Okay, it’s getting closer to crown the winner. First the group play, then the Round of 16 and then the quarterfinals. Now we have four survivors. Three of which have already won the Women’s World Cup at least once. The other having their best WWC ever. It’s time to hold the semifinals to decide the two finalists and the two for the third-place match. Here are my thoughts on who should take the semis:
SEMIFINAL #1 – GERMANY vs. USA
I really doubt FIFA.com has all the stats together on this. For the record, FIFA.com states Germany and the U.S. have met only three times before with the US winning twice. The US has scored a total of 8 goals in those matches with Germany scoring 7. Another website has stats from 11 years back and shows Germany has actually lost to the US three times in the seven times they’ve played each other in that time. The US’ only loss was on penalties. The US’s last actual loss to Germany was 3-0 at the 2003 World Cup semifinals.
The quarterfinal of Germany vs. France was something. Two teams raked both first and third in the world respectably playing a quarterfinal where it took penalty kicks to decide it. Now comes the semifinal and it’s also going to be something. The teams ranked both first and second in the world playing for a trip to the final. Adding to the drama is that both teams are the only ones to win two Women’s World Cups. So how do they stack?
In terms of play, Germany has been the stellar one in terms of scoring but it took France in the quarterfinals to send the message about Germany’s vulnerability. They may be #1 but they’re not invincible. The United States have been consistent en route to keeping their solid record of making the Top 4 of every WWC intact. They haven’t been scoring as big as Germany but they’re not making any losses happen and have only conceded a single goal. However playing to a 1-0 win against China in their quarterfinal may question their ability to challenge Germany in the semis.
This is a toughie. It’s even possible this game could end up being a 0-0 draw after extra time in which Germany would win on penalty kicks. I believe it could be as tight as Germany’s match against France on Friday. However I predict Germany will win 1-0 in extra time. Sure the Americans have the better history against them but Germany is the team that’s been playing with power.
SEMIFINAL #1 – JAPAN vs. ENGLAND
Once again FIFA.com doesn’t provide too many reliable stats. They just mention Japan and England playing head-to-head twice with a 2-2 draw (2007 World Cup) and a 2-0 win for England (2011 World Cup). Actually another website helped me track down a game the two played in 2013 where they drew 1-1.
The Nadeshiko, as the Japanese women are commonly called, are defending champions and they are playing like the champions they’re reputed to be. They’ve had nothing but straight wins. Even if they are conservative in size, they’re showing themselves to be a team strong, ready and full of talent from Homare Sawa, their most capped player on the team, to 22 year-old Mana Iwabuchi who scored the winning goal against Australia. However the play here in Canada has showed that teams are capable of rivaling them. Australia gave an excellent challenge as did ‘lesser’ teams like Cameroon and the Netherlands. I know they haven’t really shown any vulnerability here in Canada but they will have to deliver more against England if they want to make it to the finals.
As a Canadian, I’m not too happy about England beating us in the quarterfinals. However this is a breakthrough for the Three Lionesses as this is England’s first-ever trip to the WWC semifinals. Having their own Premier League sure helps. I’ve often said that the women can teach the men a thing or two about winning. Sure, they’ve never lost to Japan but Japan has a record of strong play and a field with more talent and experience. England is still growing at their own pace. It’s a lot of growth but I don’t think it’s enough to make the World Cup winners. In fact their loss to France in group play is an example of how vulnerable England can get.
I feel Japan will take it 2-1 in extra time.
And there you go. My predictions for the semifinals. Stay tuned to see who two teams will be playing for the Cup on Sunday.
I think Group C will be the hardest group to make predictions for. Why? Because none of the teams have ever played each other in the past. I think the fact that Japan is the only country here who’s played in a past World Cup may have a lot to do with it. For these predictions, I had to rely on stats involving past achievements and recent play results. So without further ado, here are my Group C predictions along with my latest stadium focus and a bonus feature:
-Japan (4): What can I say? Japan have been at every Women’s World Cup since it began in 1991. Japan are also defending Cup champions. The win of the Cup was definitely an upper for Japan since the only other World Cup they were able to make it past the Group Stage was back in 1995. They’ve also won the Olympic silver medal in 2012 and their first ever AFC Asian Cup in 2014. Much of it has to do with the football boom in Japan over the past 25 years. Before that, Japan didn’t have much interest. Over time the sport has boomed thanks to the big success of the J-League for men and the L-League for women.
