Women's World Cup: Group A:
China- New Zealand
Canada have created plenty of chances, but only have a single goal to show for it and are still not certain of even a top 2 finish. Christine Sinclair is the focus of so much of what they do offensively and this resulted in a very one dimensional offence. They switch from Edmonton to Montreal today, but are going to get huge support once again, maybe even bigger than for opening day and certainly in the 45,000 -55,000 range. The playing surface there is a little different too, Xtreme as opposed to FieldTurf, so conditions and surroundings will be a little alien to both teams.The hosts would secure first place in the group with a win and they are desperate for that as it would mean playing their Round of 16 and then last eight game in Vancouver, this is the home of the national team in more ways than one and as TSN described: "Vancouver is not just some ordinary training camp base, it is way more valuable than that. "Vancouver is the ancestral and spiritual home of the WNT and contains all those familiar patterns and surroundings - a soccer sanctuary like nothing else in the history of competitive soccer in Canada. "Vancouver dispenses refuge and reward in equal measures."
Of course, wanting and doing are very different things and the Netherlands come into the match knowing that they probably need a point to clinch a place in the knockout round , they are ranked just four places below Canada in world rankings and have proved very difficult to score against in their two opening games. Canada have to qualify, but want to finish top, Netherlands would be incredibly pleased with a point, both could achieve those aims if China do not win the other match being played simultaneously in Winnipeg and I feel that match could have a huge bearing on how the game in Montreal plays out.
I am quite taken with the Chinese and ahead of their win over the Dutch my preview went a lot like this.....
"The Canada- China game played out pretty much as I thought it might, ahead of which I wrote .............I am very interested in the Women's World Cup as a tournament, but am not going to get involved betting wise until Monday, today's matches should be very informative and I am keen to see China in action, they arrive with an extremely young squad, all aged between 19 and 26, Canada, whom they meet today, for example, have nine players aged 31+. The Chinese are building long term, looked very comfortable on the ball in the little I have seen of them and despite their youth, have played together as a group for some time. There is a lot of pressure on the Canadians as hosts and there will be a big crowd at the game, but this is also a concern for me with the Chinese, who started a recent friendly match against England very nervously, before settling into the game and impressing, all in all, I prefer to sit this one out.
I think the Chinese were again nervous at the beginning, but grew into the game, were denied by the woodwork, but were very disciplined and clearly came for a point, which they were within a minute or two of achieving. The youngsters are on a very steep learning curve and will come on a lot for that and will not face the same level of massed support against them this evening. Coach Hao Wei said we will see a far more attacking approach from his players this evening and that might be the case, but I do not think that a point would be a disaster for either and it is hard to see with four third placed teams making it through and China's "easiest" game to come, that four points and no heavy defeat that four points would not be enough. The coach felt he had spotted some "flaws" in the Dutch defence and was confident his team would be able to exploit them. There was certainly encouragement for the Chinese from the Netherlands opener, with New Zealand coming on very strong through the second period, creating the better chances and being denied what they felt was a strong penalty appeal. I think the conditions and playing surfaces here will take a big toll and opening day temperatures of circa 23 degrees, where said to be way, WAY higher "on field" with the the artificial turf holding and reflecting the heat and really having an effect on players and this is something I am sure we will be returning to later this week, with some teams sure to hold up better, or certainly be more used to playing conditions that the surface will generate. If there is any advantage in that regard today it will surely be with the Chinese, which is a bonus."
They edged that 1-0, with this time a late goal in their favour. A win today could see them take first place in the group, a point should be enough for second place, however, New Zealand can only progress with all three points and sooner or later they will have to throw caution to the wind and take the game to the Chinese and then they will be vulnerable. They are a very physical side and dangerous from set pieces and have an edge in this department against the Chinese, but they will leave themselves vulnerable once they push forward and at the end of the day, the Ferns have never won in 11 World Cup appareances and only once in seven starts at the Olympics and they do not get too many chances to test themselves at this level in competitive games. The two teams met in China early last year, with the hosts winning 1-0 , it was a close encounter, but I would argue that the Chinese are much improved since then and they would have learned a lot from that game, with ten of the New Zealand side who played that day featuring against Canada last week.
I expect both games to be cautious early, that has been the MO of this group, with only one goal coming inside 90 minutes in the four games so far.
I favour China to win narrowly once the Ferns are forced forward and out of their comfort zone.......China -0.5 ball 2.10 general quote....2.14 asian line/Sportmarket.
Canada, under coach John Herdman are 17-3-2 against non top 7 teams ( nations ranked below them) and I think a change of enviroment for them might re-invigorate the team, they desperately want to win the group and unless NZ race into an early and decisive looking lead in the other game, which seems unlikely, the easiest and least fraught way to do so, would be by winning this. They have given little away defensively and I feel they can edge this, I will suggest Canada -0.75 ball 1.95 asian line/Sportmarket, but if you are watching this match "in running", a better option might be to wait for the -0.5 ball line to reach the same 1.95 quote.