The Gold and Bronze medal matches have been confirmed, and there are some surprising results–the United States failure to reach the final among them.
Ranked first in the world according to FIFA, the United States struggled early in the tournament but thought their troubles were behind them after beating the Netherlands in the quarterfinals. Up against Canada in the semifinals, the US expected victory, but an injury to goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher threw a wrench in the plans. In the end, Canada won 1-0. The US will now face Australia in the bronze medal game–the teams tied in their last outing.
The Netherlands will be upset with the loss to the United States. They were one of the top offensive teams during the group stages, but only found the net twice in 21 shots and missed what would’ve been a game-winning penalty. In penalty kicks, the Netherlands were denied twice and lost.
Sweden‘s path to the final has been hard: first, the Swedes beat the likes of USA, Australia, and New Zealand to advance to the Quarterfinals. Then, Sweden beat hosts Japan to advance to the semis. Victory against Australia took Sweden to the final, where they lost in 2016. Can Sweden win this time?
Hosts Japan always had a tricky matchup against Sweden, but without much in the way of home field advantage, an upset was unlikely. Two second half goals from Sweden made the game 3-1 and ended the medal hopes for Japan.
Australia surprised Great Britain with a 4-3 extra time win to advance, but the semifinals against Sweden proved to be too much. Australia kept it close, but lost 1-0. In the bronze medal game, the Matildas will play a United States team that they outshot and out possessed just a few days ago.
Just like I said in my group stage review, Great Britain needed to find other scoring options outside of Ellen White. White scored a hat trick, but it wasn’t enough as the Brits lost 4-3 to Australia.
In my opinion, Canada are the surprise of the tournament. After finishing second in Group A , the Canadians faced a tough Brazil team but triumphed on penalties. Then, Canada faced their neighbors to the south and triumphed 1-0 to advance to the final. After winning two consecutive bronze medals, the women’s team looks to finally win gold.
Despite becoming the first player to score at five consecutive Olympics tournaments, it appears likely that Marta will never win gold. Brazil exited on penalties to Canada after a 0-0 draw, and with Marta now age 35, it’s not a certainty that she’ll play at the next Olympics.
The Olympic final will see Sweden face Canada in the final: both teams will be gunning for a first ever gold medal at the tournament. Will Sweden continue their streak and win every single game? Or will Canada keep the surprises up and win the tournament? We’ll see in due time.
Who are you rooting for? Let me know in the comments!
Image Courtesy of IQRemix from Canada, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
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