They say that things come in threes and women’s football seems to be no exception. While Japan overcame USA in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ final, the Americans got their own back to take gold at the 2012 Olympics. Now these two teams will do battle in the deciding match of a major competition for a third time in what promises to be an engrossing conclusion to the Women’s World Cup Canada 2015.
At Canada 2015, USA have kept up their streak of gracing at least the semi-finals in all seven stagings of the tournament and progressed to their fourth final. Indeed, the two-time winners have never finished lower than third on the world stage, a record to strike fear into the hearts of any opposition. However, one of their final defeats, in 2011, came as heavy favourites against a Japan side who were in unfamiliar territory and had not been given much hope against high-profile figures such as Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan, Hope Solo and Christie Rampone.
Once again, USA look to have a slight edge on paper. Not only do they sit ahead of Japan in the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking – second compared to fourth – but they have also had an arguably more impressive run so far. The Stars and Stripes topped a tough group featuring Australia, Nigeria and Sweden before successively knocking out Colombia, China PR and fellow double-titlists Germany in convincing fashion. The Nadeshiko, on the other hand, have won every match by a single goal, scraping past four debutants (Switzerland, Cameroon, Ecuador and the Netherlands) prior to edging to victory over Australia and, in dramatic circumstances, England.
Nevertheless, there should be no underestimating the Japanese, who followed up their 2011 conquest by reaching the final at London 2012 and claiming their first AFC Women’s Asian Cup in 2014.