Discover more from Flying Geese
Day 2: You get a penalty, you get a penalty
Doesn't mean you are any good at taking them
Nigeria 0 - Canada 0
Advantage Australia, and maybe even Ireland, in Group B as Canada were held to a goalless draw by Nigeria. Christine Sinclair missed the opportunity to become the first footballer to score at six World Cup editions when her penalty was well saved by Chiamaka Nnadozie.
Ultimately Canada’s problem in this match is the same problem they have had for the past couple of years. They have no real striker threat, they don’t vary their attacking play enough to make up for that, and perhaps more worryingly this time round, they also have clear defensive concerns.
Jordyn Huitema started up front here but she looked lacklustre in comparison to the more aggressive Evelyn Viens and Cloe LaCasse who came on later in the game.
At points Huitema would drop back with Leon tucking in, helping Canada to create overloads in central areas but also congesting the space. That did free up room for Ashley Lawrence on the left hand side but Canada were rarely able to move the ball out to her quick enough to make the most of it.
In that midfield area, Nigeria were able to limit the space Canada found available to them by using a 4-4-2 defensive shape which allowed the midfielders to swarm whoever was on the ball. Despite some promising moments from Julia Grosso, there was a sense that Canada were really missing the aggressiveness of Jessie Fleming with her counter-pressing tenacity (and of course, her penalty record).
In the past these attacking problems have been somewhat minimised by Canada’s exemplary defensive record. They create few chances because they give up few. But that was not the case against Nigeria with the corridor between Jayde Riviere and Kadeisha Buchanan on the right hand side of Canada’s defence being particularly fertile ground for the fast paced runs of Ifeoma Onumonu and Asisat Oshoala. Kailen Sheridan looked disastrous when it came to claiming balls.
This game was somewhat marred by the number of appalling challenges made without action being taken by the referee, culminating in VAR sending Deborah Abiodun off for an awful tackle on Ashley Lawrence. The referee had allowed the match to get out of control in the first half, and that lack of care could have caused serious injury in the second.
Flying Geese is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
The Philippines 0 - Switzerland 2
The Philippines made a fiery start to their country’s first ever senior appearance at a World Cup and until their opening goal was disallowed, it looked like they could follow up New Zealand and spring a surprise.
Instead Ramona Bachmann scored what was a soft penalty and from then on the Swiss looked comfortable with their lead. It took Seraina Piubel to turn in Switzerland’s second after Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic could only shoot straight at the Filipino goalkeeper Olivia Davies-McDaniel.
Following Norway’s loss to New Zealand, Switzerland will strongly feel like they should finish top of this group. They were not always convincing against the Philippines - Lia Walti had an unusually quiet game - but Ramona Bachmann continued to show that she plays at her best in a Swiss shirt.
Géraldine Reuteler also offered something a bit different for the Swiss from midfield. Too often it feels like they are unable to unlock the talent of their attackers but Reuteler brought an added dynamism to their play going forward. Obviously though for the Swiss, there are far sterner challenges to come.
N.B. Spain - Costa Rica analysis will feature in tomorrow’s round-up due to authorial issues with jet lag