Four teams remain in contention for a gold medal in women’s soccer. That means they all have two chances to win a match for a medal. Someone will win twice and take the gold while someone will lose twice and be frozen out of the podium.
The semifinal action begins with Canada and Germany.
Canada vs. Germany, 3 p.m. EDT (NBC Sports Network)
BEST PRIOR OLYMPIC FINISH
Germany – bronze (2000, 2004, 2008)
Canada – bronze (2012)
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Germany – Dzsenifer Marozsan is just one of a bunch of German attackers who has yet to get on track in Brazil. Alexandra Popp and Anja Mittag fit in the same category. It just has not been a fluid offensive tournament for the Germans. How far can they go without their big guns snagging some goals?
Canada – Kadeisha Buchanan figures to be in her usual center back spot after being suspended for yellow cards when the teams met in the group stage. One of the best young defenders in the world has the talent to help shut down Germany but also the impatience to give them dangerous free kicks, and it won’t take many of those for the Germans to make Canada pay.
[MORE: Can Sweden do it again and upset Brazil in other semifinal?]
UNDER THE RADAR
Germany – Sara Daebritz scored the first goal against Australia to spark a comeback from 2-0 down to earn the draw and she could be pivotal in helping the forwards find the ball in dangerous spots.
Canada – Stephanie Labbe has occasional trouble with balls lofted into her area, and the German height could pose even more of a problem. Sailing has been mostly smooth thus far for Labbe but she’ll need to be on her game again for Canada to keep moving forward.
Beating a quality team twice in a week is no easy task, but it is what awaits Canada, who beat Germany last Tuesday to win Group F. The repeat will be more difficult without Josee Belanger who is out for yellow card accumulation and Allysha Chapman back at training but still very much in doubt. On the flip side, neither team fielded its choice XI in that one so this won’t be a typical rematch.
Germany is not the team best cut out for taking advantage of their opponents having to use outside back depth, but it will hinder Canada going forward. That means the midfield could get clogged up, which could turn this into a grinding sort of day as the teams monopolizing the bronze medal since 2000 will be looking to advance to play for gold for the first time.
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