European Championships 2017
Semi Finals Preview

Austria – Denmark

Austria: 60% wpafw

Austria can already be crowned team development champions of Europe. But now you might sense there is a chance – though still slim – to be official European women’s football champions too. Denmark is next. But for arguably the first time they are arguably favorites (maybe against Iceland they had been as well) – or at least not the clear underdog having beaten Denmark in the last warm-up match before the championships 4:2 very comfortably. How much will this affect them? That remains to be seen.

What to expect:
No major changes in both sides because they have got thus far the way they played

Key questions:
How much will Austria try to apply high press again? Like they did in that last preparation friendly. And how would Denmark be able to respond?

To play hig press against Denmark is very recommendable and it is no wonder they had that much problems against Austria. Some of their big weaknesses is build up play using the number 6 positions and they are highly dependent on getting the ball through to Pernille Harder playing in a number 10 role. Nevertheless they tend to try build up play too often instead of just play long balls if in danger. Alternatives to build up play over the wing backs are also not very well working. Sometimes Katrine Veje is available.
However you should follow the proceedings closely because Denmark know how Austria could play and might have looked for a way to respond properly. Depending how that might be working Austria has to react to it in turn again.

How much will Denmark be inspired by the win over Germany? It is all about psychology and believe. The fact they just managed to beat a very poor German side who wanted to gift away the victory and Denmark was barely able to take it didn’t mena this was a strong performance. But the believe might help. Might, but we do not expect that to be a big factor in that case because most Danish players are very professional and already playing close to 100% thus not setting free much additional power.
Different with Nadia Nadim though who might thus play a key role. She was unfortunately mainly a non-factor during the group matches and mainly visible by stopping their attacks by being whistled offside. But was a different player after her goal. (By the way not once being offside against Germany?) If she can keep that level it would be very much lifting Denmarks chances.

Can Austria score?
Not easily. And that is what it makes so 50/50. Again lets have an analytical look at what happened: Austria never scored more than once. Nina Burger is a clever scorer. Nicole Billa relatively too but not quite as much at this level. Lisa Makas out is a horrible blow. At least Laura Feiersinger showed rising form against Spain. But scoring was never her strength. Sara Zadrazil to the rescue, or Pinter. They could be dangerous from set pieces too. But 3:0 against Iceland? Yes if you want to look away. And not at the fact that the first was a pure poor gift from the goalie and for the second it is still unknown until now who scored it at all because it went in somehow unnoticed. The third was well done but only came after all was over.

However. They have so far only met better back lines than Denmark. And Denmark already had a pretty decent amount of good luck in every game so far they didnt’t concede more and especially are losing their balance and organisation when under pressure.
Denmark also still are not in the best available balance elsewhere. They still look like Pernille Harder does a lot for the team and is at 100% workrate to support the others. They needed much larger periods where it should be the other way round. The team should take much more work rate away from her to save her energy and bring her into better positions to take on the defenders on in 1-vs-1 situations.

Denmark have been blessed with luck in this tournament so far. Will this continue or will they go out. We would be happy to see them play better instead.


England – Netherlands

England 70% wpafw

Despite Netherlands are good. They are a mismatch for England and a lot of things must go their way surprisingly well if they want to have a chance here:

Primarily they have to have a much better day in the center defense area (including the goalie) than against Sweden where they gave far too many chances away far too easily and got very lucky Sweden didn’t score. And Sweden were only threatening with long balls behind the lines.
If they would not be able to improve we might be in for a not very interesting match that will be decided early on.
But that would be not enough. They have scored twice from open play in four matches now. None of the set piece goals were “forced” but all kind of unnecessary give-aways from their opponents. England don’t do that. Lets see. They might if they are tired.

Like Martens should find a way past Lucy Bronze or switch her position. Let see. Maybe the latter.

Vivianne Miedema should produce some extra special goals. Lets see. Hasn’t happened yet.

Jackie Groenen should produce some extra special goals. Lets see.Β Hasn’t happened yet. But chances are not worse than the other ones mentioned above.

The whole Dutch set up seems a very bad fit for England. They should check the form of the day but switch early on if it is not working as expected. For example by dropping Miedema further back as they have done in the past. From there she might get more balls and re lease Martens and van ded Sanden in a more flexible way towards the center instead of very predominantly on the wings only. And the space in front of the own back line is much weaker defended by England than the space in front of the goal.

In another key point playing against Lucy Bronze is really difficult. Try to constantly placing an attacking winger on this side trying to force her to stay and not support the offense? Maybe better do the opposite. Make her come forward and await with a good defense and attack the space she left open behind her. Especially when you have a player like van de Sanden to do exactly this being up front faster than the wing back gets back in position.

A problem might arise now for England with the most difficult path to the final. Choosing their roster that early and heading into the tournament without the ideal set up means there is no “plan B” available now without significant loss of quality when things aren’t working as they should. We have already seen the lack of control out of a holding midfield position. Very much against Spain. And again against France. The power football needs a lot of power and eats up quite a decent amount of energy.

Maybe here lie the Dutch’s best chance. On a normal day England will do this. But we have seen a lot of days already in this tournament which have been everything but normal. Thus bets on England 70:30.


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