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Day 8: Recap
Straight up: 10-2-2
Well then, gentlemen (and occasional lady) Was the bokkie offing well right about which group would be the most intriguing in this tournament or what? It certainly delivered today. Two powerhouses had to fight and scrape for their victories...whilst the independent oddsmaker sadly had to watch as his Lines weren't met.
Luckily for the Dutch, the legendary Daniëlle van de Donk was on the job. What a scintillating hit from outside the area that was! Over on the Swedish end, bookie stands most pleased that more people (including himself) have been introduced to the wonders of teenage phenom Hanna Bennison.
A very different finish from that of Van de Donk's. No less spectacular. Twisting against the momentum of the ball and striking it with the full force of both hips. Probably the bookie's favorite goal of the tournament thus far, if only because it because it was unequivocally female.
I can't finish like hat. I don't have hips like that. Er...to early to say of Bennison that her "hips don't lie"? Okay, okay. I guess that's not cool. It's been eight long years since we left the ubiquitous Shakira references behind on this blog. Best we remain on that course.
S.S.S. Tactical Breakdown
Just like in the Day Four Recap, your friendly bookie is prepared to throw quite a bit of weight behind this evening's analysis. Group C happens to be the most under-appreciated group of the competition. I understand. The more familiar nations play on other days and tourney fatigue has to kick in somehow.
In spite of the fact that the third group's matchday hits that predictable "speed-bump", I'll do my utmost to raise more interested in it. Grades for all four countries this evening. Draw ups for the Dutch and Swedes. We'll begin with a little catch up work involving Holland.
Lineup—Netherlands—Match One (4-3-3) (7/9/22)
No draw up for Mark Parson's Leuwinnen on Day Four as the KNVB trainer rolled out an XI perfectly in line with the bookie's projection from the Preview section. Some rare case! We only need to throw it up here quickly to illustrate how differently the team lined up this time.
Missing Sari van Veenendahl and Annie Nouwen to injury and Vivianne Miedema and Jackie Groenen to COVID, Parsons had to shift personnel around quite a bit. The shape--whilst still a domestic fan base pleasing 4-3-3--was also totally different.
Lineup—Netherlands—Match Two (4-3-3) (7/13/22)
The biggest change comes on that top axis. Lineth Beerensteyn being a totally different player than Miedema means that Parsons had to move Lieke Martens and van De Donk in much closer order to accommodate the more classic target-forward. Bookie opines that this is the primary reason why the former had another subpar game.
Some of the other changes were already at work when the injuries began to strike in the previous fixture. Roord and van de Done were switching often against Sweden. Parsons having presumably observed that Roord operated enough on a solo axis with a broad swath of pitch on which to work led him to keep that in place.
Dominique Janssen had actually switched to the center back role and Nowen's injury last time, so it was simply a matter of keeping her there. Flipping Spitse over to the other slant in order to make room for the exciting youngster Damaris Egurrola was kind of an obvious choice. Of course, Parsons would go with his star recruit.
The undisputed "woman-of-the-match". Egurrola is simply excellent. Forget about her clinical header on that opening goal. The manner in which she drives the lie-up-play from all directions in midfield is insanely good. This Basque girl might as well be the Dutch women's teams equivalent of Pedri.
She flips. She tricks. She rotates around in space and flings inch-perfect diagonals and verticals straight to her forwards. Jackie Groenen, after an excellent match last time around, hasn't really done anything to deserve losing her starting spot.
I'm nevertheless of the opinion that "Damaris" probably constitutes a slight upgrade. Parsons might want to feign COVID complications for Groenen to keep her in the XI. I'd say they could both start behind the forward line but Spitse hasn't done anything to drop out either.
It honestly didn't seem like the absences would trouble the Dutch too much. This girl was the primary reason why it ultimately ended up being a convincing enough victory. Sure, the vibrant and improvisational Portuguese clawed their way back into the match. Your friendly bookie remains of the mind that the much better team won.
There would understandably be some gaps in Parsons newly designs 4-3-3 that Francisco Neto's girls could exploit. Add to that the unfortunate penalty and some pretty bad late defensive lapses and we have a result (without knowing the xG) that was much closer than it seemed.
Time for the grades.
Two of the three subs get marked.
