2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Quarterfinals: Japan vs Australia

2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Quarterfinals
Japan vs Australia
Commonwealth Stadium – Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Saturday, June 27, 2015, 4:00 pm Eastern, TV: Fox Sports 1, Telemundo
Spread: Japan +1/2 (+107) / Australia +1/2 (-122)
Money Line: Japan +106 / Australia +322 / Draw
Odds to Advance: Japan -185 / Australia +160
Total: under 2 (-122) / over 2 (+107)
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes Sportsbooks

Japan is favored over Australia in the Women's World Cup quarterfinals.
Japan is favored over Australia in the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals.

In 2011, Japan shocked the world by beating both Germany and the United States en route to winning the Women’s World Cup for the first time ever. Now, four years later, Japan looks to return to the semifinals as they take on Australia in the quarterfinals Saturday in Edmonton. The winner will face either England or Canada in the semifinals next Wednesday.

Japan was placed in Group C as the top seed. Japan is the only team in the tournament that has not suffered a loss or a draw. Every match has been decided by one goal though. In Group play, Japan beat Switzerland 1-0, Cameroon 2-1 and Ecuador 1-0. In the round of 16, Japan beat the Netherlands 2-1 Tuesday in Vancouver. The Japanese led 2-0 but gave up a very soft goal late to make the final appear closer than it was.

Australia was placed in Group D for the World Cup. After an opening match loss to the United States 3-1, Australia beat Nigeria 2-0. The Australians played Sweden to to a 1-1 draw, and clinched second place in the group. Australia upset Brazil 1-0 in the round of 16 Sunday in Moncton. It was the first knockout stage win for Australia in the World Cup.

Japan leads the series 8-5-9, including 7-1-1 in the last nine matches. The two teams played twice in the 2014 Asian Cup, including a 2-2 draw in the group stage and a 1-0 victory for Japan in the championship match.

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Japan is coached by Norio Sasaki. Japan uses a 4-4-2 formation on defense but switches to a 3-4-3 on offense. It keeps opponents off balance and leads to mistakes.

Goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori has been very good in the tournament, except for the almost costly error against the Netherlands. Captain Aya Miyami has a goal and two assists in the tournament. Legendary midfielder Homare Sawa is playing in her sixth and final World Cup. But much like Abby Wambach for the United States, she is mostly a bench player now.Yuki Ogimi is also a dangerous scorer and physical player.

Australia is coached by Alen Stajcic. The Matildas useĀ  a 4-2-3-1 attack formation. Even though they have never advanced this far, Australia will not be intimidated by Japan after going toe to toe with the US, Sweden, and Brazil, allĀ  ranked in the top ten in the World.

Australian keeper Lydia Williams missed the opener against the US with a thigh injury. However, she has only conceded one goal against Sweden in the next three matches. Forward Kyah Simon has scored three of the five goals for Australia in the tournament, and forward Lisa De Vanna has the other two. Left back Steph Catley keys the defense.

These two teams know each other very well, and this should be a close match. Japan has more talent but the gritty and gutsy Australians will not make it easy. I think the Japanese escape with a 2-1 victory.

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