Pearl Harbor Revisited: Physicality & Pace to Determine Women’s World Cup Final

I’m by no means an expert on the women’s international football game – even though I’ve been thoroughly engaged by this tournament as its progressed.   While entertained I still find the product overwhelmingly underwhelming.  Flourishes of brilliance are marred by extended periods of technical deficiency.  And I’m not entirely sure this is a male/female distinction.  It often seems, at least to an uncommitted observer like myself, these matches are unmanaged.  There seems to be a general lack of tactics as it’s the physical abilities of the women themselves that solely determine individual outcomes.

The United States have physicality.

Japan have pace.

And that will determine the World Cup champion.  The United States must posses the ball in the midfield – something they failed miserably to do against the French.  They must keep their back line from having to chase the much faster Japanese side through the flanks.  If Japan is able to keep possession and run in space, the US will almost certainly surrender a goal or two.

The Japanese must avoid allowing the US size to overwhelm them.  If the US are firing balls into the box from corners and set pieces, the average 5 and a half feet tall Japanese women will struggle to keep Abby Wambach’s advantageous noggin off every attempt.  The US will be dying to play this match in front of keeper Ayumi Kaihori.

It’s what makes this final so fascinating.  So rarely in international football tournaments are finals decided by two sides of diametrically opposing styles.  (Perhaps it is more common in the women’s game where athlete size disparity is more pronounced.)  This will not be a match won by a fluke deflection by a dejected keeper at the near post.  It will be won by the nation that imposes its style on their opponent Sunday evening in Frankfurt.

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