A look back at the Olympic openers

Jennifer Gordon August 4, 2016 29

1607117 FranceMatch Day 1 of the Olympic soccer tournament is in the books. Here is a quick look back.

Group E

Before kickoff yesterday, perhaps the biggest question in Group E was how hosts Brazil would fare. After the first day of action, the green and gold look the part of medal contenders. The hosts stand on top of the group on goal differential following a 3-0 victory over China. Monica, Andressa Alves, and Cristiane all recorded a goal in the affair. For Cristiane, the goal was her record 13th in four Olympic competitions.

Sweden managed a dull 1-0 win over South Africa in the other group match Wednesday. South Africa was well organized and as predicted, made it difficult for the Swedes to score. With just over 15 minutes left, a cross by Swedish defender Nilla Fischer was mishandled by South African keeper Roxanne Barker for the game’s only goal. With three points, the Swedes are in second place in the group.

The winner of Group E will likely be decided Saturday when the two winners of Wednesday’s matches square off. Brazil will likely head into the match as the favorites given the team’s resounding win on Wednesday and Sweden’s less than convincing victory.

China and South Africa will face off on Saturday as well. Both China and South Africa will enter Saturday searching for a win as a draw will likely put them too far adrift for a spot in the knockout stage.

Group E

The Canada vs. Australia game was easily the most dramatic game of day one. Canada got off to a great start when Janine Beckie scored the fastest goal in Olympic history 19 seconds into the match. Things appeared to swing in Australia’s favor when Shelina Zadorsky was sent off 19 minutes in after denying Michelle Heyman an opportunity. Despite the player advantage, the Matildas failed to capitalize. After a missed penalty kick by Beckie, Christine Sinclair added an insurance goal in the 80th minute for the 2-0 victory.

Germany meanwhile demolished Zimbabwe 6-1 in the other day one contest in Group E. Melanie Behringer recorded a brace while Sara Dabritz, Alexandra Popp, and Melanie Leupolz each tallied as well. The other goal for Germany came off an own goal. Zimbabwe managed a goal of its own by Kudakwashe Basopo in the 50th minute.

While Germany battered Zimbabwe as far as the scoreline went, Zimbabwe clearly outclassed by one of the best teams in the world, resorted to extremely rough play. The African side committed a number of ill-advised tackles. Most notably, a poor tackle by Zimbabwe led to Simone Laudehr’s early departure in the 19th minute of the match. Given the short turnaround between matches and small roster size, an injury or two can derail a team even of Germany’s caliber.

On Saturday, Germany will face Australia while Canada will look garner 3 points against Zimbabwe – by far the weakest team in the tournament. A win on Saturday will put Canada on the fast track to the knockout round.

Group F

The defending Olympic champions got off to a solid start with a 2-0 victory over New Zealand. Defensively, the U.S. held the Football Ferns to a single shot on goal. Carli Lloyd recorded the first goal of the contest in the 9th minute, heading in a feed from Tobin Heath. Alex Morgan then provided an insurance goal in the opening minute of the second half. All in all, it was a fairly convincing opening game performance from a team that has a history of starting tournaments slow.

{CURREN: What we learned learned from USWNT 2-0 New Zealand}

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the match was the Brazilian crowd booing Hope Solo every time she touched the ball. In the second half, the spectators chanted “Zika” at the American keeper when she took goal kicks apparently in response to social media posted by the 35-year-old about the mosquito-borne illness.

In the last contest Wednesday night, France got revenge for its shocking World Cup loss to Colombia. Les Bleues got off to a quick start when just over a minute into the match, Catalina Arias recorded an own goal. France added strikes from Eugenie Le Sommer, Camille Abily, and Amel Majri en route to 4-0 victory over Colombia.