Grades—Netherlands (Match Two)
Daniëlle van de Donk
Stephanie van der Gragt
Daphne van Domselaar
I might catch a little flak for declaring myself a fan of Beerenstyn's work. Understand that there's some inherent bias there as a Bundesliga watcher. I've always been a fan of her work, even after the production numbers dropped off. Others will think differently, particularly after she did her "leaner" thing on the disallowed offside goal. Her overall tenacity was important enough for the team.
Pelota certainly put herself on many a radar with an inspired performance off the bench. The brave header from the already-injured van der Gragt proved quite heroic and was more than enough to offset some of her defensive lapses. Fullback Olislagers might bear a disproportionate amount of the blame for Jessica Silva's antics, but I think Wilms and Janssen produced enough solid play to warrant higher marks.
Martens--whom I was convinced would uptick after the last match--instead appeared to dip significantly. Were it not for that late assist she would have been marked much lower. All in all, this performance more or less proved my intuition that the current crew is getting there in terms of collective form. They won't take this crown, yet should still be considered among the favorites when next Summer's World cup rolls around.
They'll get there.
So much talent coming through the ranks.
The ungraded Esmee Brugts supplied some late flair too.
Warm congratulations to Francisco Neto's crew on their second consecutive comeback from a 0-2 deficit. This Portuguese team currently captures plenty of hearts and minds. Entering the tourney, we certainly knew that they possessed enough talent to make a few waves and potentially turn our thoughts towards a Cinderella run.
Ahem. If the shoe fits, go ahead and give us a rabona. One needs to emphasize that they were playing a team out of its normal shape and without several key players. Your friendly bookie nevertheless doesn't want the razzle and dazzle go unnoticed either. We'll thus grace this Selecao with grades
Grades—Portugal (Match Two)
Insofar as I could tell, there was no major shift to Neto's 4-3-1-2 from the previous match. Definitely some more rotations among the eights Tatiana Pinto and Andreia Norton to mixed effect. The coherency of the counter took a little while to get rolling as a result of what might have been some superfluous tinkering. The penalty came shortly after the team got their transition play sorted out at the half-hour-mark.
Several -Ms have fallen in love with Diana Silva for good reason. What an absolutely sensational performance from the buttressing ten this evening, drawing the penalty and scoring the second goal herself. The other Silvas (Jessica of the above rabona and Dolores) were off-the-chain as well. These gals certainly deserved to have more "A-Level" performers than the Dutch.
Norton and Costa continued to impress, as did Kika Nazareth and Fatima Pinto in their brief relief stints. The temptation to declare this team a "upset special" pick against the mighty Swedes is quite strong in the bookie's mind. We might as well get over to that match now in order to see if we do indeed have a hot tip.
Oh those two damned late disallowed goal!
So close to hitting the spread!
Lineup—Sweden—Match Two (4-2-3-1) (7/13/22)
One could at the very least see that Gerhardsson at least had the decency to get his tactics right this time as soon as the team sheets were released. Thank goodness we've fixed that blasted that blasted 3-4-3 from last time! Inspired by the Swedish trainer, your friendly bookie opted to fix a few things of his own when it came to frequently misspelled player names from this country.
I always thought that Amanda Ilestadt's named rolled off the tongue better with two "ls". I've therefore been calling her "Illestadt" all these years. There's also the matter of the umlaut Fridolina Rolfö's name being on the second "o". Bookie confesses that he liked "Rölfo" better and thus took some creative license with the Norse alphabet.
With that out of the way, I have to say that I wished the Blaugults had taken more liberties with their game in the first-half against the Swiss. It was piss poor. A centralized attack so quintessentially Swedish that it made one want to throw up. To be fair to the girls, it was hot as hell in Sheffield this late afternoon.
Not much doing on that boiling pitch. Gerhardsson's girls almost couldn't help but look plodding and predictable as they tried to inch up those narrow channels. Whilst all those clad in yellow were drenched in sweat the some-time back-eight of Nils Nielsen's Switzerland had the luxury of cooly hanging back to defend.
Asllani and Rolfö still had their moments. Blackstenius was mostly strong, if not a half a step too late on everything. Rolfös breakthrough goal in the 53rd gave my anointed tournament favorites a well deserved lead. Switzerland wouldn't have equalized at all were it not for a howler of a clearance from keeper Hedvig Lindahl.
