Japan (5-0) vs. England (4-1)
|Date & Time||Wednesday July 1, 2015, 7:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: England +263 / Japan +107 -- Over/Under:
FOX Sports 1
England and Japan meet Wednesday in the semifinal of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
England sent defeated the home team in Canada, 2-1, to advance to this stage. England has won its last two matches despite losing the ball possession arrow and being outshot. In fact, England has just 20 shots overall and seven shots on target in its last two matches, but has managed to score four goals. Lucy Bronze and Karen Carney have combined for four goals, while Fara Williams has two assists and five shot attempts. For the most part, England has focused on the defensive side of the ball, allowing 17 shots on target in its last four matches and an average of one goal per game. Karen Bardsley has come away with 15 saves and has allowed three goals in the second half. England has shown it can win multiple ways, but it’s above-average defense and playmakers on offense lead the way for this squad.
Japan sent home Australia with a 1-0 victory and is the only remaining team to have won every match. Japan has controlled the ball at least 57 percent of the time in three of its five matches, which has helped its defense out. Japan has allowed just 13 shots on target and two goals all tournament. Ayumi Kaihori has come away with six saves and has allowed both goals in the second half. Offensively, Japan has 19 shots on target and has scored on seven of those shots. Every Japan goal has come from a different player, as Aya Miyama has a goal and two assists, while Saori Ariyoshi and Yuika Sugasawa are two other players who have found the back of the net. Japan is a defensive team that makes you work to get anything, but it’s also a squad that takes advantage of limited chances offensively. Japan may be the team to beat right now.
This could turn into a defensive slugfest given what’s on the line and the way both teams have played throughout the tournament. Both clubs are fine with limiting offensive chances if it means its opponent isn’t getting quality looks on the other side. The under may be in play here.
Japan has played the most consistent soccer of any team in the World Cup and has provided no reason to fade at this point. I'm not 100 percent sold on England, especially given Japan is far more disciplined. Give me Japan in an outright victory.