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Solo vs Angerer and USA vs Germany

Hope Solo vs Nadine Angerer & Top 5 USWNT vs Germany duels - 2015 FIFA WWC semifinal

June 30, 2015 By Michelle Bonsu
As the two top sides in women's football meet, how does Hope Solo and the USWNT compare against Nadine Angerer and Germany?

After weeks of thrills, spills, surprises, and heartbreak, the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup has finally arrived at a very exciting juncture. Out of the 24 teams - eight of them debutants - in this summer's tournament, only four remain, with the USA, Germany, England, and Japan all fighting it out for the chance to be crowned champion on July 5th.

Given the fact that just a quartet of teams are standing, it was inevitable that the top two sides in the world would meet at some point. Unfortunately for some fans and neutrals, USA vs. Germany will not be that dream final many had hoped for, as the two share four out of the six World Cup titles won since 1991. In fact, only Norway, in 1995, and then Japan, in 2011 have ever stepped on that winners' podium, as the Stars and Stripes won the inaugural edition in 1991 and then in 1999. Meanwhile, die Nationalelf are the first team to win it back to back after doing so in 2003 and 2007, and were denied a chance to make it three in three by Japan's impressive performance four years ago in Germany.

So, as the no. 1 and no. 2 sides prepare to battle for a chance at making history, there are bound to be some interesting match-ups between some of the players on the pitch. And it all starts from the back, with goalkeepers Nadine Angerer and Hope Solo.

1. Hope Solo vs. Nadine Angerer

There were certainly good female goalkeepers before the emergence of Nadine Angerer and Hope Solo - just think of the USA's Brianna Scurry, whose long-standing record of over 130 wins was finally broken by Solo during the USWNT's 1-0 win over China. However, the rise of the duo, aged 36 and 33 respectively, has taken women's goalkeeping to a whole new level and both deservedly deserve their titles as the top two shot-stoppers in the women's game.

Yet, whilst Angerer has already experienced the sweet taste of winning a World Cup - she was the one between the posts when Germany won in 2007 sans conceding a single goal - Solo has had to endure the bittersweet flavour of coming so close, yet not being good enough. Despite her top performances at the last World Cup in Germany, she was unable to prevent Japan from finding a way to push the match to penalties and eventually prevail to become the first Asian team to lift the coveted trophy.

Angerer, who is the first ever goalkeeper to win the FIFA World Player of the Year award has announced she will retire after this tournament, will certainly want to add a third World Cup title to her glittering CV. Meanwhile, Solo, who has two Olympic gold medals to her name, will be seeking to help the USWNT to their first ever title since July 1999.

2. Celia Sasic vs. Hope Solo

Another interesting personal battle will be between Germany's Celia Sasic and star American keeper Solo. Sasic has netted six goals so far in this tournament, making her a top contender for the Golden Boot. On the opposite side of the pitch will be Solo, whose 11 saves are the most out of any other goalkeeper still remaining in the tournament. She has also gone a whopping 423 minutes sans conceding a goal, which is a record for a goalkeeper at any Women's World Cups. She will be under immense pressure by a German side that currently has scored the most goals in this tournament with a total of 20.

3. Julie Johnston and Becky Sauerbrunn vs. Anja Mittag (or Dzsenifer Marozsan)

Alongside defensive partner Becky Sauerbrunn, Julie Johnston has been a titan in defense and has provided an excellent shield for Solo. However, Johnston, who is naturally a midfielder by trade and her centre-back colleague will be responsible for keeping Dzsenifer Marozsan, arguably one of Germany's best players quiet. Should she not recover in time from an ankle injury sustained against France, Anja Mittag, who has netted five times so far and like the Hungarian-born Marozsan provides a creative threat whilst linking up well with top-scorer Sasic.

4. Tabea Kemme vs. Alex Morgan

Despite Germany's dominance, they still do have some weak links, and 23-year-old Kemme is viewed as the "weaker" part of Germany's back-line. She was hassled and harassed by France down on the left-hand side by the likes of Élodie Thomis and could face a similar torrid time against the pace and trickery of Alex Morgan who will try to effectively create space and help Megan Rapinoe, who now returns from suspension, and Carli Lloyd, who scored the winning goal against China.

5. Silvia Neid vs. Jill Ellis

Both coaches like to play with a 4-4-2 formation, with one forward oftentimes dropping deep to act as a creative midfielder to provide support to the other striker. However, Ellis did mix things up against Colombia, switching to a 4-2-3-1 in the middle of their round of 16 match against the Colombians in order to accompany Lauren Holiday, Morgan Brian, and Lloyd. Neid has vastly more experience at this stage, having been on the bench when Germany won their second world title, making history in the process. However, she will have been troubled with her team's performance against France, in which were it not for some poor finishing on the part of Les Bleues we might be looking at an entirely different semi-final entirely. 

Unfortunately, only one of these highly regarded teams will have a chance to face England or Japan in just a few days' time. Will the USA have their shot at redeeming themselves and perhaps getting revenge on the Japanese for ending their World Cup dreams last time around? Or will Germany, who were also eliminated by Japan on their home turf be able to match the men's triumph in Brazil by first seeing off a familiar opponent?

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