The real test for Les Bleues will come on Saturday when France faces the number one ranked team in the world. France, after coming into the last few major tournaments a favorite to medal, have come up empty each time. If France is to find themselves on the podium in some capacity come August 19th, a win against the United States would be an important step forward and give them control of the group. Meanwhile, New Zealand will face Colombia in other action in Group F Saturday. The loser of this match will likely be packing their bags following the group stage.

  • Steglitz49

    The author missed that Sweden lost one of their very best players, Jessica Samuelsson, to a severe injury. This will weaken them.

    Australia seems bang in trouble.

    As the US and Japan showed last year, reaching the final is a prerequisite to winning the tournament. How you get there is an intersting question. In OG-12 Sweden won their group in which Japan finished 2nd and Canada 3rd but Sweden went home without a medal. That is the way the cookie crumbles.

  • MurderOnZidanesFloor

    Unrelated to the above but there is some potentially big news in English WoSo, Manchester City Women are planning on streaming their game on Sunday live on Facebook, this could be a really good way to increase viewership of games in England since Manchester City Women have over 4.5 million likes on their Facebook page. I assume most of those who have liked the page have never even seen the team play considering they only get attendances of 1-2k, really curious to see how many end up watching the game.

    • Steglitz49

      With the ladies FA Cup final at Wembley, the Conti Cup as well as the FAWSL and entry to the Champions League, if it were not for the weather and the food, England is the place to play WoSo today.

      City stepped in and did the decent thing when Man Utd persisted in their heresy and would not crawl to the cross. City has been more than decent to their ladies so more power to their elbows.

      • MurderOnZidanesFloor

        What’s wrong with the food? Not enough pickled herring for you? The weather I won’t dispute, especially with the league switching to a winter season next year.

        Manchester City have done a great job with their women’s side on and off the field, attendances are still nowhere near where they need to be though.

        • Steglitz49

          When the mothership is so well off, attendance is neither here nor there. The spectators will come. Give it time.

      • Debbiekhartley

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  • Peter

    Germany’s Simone Laudehr suffered a tear to the outer ligament in her ankle due to a nasty tackle by a Zimbabwe player. The ref didn’t even call the foul, never mind that it was obvious, and should have earned the Zimbabwe player a yellow card. Sad and incomprehensible at the same time.
    I suspect Laudehr is out of the tournament (though there hasn’t been an official declaration to this effect yet).

    • Steglitz49

      Could end her career. Kim Kulig never recovered from he injury in WC-11. Let’s hope for the best but post-match review of fouls, please.

      • Peter

        Here’s a video clip of the foul, but it’s not for the faint of heart:

      • Gary Diver

        “Could end her career.”

        Is there a curse on the German players? How many careers of great German players were ruined by injuries?

        • Steglitz49

          Nadine Kessler is the other obvious one.

          • Gary Diver

            Didn’t you forget Kim Kulig who is today only 26 years old!

          • Steglitz49

            I already mentioned Kim at the beginning of this thread about 2h before this your comment.

  • Steglitz49

    China’s goalie, Zhao Lina, is 6’2″ (1.87 m) while the South-Afrian lass, Roxanne Barker, is 5’11” (1.80 m).


    • Gary Diver

      Barker used her long arms to bat her own errant ball back over the goal line.

      • Steglitz49

        The great Gordon Banks was 6’1″.

        An argument can be made for using slightly smaller goals for the ladies than for the men but over the years those involved in WoSo have been against this.

        • Timber Dave

          That would mean men and women couldn’t share pitches around the world, at least for pitches with fixed goals. We know who would lose out on that.

          • Steglitz49

            Firstly, I noted that WoSo have been against it.

            Secondly, you could lower the crossbar by say 2 inches. That needs no special equipment.

            Thirdly, the posts are fixed into holes in the ground. It would be simple to design an offset post which would allow a slightly smaller goal.

            All things are possible for those who dream big.

      • MurderOnZidanesFloor

        She had been doing a great job collecting every corner to cover her teams lack of size, just didn’t quite work out in the end.

