, and even Jamaica, after which 1 / 4 towards whoever wins the group between Canada, Australia, or Nigeria. Which would be the simpler route than the attainable quarter towards England they have been lining up, assuming England may even subject a staff by that time.
It was a real pleasure of a match, proper on par with France-Brazil the day earlier than, and a outcome that shakes the whole competitors. And it proves that the actually nice gamers are going to discover a approach, regardless of the planning that goes towards them.
Different outcomes: Norway 6 – 0 Philippines
On the opposite aspect of the tactical spectrum, now we have the Philippines. Whereas this was nonetheless a match within the first 20 minutes, there was clearly a plan to play in a low block, and use their two forwards of their 4-4-2 to chop off entry to the midfield and make Norway go huge. However you need to concentrate to try this, and the Philippines frequently lose sight of Vilde Bøe Risa on the base of Norway’s midfield, permitting her to get the ball and switch, which meant she was kicking Norway’s assault into excessive gear constantly, with both a merely five-yard go or huge switches out to the fullbacks who have been allowed to get ahead as soon as Risa obtained the ball. She may additionally put in crosses like this:
Maybe numerous sound and ink might be related to Caroline Graham Hansen getting pissed off and taking it out on the opposition, after she was dropped to the bench in Norway’s second recreation and wasn’t shy about discussing how she felt about it. Which led to this Hadoken:
Recreation. Set. Match.
Norway may contemplate will spend the time till their Spherical of 16 match placing Ada Hegerberg by means of a Clockwork Orange type therapy to get her in the identical mindset.
Switzerland 0 – 0 New Zealand
This was 90 minutes of Switzerland realizing they didn’t have to placed on a present and daring New Zealand to do it, as a result of they needed to. Particularly as phrase got here down that Norway was tonking the Philippines, New Zealand wanted a objective. However that is why you don’t lose to the Philippines at house after which assume you’ve got any proper to undergo.
New Zealand have been no much less toothless towards a Switzerland aspect that mainly saved an outstretched hand on their brow. Géraldine Reuteler, Lia Wäitl, and Coumba Sow, the three midfielders behind #10 Romana Bachmann, mainly fashioned one wall in entrance of Switzerland’s protection, which was forming its personal wall. New Zealand ran out of solutions when groups found out that their solely actual ploy was to attempt to get Hannah Wilkinson in behind, which Norway allow them to do with ease. As soon as that dried up, there was nothing. Three photographs on the right track in a recreation they needed to win just about tells the entire story, and even within the eightieth minute the Ferns weren’t throwing a large number of gamers ahead. It’s harsh, however they obtained what they deserved.
Morocco 1 – 0 Korea Republic
Some wins don’t actually should be damaged down tactically or statistically, they imply greater than that:
No longer solely the primary Arab nation to qualify, however the first to notch a win. For nations like Morocco that have really invested a lot into their program, you’d need them to have tangible markers to why it’s price it and to drive the work that comes forward. Nicely, right here you go.
Objective of the Day
Hansen’s belter would have gained this on most days. Haug’s looped volley to open the scoring for Norway would too. Ibtissam Jraidi’s would on one other day merely for it’s that means. However come on…
Know her now and for a very good lengthy whereas.
Did Alexei Lalas say something silly?
Eh, it’s the weekend and I gave myself a break from listening to halftime exhibits or pregame. You may solely take a lot, y’know? Nonetheless loads of time to go.
Comply with Sam on Twitter @Felsgate and on Bluesky @felsgate.bsky.social