PRE – So here it is, the veritable clash of the titans between the top two ranked nations in the world, for what those are worth. The U.S. have gambled and gone with a 4-3-3, keeping Morgan Brian in the midfield with the returning Lauren Holiday as part of the double pivot behind Carli Lloyd, who should have license to roam forward. Ellis could get skewered though if the tactical change doesn’t work out, especially with the likes of O’Hara and Rodriguez being hauled back to the bench after both impressed against China. Germany get Bartusiak back from suspension but could be on some weary legs after the penalty shootout win. They struggled with some of France’s dynamism in the quarterfinal. Will that be the case again against the U.S.’ explosive attacking personalities?
3′ – First real chance for Germany, as they win a corner after dominating possession for opening minutes. It swings out towards the penalty spot, and Leupolz is wide open for a weak header that goes over.
4′ – Klingenberg clangs a first touch that lets Laudehr intercept and break the other way. The winger passes to Sasic near the top of the box, but her probing ball inside is blocked by Johnston, with the U.S. clearing the danger.
7′ – Real chance for the U.S. off a Rapinoe corner. She delivers near post, and nobody with Germany picks up Johnston’s sharp cut towards the ball, resulting in a free header. It’s a bullet but right at Angerer, and Germany eventually half-clear. Soon after, Brian crosses far post from the far sideline, with Angerer pawing at it and the ball flying wide.
8′ – Kemme darts up the far sideline before driving a hard cross towards the near post. Solo’s not taking any chances and punches it onto the roof of the goal. The corner comes to nothing.
9′ – Long ball to Lloyd, and she holds up before passing square to an open Rapinoe. Rapinoe shakes her way free of the defense before shooting near post at Angerer, but it’s tame and held.
14′ – The U.S. waste a golden chance to go ahead. Heath, just beyond center circle threads a perfect through ball for Morgan, playing on the shoulder of the center-back and whizzing past her. 1v1 with Angerer, she hits it right at the keeper’s legs with the netminder standing on the six. It’s a potentially costly miss.
26′ – It’s been a litany of half-chances and probing since that last golden opportunity. Klingenberg tries to make something happen with a cross towards the six, but Angerer races off her line to catch.
28′ – Holiday kind of, sort of, clips Maier, giving Germany a chance to swing in a dangerous free kick. Goessling floats it in, but the U.S. clears. Popp and Brian collide heads in the box on the way up for it, and Popp is busted wide open, with both going down in pain. Out come the trainers. Both are able to continue after a long delay.
34′ – YELLOW CARD – Germany (Maier) – Rapinoe dispossesses Maier at midfield, and the German responds by dragging her book for an easy booking.
35′ – Another close shave for the German defense. Off a throw by Krieger on the far sideline, Brian backheels to Heath, who dribbles into the box. Germany clear but only to Klingenberg, who shoots and sees it deflected off a German head and mercifully wide for the Europeans with Angerer wrong-footed.
36′ – The Americans have Germany under unyielding pressure. Off a corner, Johnston steps up, dribbles through some pressure, and slots in Morgan, with Germany putting behind again for a corner. Morgan flies in for the corner, but Angerer claws away. The U.S. keep digging, with Heath seeing an effort deflected behind for another corner.
38′ – YELLOW CARD – United States (Sauerbrunn) – The U.S. see the corner cleared, and it ends up on the far flank. For some reason though, someone (?) chooses to play a terrible backpass towards Sauerbrunn, with Mittag pouncing. Sauerbrunn has to scythe her down and take an avoidable booking.
40′ – Kemme shoots wide from distance. It’s the brightest moment offensively for a long time from the Germans. It’s followed a minute later by another optimistic long effort from Mittag that sails over.
43′ – Klingenberg pops it forward for Morgan, who shakes Krahn out of her boots and cuts inside towards the six. She just needs to thread the needle to Heath charging at the six or back to Lloyd at the edge of the area but tries an odd cross that evades everything.
45′ + 2′ – Popp absolutely crushes Rapinoe with a late sweep of the legs. How it’s not a booking is beyond me. John Kreese would be proud.
45′ + 3′ – Germany are playing with fire. Maier, on a yellow, jumps and plants an elbow in the back of Rapinoe’s head. Just a foul.
HT – Unfathomable as it may have seemed before this one, the U.S. are outplaying Germany and unlucky to not be ahead. They’ve created the bulk of the better scoring opportunities and have bossed possession for the most part and looked stout defensively. Germany look short of ideas going forward and have gotten away with some ridiculous fouls. They’ve still got plenty of quality, but they’re also in a hell of a fight at the moment. Big team talks ahead.