Each suffering massive disappoints in the semifinals, England and Germany enter the Women’s World Cup third-place match with hopes of redemption Saturday afternoon at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.
England of course endured perhaps the biggest heartbreak in the tournament’s history after defender Laura Bassett’s normally routine clearance disastrously found her side’s net in the closing minutes of their 2-1 loss to defending champion Japan.
The top ranked Germans, still the highest-scoring team in the tournament, were blanked by a superior United States defense and fell 2-0 to watch their designation as the Cup favorites wither away.
Yet there is an opportunity to soothe those defeats as these two historical foes clash for bragging rights and the sheen of a bronze medal in Canada.
England coach Mark Sampson has set his teams sites on making history.
"There's only one English team that's finished higher than third, we're determined to join that club," Sampson told reporters. "There's only us and the 1966 team that have won as many games at World Cups - it's an incredible achievement.
"So we want to give ourselves the best chance of achieving something special on Saturday, making more history."
Perhaps no two players have more to prove than Bassett and German forward Celia Sasic. The former was inconsolable while Japan celebrated, even though teammates rallied to her side, and Sasic’s missed penalty could have turned Germany’s fortunes around and completely changed the makeup of a very tight match.
Sasic leads all scorers with six of Germany’s 20 total goals this year, nine more than the next closest squad. However coach Silvia Neid has still dealt with criticism from her compatriots for her strategies, especially after falling behind to the Americans.
Yet those critics can’t truly fault Neid or her side’s lack of creativity, with 17 of the 20 goals coming off quick strikes with deft passing in the open field.
And the Germans are once again the favorites, not only due to Sasic’s overall play, but from fellow forward Anja Mittag’s five goals and two assists and midfielder Len Goessling’s three assists to lead the team. There’s also the perfect 20-0 record Germany holds over the English.
Though silencing such a formidable attack and returning home victorious could help mend Bassett and England’s woes. Sampson’s side have allowed seven goals thus far, but still proved resilient behind Bassett and defenders Steph Houghton and Lucy Bronze, and keeper Karen Bardsley’s 16 saves, the fifth-best total this year.
Kickoff time: 4 p.m. EDT
TV channel: FOX