Their chances of winning again here are quite good. I cannot see any other team in Group C that could rob them of a 1st place finish. It’s questionable once they move into the knockout rounds. They have had a lot of good wins in this past year but they’ve also endured losses to France, Denmark and North Korea. Canada’s the stage for another chapter for the team.
-Switzerland (19): This is not only Swizerland’s first ever World Cup. This is their first ever major international tournament. They’ve never qualified for an Olympic Games or even a Women’s Euro in the past. No doubt they’re looking to this World Cup to make a name for themselves. Already they’ve shown signs of coming of age. Last May they had their biggest win ever: against Malta 11-0. Although I don’t think they’ll win, I feel they’ll fare well. Switzerland has some players who play for women’s teams of the Bundesliga and that will be an advantage here.
-Cameroon (53): This may be Cameroon’s first ever World Cup but they’ve already been developing a reputation for themselves. They competed at the 2012 London Olympics and they’ve been runners-up three times at the CAF Women’s Championship including last year. However women’s soccer in all of Africa is still growing and learning. Nevertheless I feel Cameroon will fare well due to their past experience and the fact some of their players are playing in European leagues, especially France. Cameroon have a lot to learn and a lot of talent to deliver.
-Ecuador (48): Ecuador was lucky to host the 2014 Copa America Feminina. It sure helped them as they finished third thanks to a 3-2 win over Argentina in the final Copa America game and winning the playoff against Trinidad and Tobago thanks to a last-minute goal. Ecuador, like most of South America, have just started to accept women’s football in recent years. Like Cameroon and Switzerland, this World Cup will be a learning experience for Ecuador no matter how they finish.
MY PREDICTION: Without a doubt, Japan will win the group. The rest of the spots will be harder to predict. I will predict Switzerland for second and Cameroon for third. I chose Cameroon because they have more international experience including an Olympic appearance.
Year Opened: 1976
World Cup Capacity: 61,004
World Cup Groups Hosting: E,A,F
Additional World Cup Matches Contested: Round of 16, Quarterfinal, Semi-final
Us Canadians are very familiar with Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. The whole stadium–roof, tower and all– was to be completed by the 1976 summer Olympics. However construction problems and budget problems caused its delay leaving the Olympics with a stadium but no tower or roof. The Olympic left Montreal with such a debt the roof and tower didn’t get completed until 1987.
Since then, things have had easier moments in the early decades. After the Olympics, the Stadium became the main home of the CFL football team Montreal Allouettes and the MLB baseball team Montreal Expos. However ever since the Expos moved to Washington, D.C. in 2004 and since the Allouettes moved to a new stadium and use this one part-time, they’ve lacked a full-time tenant. The venue still does host the CFL’s Grey Cup and host bigger games for the Montreal Impact of the MLS. The venue hosted the visit of Pope John Paul II when he came in 1984 and has hosted many large concerts.
BONUS – MEET THE MASCOT: SHUEME
Shuéme (pronounced shwe-MAY) was first unveiled on June 17, 2014 at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa introduced by Laureen Harper, wife of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. She would also make an appearance in Brazil last year during the men’s World Cup where she was greeted warmly by Brazil mascot Fuleco and Brazilian football player Marta. She has made many appearances since including the World Cup Group Draw in Ottawa back in December and has toured the country promoting the World Cup event.
Shuéme is a great white owl: a bird common to Canada. In fact the name Shuéme is based off the French word for owl: ‘chouette.’ Her name pays tribute to the bilingualism, multiculturalism and inclusiveness of Canada. She was inspired by the strength and the elegance of the game. Her colors inspire peace and fair play while her hair exudes self-confidence and pride. Her contours denote her ability to grace under pressure and her wings and tail provide precise control and agility needed to play the game well. No doubt Shuéme will make appearances at all the games in Canada and make a good impression at the World Cup.
