Author Topic: Germany v US at the Women's 4 Nations  (Read 735 times)

Offline David

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Germany v US at the Women's 4 Nations
« on: January 25, 2007, 09:53:27 AM »
The Four Nations women's soccer tournament is a mini-preview of China's upcoming World Cup.

The four-team event opens on Friday in southern China with the world's top two teams facing each other: defending World Cup champion Germany against two-time former champion the United States.

England plays China in the other game on Friday with all four teams facing each other during the five-day tournament at 80 000 seat Guan gzhou Olympic Stadium.

The Germans and Americans have each left a half dozen key players behind, using the tournament to experiment before the 16-team World Cup opens on September 10.

"We're in the same position as the Americans with many top players missing," Germany coach Silvia Neid said. "I don't mind playing the US in the first game or the last game here. The results here are secondary. Playing the Americans first will help get our attention."

The last time the Americans and Germans played, Germany won on penalties in the 2006 Algarve Cup in Portugal. It's the only blemish on the record of American coach Greg Ryan, who took over the US team almost two years ago.

The two European teams - Germany and England - may need a few games to warm up.

"I think England is like us," Neid added. "We have been off for a few months in the winter and this is our first time back. China and the Americans have been together and practicing hard for this."

Germany will be without star forward Birgit Prinz, a three-time Fifa world player of the year. She has 101 goals and 155 caps (games) for Germany and has been left home for university studies - and to rest.

Other missing player, likely to be starters in the World Cup, include: Kerstin Garefrekes, Renate Lingor, Steffi Jones and Sandra Minnert. Garefrekes is also studying, and the other three are nursing various injuries.

The Americans are also without five keys players. Top forwards Kristine Lilly and Abby Wambach are being rested, with defender Christie Rampone and midfielder Aly Wagner also getting a break.

The other key absence is key absence is midfielder Shannon Boxx, who is recovering from knee surgery.

So youth will be served.

The Americans will use the tournament to find a new striker to go with Lilly and Wambach, with candidates like Heather O'Reilly, Natasha Kai, Lindsay Tarpley, Lauren Cheney and Casey Nogueira.

Veteran goalkeeper Briana Scurry and Hope Solo are likely to share time, with coach Greg Ryan also looking for more attacking midfield. Lori Chalupny, a winger turned defender, is likely to be tried this time at central midfield."

"We need to establish a third goal-scoring striker to go alongside Abby and Lilly," Ryan said. "That's critical for us if we want to be successful in September. Teams are going to find a way to shut us down on a given day. You've got to have a third option." For Ryan, Germany is still the favorite.

"They don't lose their confidence," he said. "It's not arrogance, but it's an exceptional level of confidence." Germany and the United States are number one and two respectively in the world ranking.

China's not far behind at Number nine with England at number twelve. China will be without coach Ma Liangyu, who has been reported hospitalized with heart problems. The team will be handled by assistant Wang Han Ming.

China's other key absence will be injured midfielder Bai Li Li.

"China's focus continues to be the World Cup and the 2008 Olympics," Wang said. "We want to see how the big gap is between us and some of the best teams in the world."

England coach Hope Powell is also trying to measure her team, whose profile lags far behind the men's soccer in England.

"While we aren't where we'd like to be, it is improving," said Powell who played 66 times for England and scored 35 goals. "We are definitely making some strides forward."

Ryan picks the English as a sleeper in the Four Nations, particularly if they find some scoring.

"Given a striker, they have a shot to win this." The second round of the tournament is Sunday with China facing Germany and the United States against England. On Tuesday, Germany plays England and the Americans are up against China.