In women’s international soccer, it doesn’t get much bigger than what will be on tap Tuesday (7 p.m., FOX) at Montreal's Olympic Stadium: the U.S. vs. Germany in the 2015 World Cup semifinals. Many soccer experts are treating this as the de facto title game as Germany comes in as the No. 1 ranked team by FIFA and the United States is No. 2. The winner, no doubt, will be favored to go all the way as Japan and England sit on the other side of the bracket.
The Americans and Germans have only met three times in previous Women's World Cups with the U.S. holding a 2-1-0 advantage (all coming in knockout rounds). The U.S. (1991, 1999) and Germany (2003, 2007) are also the most decorated countries at World Cups: they are the only teams to have won the ultimate prize more than once.
"We are facing a match between two top teams that will give nothing away," German defender Leonie Maier said. "It'll be a very tough battle."
Though both clubs were expected to reach this point as soon as the groups were unveiled months ago, each squad had to put in some serious work in the quarterfinals on Friday just to get here. Germany was down 1-0 to France with only a few minutes left in regulation when it tied it on a penalty kick score by star forward Celia Sasic. The Germans then prevailed, 5-4, in penalty kicks (following a scoreless extra time, going 5-for-5 in the shootout (the German have, amazingly enough, never missed one at the World Cup). Goalkeeper Nadine Angerer stopped France’s Claire Lavogez’s shot in the fifth round to end it.
The U.S.’ 1-0 win over China wasn’t quite as dramatic. Underrated midfielder Carli Lloyd (who wore the captain’s armband that night) scored on a header in the 51st minute and the Americans recorded their fourth straight shutout (a team-best 423 straight shutout minutes and counting at this World Cup). Defender Kelley O’Hara and forward Amy Rodriguez were surprise starters for the U.S. against China and they brought a noticeable spark in their first action of the tournament. Midfielder Morgan Brian (the youngest player on the U.S. team at 22) also started while Abby Wambach only came on as a substitute in the final few moments. The U.S. managed to survive without suspended midfielders Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday so it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Jill Ellis picks her starting lineup for the Germany match.