And there you go. My review of Group C. I’m already at the halfway point. Just three more groups to go.
VanCity Buzz Staff. “Meet Shuéme, the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 Canada Mascot” VANCITY BUZZ. 16 July 2014<http://www.vancitybuzz.com/2014/07/meet-shueme-fifa-womens-world-cup-2015-canada-mascot/>
The gangsta film BumRush played at the Vancouver Film Festival. I know what you’re going to say: “I’ve seen gangsta movies before.” BumRush is different. Firstly, it’s Canadian and set in Montreal. Secondly, it’s based off a sting and of events that really happened. Whether it can compare to other hood movies or gangsta movies of the past is one big question mark.
The film is set in Montreal in a strip club. In the past, the neighborhood of the club has had its dealings with rivalry from biker gangs and the Montreal mafia. Now comes a new messy chapter for the club as the neighborhood sees a crossfire between two rivaling street gangs. Soon they want to seize power over the club. This leads to a huge mess on all sides and the condition of the club in jeopardy. Soon the IB11 gang declares the club their property.
To end it all, the leader of the sting, Le Kid, finds an opportunity in five tough men who have had a brotherhood for many years. They also see it in Catherine, a girl who was imprisoned for her activity in relation for one of the gangs. She wants out of gang life but is having trouble with her criminal record being checked. Le Kid sees her and the brotherhood as an opportunity to get the gangs out of the club. It starts with a sting where Catherine gives the leader and his girlfriend spiked shooters. Later one of the gang members takes the drugged up girlfriend out to make out, only to have a cop videotape it with a phone and send it to the gang members. The video leads to more heated friction between the gangs. Then the brotherhood kidnap the two leading gang members to a mortuary to force them to tell the whereabouts of two men they’re after. This leads to an ending that has a small amount of action and some amount of cheeseball moments.
If there’s one strength about the movie, it’s that it shows a lot of forgotten truths that most gangsta movies or hood movies leave out or neglect. One often overlooked truth is girls involved with gangs like Catherine. Catherine’s role shows an angle of girls who want out of the gang system and start a better life. It also shows the ill misogynistic treatment girls get from gang members like the vulgar treatment of the strippers and the girl that was ‘gangbanged.’ That’s it with gangs. They think that because they have all the gun power they can treat women as mysogynistically as they want. That part happens to be the movie’s biggest strength.
Another thing is that it doesn’t show a completely happy ending. It shows the ugly reality that gangs have taken their street activities online and expanded their territory greatly. It’s a new truth that gangs have gone from just their own hood to anywhere online. There’s even talk on the news in Vancouver about gangs going online. That’s one thing that we often forget is that even after a sting is made, there’s still a lot of things left behind or things that don’t go away.
Another thing about the movie is that it features the final acting performance of Montreal musician Bad News Brown. He was famous in Quebec for being a harmonica-playing hip hop blues musician and was a opening act for many big name hip hop stars in Montreal, even accompanying some on stage. Brown was murdered in Montreal on February 11th or this year at the age of 33. This movie could possibly be English Canada’s first introduction to him and Quebec’s last time they’d see him on the screen.
Director Michel Jette did an excellent job in researching the story and creating a good script that was as smart as it was thrilling. He doesn’t rely completely on too much action or too much shootouts but rather focuses on the scenes leading up to the big moment and the people surrounding it. Nevertheless for all of the script’s intelligence, there were a few flat points and noticeable glitches. There were also some corny moments with the harmonica playing of Loosecannon. I often wondered if having a harmonica playing gangsta was such a good idea. The acting was imperfect and often overdone from some. Also the timing of this movie being out at a time when the popularity of gangsta movies have faded over time makes me question whether this would make for a good commercial release.
BumRush’s best quality is its truthfulness about gang activity and those around it. Its weakness is its lack of professionalism from many of the actors and a script that gets confusing over time. This one left me questioning its potential in the end, especially for English Canada.