The USA women’s national soccer team get their SheBelieves Cup campaign under way against Germany on Wednesday (7pm ET, Fox Sports 1).
USWNT were victorious in this competition 12 months ago, beating Germany 2-1 in the final thanks to goals from Alex Morgan (pictured) and Samantha Mewis in the first 45 minutes. A few months later, though, Jill Ellis’ charges succumbed to a surprise defeat by Sweden in the quarter-finals of the Olympic Games, a result that sparked a rebuilding job ahead of the World Cup in two years’ time. The focus for the United States, then, is not necessarily on winning this tournament, but instead continuing to grow the team with France 2019 in mind.
Goalkeeper Jane Campbell, defender Casey Short, midfielders Rose Lavelle and Brianna Pinto and forwards Lynn Williams and Jessica McDonald are all set to make their debut in the SheBelieves Cup. More experienced names such as Morgan, Mewis, Carli Lloyd, Tobin Heath, Becky Sauerbrunn, Ali Krieger and Kelley O’Hara have also been included in Ellis’ squad of 23 players.
Most of the home nation’s footballers ply their trade in the domestic leagues, although Crystal Dunn (Chelsea), Lloyd (Manchester City) and Morgan (Lyon) are employed by clubs overseas. The United States have at times struggled to break down defences that play deep, but Germany prefer to field their backline high up the pitch and that could play into the hands of Ellis and her players.
Germany are unbeaten in their last eight matches, with their most recent defeat coming against Canada in August. It was the Europeans’ only loss since their previous meeting with the United States in last year’s edition of this tournament. Die Nationalelf are one of the most successful sides in the history of the women’s game, having triumphed at two soccer World Cups in 2003 and 2007 and seven European Championships in 1989, 1991, 1995, 1997, 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2013, before winning their first gold medal at the Olympic Games held in Rio de Janeiro last summer.
The majority of Jones’ 23-woman squad play their domestic football at home, with the only exceptions being Arsenal goalkeeper Josephine Henning and Lyon duo Pauline Bremer and Dzsenifer Marozsan. There is a mix of youth and experience within the Germans’ travelling party: Wolfsburg forward Anja Mittag has 149 caps to her name at the age of 31 and defender Babett Peter is another member of the centurion club, while Bremer, Lena Petermann Felicitas Rauch, Lina Magull, Sara Dabritz, Linda Dallmann and Kristin Demann are all, at most, 23 years of age.
Germany tend to dominate possession in most of the matches they play, although that is at least in part down to the fact that the majority of their opponents are weaker than the United States. So that may not be necessarily the case at the Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania on Wednesday night.
As far as this preview’s betting predictions and picks, this is a difficult matchup to call. Both teams are more than capable of beating any other team in the world when they are operating at their optimum level of performance. Team USA will fancy their chances given the fact that the game is taking place on home soil, but from a betting perspective there is probably better value in backing the Germans to come out on top. Jones has plenty of quality players at her disposal and will not be fazed by this American team, who are also filled with top-class footballers. This is a game that could certainly go either way, but for our pick we would side with Germany to win, though at the time of writing the best United States online bookmakers have yet to publish odds on this game.