My personal blog on Scottish Women's Football
The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup is over, and it has been an incredible tournament that highlighted the brilliance of Women’s Football around the world. But which players would get into my starting eleven?
Hope Solo – USA
I had decided the team before the final, but I had to let it influence some of the decisions. But Hope Solo was the standout keeper. On route to the final, America had just conceded one goal, and part of this was due to Solo. She is an accomplished shot stopper, but more than that, she dominates her area perfectly.
Close-call: Nadine Angerer (Germany).
Lucy Bronze – England
Shortlisted for the best player, Lucy Bronze is one of the numerous England players who has had her reputation significantly enhanced. In their opening game against France, Bronze played on the left-wing to stop the threat from Elodie Thomis which she did brilliantly. And when she played at right-back, she displayed the two qualities that position requires. Defensively she was sublime, and she was a key component of the English attack. And yeah, that goal against Norway has become English legend.
Close-calls: Ali Krieger (USA), Leonie Maier (Germany), Saori Ariyoshi (Japan)
Steph Houghton and Laura Bassett – both England
This may be contentious as Julie Johnston (USA) and Kadeisha Buchanan (Canada) should be there in many people’s eyes. But this is my logic. USA, Germany and Japan were expected to reach the semi-finals. England was not. And the key to this was the English centre-back partnership. How both of these players should be remembered from this tournament were two players who put their bodies on the line continuously, and did everything humanly possible to prevent a goal.
Close-calls: Julie Johnston (USA) and Kadeisha Buchanan (Canada)
Meghan Klingenberg – USA
Klingenberg defended brilliantly during the tournament, and she seemed to be able to read the game brilliantly. But the main reason why she gets into the team was due her partnership she developed with Megan Rapinoe down the left-wing. Those two combining were key to America’s progression to winning the Final.
Close Call: Claire Rafferty (England)
Amandine Henry (France) and Lauren Holiday (USA)
Amandine Henry was named as the tournament’s second best player and it is clear to see why. She reminded me of the role Xabi Alonso used to play for Liverpool, sitting deep and starting chances, linking up play and stopping counter-attacks. And her goal against Mexico was sublime.
Lauren Holiday gets in because ironically, you never noticed her. She played a role that required her to break up play, but when commentators talk about those sorts of players, is when they make a mistake.
Close Calls: Jade Moore (England) and Lena Goessling (Germany)
Aya Miyama – Japan
Okay, she played on the left for Japan but she had to be included in this team. She is the creative heartbeat of Japan, dictating play and creating nearly every chance (slight exaggeration). I think the way to emphasise her importance is this – take her out of Japan and they become almost average, and she could walk into every team in the World Cup.
Close Call: Simone Laudehr (Germany) or Gabrielle Onguene (Cameroon)
Carli Lloyd – USA
One of the easiest decision, before she absolutely annihilated Japan in the Final. Like Miyama, she was part of America’s creative heartbeat. Where her role came was breaking up play, and driving at the defence. And what a threat she was from set pieces and it was incredible that Japan thought she should be left unmarked at set pieces. Plus her vision, ambition and self-belief to score from the half-way line summed her up. The decision to play her just off the striker against Germany seemed to unleash her full potential. A deserved winner of the Best Player Award.
Close Call: Jill Scott – England (Similar role, but far less clinical)
Megan Rapinoe – USA
Let’s face it, until the Semi-Finals, America limped through and it was only their change to a 4-4-1-1 formation that completely unleashed Carli Lloyd. But until then, the person that seemed to drag them through was Rapinoe. She used her pace and trickery to a devastating effect and never seemed to tire. And her passing ability was sublime too.
Close Call: Nahomi Kawasumi (Japan) or Alexandra Popp (Germany)
Celia Sasic – Germany
This was a harder decision than it sounds when you hear the German striker was awarded the Golden Boot. Because in the big Semi-Final against America, Sasic missed the crucial penalty that if they had scored – you can argue they would have reached the Final. But up to that point, she was a crucial part of the German attack and was a continued menace.
Close Call: Anja Mittag (Germany)
Mark Sampson – England
Criticised for his ‘defensive’ tactics against France, Sampson has seen his stock rise significantly. For each game, he chose the starting eleven and formation based on the opposition, and this was key for England’s progression to becoming the first England Women’s team to win a medal.
What do you think of my team? What would be your best eleven?