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Quarterfinal preview: Germany, China in rare matchup

Anja Mittag had a quiet group stage.  (Getty Images)

Anja Mittag had a quiet group stage. (Getty Images)

Four years after missing out on the Olympics due to the bizarre qualifying system, Germany is back in the final eight and ready to do battle with China who continue their climb back up the world ladder. Despite the considerable accomplishments of both this will be only the second meeting between Germany and China at a major tournament. Germany edged China in the 1995 World Cup semifinal on a late goal by Bettina Weigmann.

THE MATCHUP

Germany vs China, 3pm EDT (Soccer Specialty Channel)

BEST PRIOR OLYMPIC FINISH

Germany – bronze (2000, 2004, 2008)

China – silver (1996)

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Germany – Alexandra Popp scored in Germany’s first match against Zimbabwe but has been quiet since Anja Mittag has yet to get on the scoreboard. The Germans have not exactly set the world afire so far in Sylvia Neid’s farewell tournament in the coach’s seat and could use livelier performances from Popp and Mittag.

China – The current iteration of China is centered on defensive organization and patience which makes captain Li Dongna an important factor in this one against the physically imposing Germans. Without much firepower up top it will be vital for China to stick to the game plan to keep Germany frustrated.

UNDER THE RADAR

Germany – Veteran Saskia Bartusiak serves as the captain and central defense rock but also proved she can do more when needed, bagging the late equalizer in Germany’s dramatic rally to earn a 2-2 draw with Australia. The Germans once played an entire World Cup without conceding a goal but the defense in this tournament did not have a clean sheet during group play.

China – Ma Xiaouxu has appeared only once this tournament, off the bench, but her experience could be a factor if China are going to pull the upset. As the most capped player in the team and by far the leading scorer on the international stage, Ma will be a solid option if Bruno Bini finds his team needing a late goal.

OVERVIEW

Along with Germany surrendering goals in all three matches, China only scored in one while being blanked in the other two. So expect this one to boil down to whether or not China can penetrate the German defense without the presence of any game-changing attackers. Germany has not looked like world beaters offensively either but this will be considered a soft quarterfinal draw and could serve as a good jumping off point if they are to peak for the medal round. But if the Chinese get too comfortable defensively they could sneak out of Salvador with their first global semifinal since the 1999 World Cup.

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