Again, we'll have to reference those late disallowed goals. The scoreline came within some hair breadth's of being much more lopsided. Somewhat surprising to not see Gerhardsson turn to some of his younger players sooner, but in the end it looked like he made the right call.
All three subs get a grade here.
Grades—Sweden (Match Two)
Johanna Rytting Kaneryd
There's a fairly big point to be made in this set of marks. Namely, that Rolfö, Rytthing Kaneryd, and Bennison probably deserve a place in the starting XI. Can't say I liked what I saw from Hurtig. Seger still has the wisdom to pull those strings, but the 37-year-old appears to be really lacking the legs. Can't blame that one on the heat.
A good recovery from everyone on the back line following the back-three-failure. Eriksson is the notable exception. Way too many misplaced passes from her. She needs to go back into central defense. Hate to say that Hanna Glas should move left after another good performance on the right. It looks to be the only solution to a major problem.
I'm not overtly concerned that they'll drop the Portuguese match provided that we see their head-coach make sensible tactical adjustments next time. They can still top this group and cut a path to my German Mädels in the semis, where I'd still fancy their chances up beating us again.
Monster takes from Calligaris, Maritz, and Bühler in this one. Sadly, a lot of friendly bookie's favorite players turning in subpar performances here. Reuteler tanked pretty hard. Aigbogun didn't really recover as hoped. Coumba Sow utterly failed to fit into the service striker role Nielsen devised for her. Even Bachmann was pretty poor apart from that ball that was gifted to her.
Nice to see Wälti have a much better match as the midfield flight director. Rinast and Mauron made apt contributions in relief. I'm so damed pissed at missing Crnogorcevic for missing a wide open Riesen late on that I'm convinced that she needs to take a seat next time around.
I like them. Of course I like them. They're my neighbors. That's why I fear for them. Hate to see them get taken to the woodshed like some other teams in this tournament. Something about the way this side is currently set up just suggests that it's all about to fall to pieces soon.
“Riffs of the Day”—Day Eight
Reader: More Christina Unkel tidbits, Vicey!
Vicey: No, 130-M!! I've given you enough already. To be honest, I did some more digging and am so disappointed with what I found. Nothing to do with her, mind you. Apparently her husband (also a Schiri) is hated by a bunch of spiteful MLS fans.
Sigh. "Spiteful MLS fans". Something I can't comprehend. If you're going to get that passionate about teams with no history, good for you. I'm happy for you. Bookie finds his passion elsewhere. Clubs that are owned by communities do it for me.
Reader: ....and the Swiss say..."not on our watch!"
Vicey: Semi-zing, 27-M. Clever. I'll accept it. Glad at least someone else is watching this game besides me.
Reader: Your girl Blackstenius isn't living up to the hype. So much for that Golden Boot.
Vicey: Had no way of knowing that Beth Mead would go bananas on the Norwegians, 15-M. She's also been hurt. Recall that it was you who reminded me that I got "Backstenius bitchslapped" when she sunk my Germans in the 2019 FWM quarterfinals.
Give the girl some time. For now, she gives great hugs.
Reader: Why on earth must Diana Silva be so sexy?
Vicey: Been trying to figure that out myself, 5-M.
I don't know, but she can nutmeg me anytime.
Reader: Truly confounding day for attendance.
Vicey: The continuing quest of 19-M and I to cut through all the talk and see which countries come reliably to support their women's teams hits another mysterious pothole.
Pretty big Swedish presence at Bramall Lane in the early kickoff, where a crowd of some 12,000 filled the venue. It was still lousy as all hell in terms of overall capacity. Less than half full.
...and where the hell where the Dutch at Lehigh Sports Village in the night-cap? A fairly noticeable presence on the street, but not inside another venue filled to less than half capacity at approximately 6,000.
Did not hear many horns in the stands today.
Italy vs. Iceland
It doesn't get much more intriguing than this. Oh the bookie can't wait to find out what happens here. Line holds. Eyes to be glued to the screen.
THE LINE: Iceland +1 Goal (holding)
France vs. Belgium
Line holds here as well. Have a feeling I'll be getting to work early on the daily for this one. The French seem to have been forgotten now that everyone wants to talk Germany and England.
Every more reason to beat up on a very bad team.
THE LINE: France +3 Goals (holding)
GENTLEMEN, ENTER YOUR WAGERS