        • Steglitz49

          The Swedish corners particularly inept. Worse, they did not improve as the match went on. They needed to aim for 6 yd line or maybe even slightly further out.

          The tactics were incomprehensible and the team did not adjust quickly enough in the first half. Granted, had Sodia Jakobsson’s shot gone in in the 6th minute, it would have been a different game but it didn’t so it wasn’t.

          • KingCanute

            I was at the Sweden-Japan friendly in Sweden (Kalmar) two weeks ago. Well, Japan has a young team, and new coach, and they lost 3-0, but Sweden looked dull and listless. I told my Swedish friend (who agreed with me) that Sweden, on this form, was not going to be in the medals at the Games. I haven’t so far seen any reason to change my mind.

          • Steglitz49

            The strategy of Kalmar might have worked against South-Africa, that is L8 coming on at the 70-75th minute, likewise Asllani entering in the 2nd half.

            The strategy and tactics were all wrong against South-Africa. Sweden’s most dangerous player is Stina Blackstenius. She should have started and not come on latish in the 2nd half.

            No need for two defensive midfielders. Needed balls behind the defenders, through balls and runs.

          • Terry Lash

            If the opposing side has a good (commanding) keeper, corner takers should sometimes aim for the spot (9 yd) to make it harder for the keeper to come out to claim the ball.

          • Steglitz49

            The penalty spot is at 12 yds. That is why a penalty is called an eleven-meters (ein Elfmeter) in German. It is probably too far out, at least for ladies.

          • Terry Lash

            Oops. Yes, you are correct. Added mentally incorrectly. But I do not think it is too far out even at 12 yds for the occasional ball.

          • Steglitz49

            I think you 9 yds was pretty on the money. Aim sort of halfway between the spot and the 6-yd box.

            It is the new breed of tall goalies that will change WoSo. No longer is it possible to blast away at 25-30 yds. Now you have to cause confusion in the area, maybe even hope the goalie slips or is impeded by one of her own players.

  • Rdalford

    Olympics Women’s Football – Rio 2016 – Attendance (from match reports)

    3rd August 2016
    – 13,439 Sweden vs South Africa
    – 27,618 Brazil vs China
    Sao Paulo
    – 20,521 Canada vs Australia
    – 20,521 Zimbabwe vs Germany
    Belo Horizonte
    – 10,059 USA vs New Zealand
    – 6,849 France vs Colombia

    match reports are found on Olympics 2016 website “Rio2016.com”

    on Rio2016 site click on schedule and results icon,
    select match from schedule,
    then check the downloads for the match report,
    the match reports (usually) include attendance

    For what it is worth
    – us soccer site lists attendance 9556 for USA vs NZ (Rio2016 site has 10059)
    – not clear whether attendance numbers are “tickets sold” or “people thru gates” or some other method
    – not clear if 1 ticket is used for back to back (doubleheader?) matches or if separate tickets are required for each match. in Sao Paulo the same attendance is given black to back (Can v Aus then Zim v Ger) matches but in Rio and Belo Horizonte separate attendance is listed for each match

    • Steglitz49

      The pattern was the same for the boys as for the lasses. The match between Irak and Denmark was played in an almost empty stadium. It started to fill up towards the end because the next match was Brazil v South-Africa. During that match, which was excellent, the stadium was almost full.

      Thus, there is no discrimination between how the crowds treat the lasses and the lads. Maybe the ticket prices are too high?

    • Rdalford

      Olympics Men’s Football – Rio 2016 – Attendance (from match reports)

      4th August 2016
      – 18,000 Iraq v Denmark
      – 69,389 Brazil v RSA
      – 20,000 HON v ALG
      – 37,407 POR v ARG
      – 16,500 MEX v GER
      – 16,000 Fiji v Korea
      – 29,996 SWE v COL
      – 29,996 NGR v Japan

      Match reports are from Olympics site “Rio2016”